Our society provides professiona Maratea guided tour.
Following a short history of the town.
Thirty-two kilometers of breathtaking Tyrrhenian seacoast: this is Maratea, a real unique exemplar among the already rich panorama of Southern Italy outstanding sites. A single beauty made of steep slopes covered by thick Mediterranean vegetation that reaches the boundaries of hidden beaches whose sand is characterized by multicolored pebbles.
An incomparable landscape further enriched by an inland that keeps on the other hand its typical rural nature, revealing a cultural soul that is characteristic of Lucania (now Basilicata).
In fact, Maratea’s territory is divided into marine and mountainous areas. Each of them keeps its own identity that is usually very different from one another. All of them together offer the visitor a vast choice of opportunities that is rare to find in other places with the same small dimensions as Maratea.
These peculiar natural and cultural features, plus the crystal clear and shimmering sea, the quality of the reception and the innate sense of hospitality of its inhabitants, make Maratea one of the most notorious tourist destinations of Italy. Each year more and more visitors choose it as their vacation spot.
The statue of the Redeemer Christ that is 22 meters high dominates the entire Gulf of Policastro from the top of the ruins of the ancient fortified village of Upper Maratea, on Mount Saint Blaise (Monte San Biagio). The same mountain is the dwelling place of the homonymous Basilica dedicated to the patron saint of Maratea. In the church lie Saint Blaise’s relics.
Maratea is known for its 44 churches and chapels that constitute a real treasure, not only in terms of faith, but also of art and history with their several works of art, statues, paintings and frescos carefully safeguarded. Part of the territory of Magna Graecia, Maratea offers important archeological testimonies with precious evidences discovered in the sea.
The magnificence of Maratea’s landscape is an invitation to enjoy reinvigorating rides through the many tracks that in the past were used by shepherds and their livestock and also as a way to link the many hamlets one to the other. Maratea is also the ideal place from where to start the discovery of the natural beauties of the nearby National Parks of Pollino, Cilento and Lucanian Apennine and also the discovery of the history and traditions of Basilicata inland cities.
Origin and history
Maratea has an ancient history. Man’s presence has been confirmed since Prehistory. What testifies that is the many stone utensils found in the high areas of Massa and Brefaro and mainly in the caves along the seacoast. Of particular importance are the discoveries made in the caves of Fiumicello in the 50’s, when experts dated the objects found back to 40.000 years. At the same time, in the seacoast caves, were found rests of fauna, ancient testimonies of the several different climatic phases present in different periods of time.
In the past few years, a thorough archeological investigation has given light to the origins of Maratea. The bond with the main way of communication, the sea, and thus with the most ancient Mediterranean cultures, particularly the Magna Graecia civilization, has been confirmed by important discoveries made in the sea and inland. The name “Maratea”, in the most reliable version, would derive from ancient Greek and would mean “fennel land”. In the place known as Timpa, a little hill over the current tourist port, were found proofs of a colony dating back to the ancient Bronze Age (about 1500 BC), constituted of bottoms of huts, pottery materials and obsidian instruments, typical of the Apennine culture. Several discoveries were made in different parts of the territory, dating back to the Classical period from the fourth century BC on. Particularly interesting are the painted utensils found in some tombs dating back to the fourth century BC in the area of Castrocucco.
When it comes to the Roman Age, the main character is the Isle of Santojanni, which is a few hundred meters away from the coast. At Santojanni, in fact, archeologists found a few sepultures and also traces of basins used for the preparation of the Garum, which was a kind of seasoning very requested by the ancient Romans. These are indications that the island was constantly frequented by military and commercial ships. It has probably always been a point of reference and a privileged place where navigators could make landfall in order to provide themselves with water and food supplied by the natives in exchange of utensils and precious merchandise. An additional and much more important testimony are the underwater discoveries made around the island during the 80’s by the archeological authorities. Such discoveries brought back to the light amphorae used for the transportation of wine and olive oil, and sixty stumps of Greek and Roman anchors made of lead. Such discoveries make this place one of the most important underwater archeological sites of the Mediterranean. On the island we can see rests of a construction that are attributed to a small church dedicated, as supposed, to Santojanni, probably of Byzantine ritual.
The consecutive late Medieval period sees the moving of Maratea’s history to the high zones of the territory, mainly to the top of Mount Saint Blaise, where there had already been man’s presence, from the Classical period, witnessed by recent and limited excavations. According to popular tales, there once was a temple dedicated to the goddess Minerva, where today we can see Saint Blaise’s Basilica. In fact, in other cases, the birth of Saint Blaise’s cult is documented in places previously dedicated to the veneration of pagan divinities considered protectors of health, especially Minerva. Around the seventh - eighth centuries AD, Mount Saint Blaise was consecutively chosen by small communities of Basilian monks, who moving from the directives of the Greek world to the Latin world, made it their place of hermitage. Later, they created an early urban nucleus offering better protection to the local communities spread here and there, giving birth to the fortified inhabited area of Upper Maratea, today known as “Castle”. According to some theses, the ones who populated Upper Maratea were also refugees coming from the city of
Blanda, that was first erroneously believed to have existed where today Maratea is, but after recent archeological researches its existence was proved to be in the nearby Tortora. As tradition wants, in the year of 732 AD the relics of Saint Blaise the Bishop, martyr from Armenia and patron saint of Maratea, were taken to the basilica currently named after him.
It is very probable that the “Castle” area, that is, Upper Maratea, lived intensely the historical events that characterized the high medieval period with first the Byzantines and then the Lombards. What can prove these presences are the characteristics of the urban constructions and defense buildings. The first appearance of the name Maratea in an official written document dates back to the year 1079 in a seal of the Bishop of Salerno, called Alfano the 1st. During the consecutive centuries Maratea, as the rest of Southern Italy, passes through several foreign dominations, like the Normans, the Swabians, the Angevins, the Aragons and the Spanish. In the early 15th century, differently from many feudal communities, the city obtained a juridical condition that basically offered many fiscal advantages to the whole territory, except for the feudal area of Castrocucco, within the confines of Calabria.
The condition of Royal City and the port presence have helped the birth and development of commercial activities, making of Maratea a point of reference for all the inland towns, particularly the ones of the Lagonegrese region. In fact, the products and merchandise manufactured in the whole region, especially cheese, olive oil and wood, would arrive in Maratea to be then shipped mainly to Naples. This has contributed to the reputation of Maratea’s merchants, considered to be capable and wealthy.
In the second half of the 16th century, six towers were built along the coast as part of the Kingdom’s defense system. On the 21st of May of the year 1647, one hundred sixty bandits attacked Maratea, but according to history, the city has won the battle succeeding in killing most of the bandits, and losing just one citizen. Another important historical episode is when on the 10th of December of the year 1806, Colonel Alessandro Mandarini and his men have finally surrendered to the French in Upper Maratea. In that occasion the winners destructed the community’s defense walls and towers, accelerating the process of the moving of the population from that part of the city, which now is signed only by ruins.
During Risorgimento and like other cities in Lucania (today Basilicata), Maratea also had its patriots and martyrs. In the year 1828, Father Carlo da Celle was executed in the place called Cappuccini, near the homonymous monastery. On the 4th of July of the year 1848, the democratic liberal Costabile Carducci had his ship wrecked on the beach of Acquafredda of Maratea, while going to Cilento with other insurgents in order to fight against the Bourbons. As a sad coincidence the same Acquafredda of Maratea was the place where the priest Vincenzo Peluso lived. The priest was a sympathizer of the Bourbons and an enemy of the patriots, especially Carducci’s enemy. So after the wreckage he told the people to kill the shipwrecked and the same Costabile Carducci after being tortured.
The heroic patriot’s body, thrown away in a ravine, was then rescued by a merciful priest named Daniele Faraco, and lies today in the Church of Acquafredda. The late 19th century and the early 20th century saw Maratea, like so many other Italian cities, strongly touched by the immigration phenomenon mainly addressed to Southern America and Mexico. Also, Maratea lost many of its sons during the Great World Wars, and one of them, Biagio Lammoglia, a gold medal winner, had a square in Massa of Maratea named after him.