The brief stretch of Basilicata’s Tyrrhenian coast is the most visually ravishing part of the entire region, its tall, sheer cliffs rising dramatically above rocky coves and some first-rate beaches. Though these get overcrowded in summer, the encircling mountains mean that there has been minimal development by the holiday industry. The obvious stop here is Maratea, a dispersed settlement stretching for some 20km along the beautiful rocky coastline, including the hamlets of Castrocucco, Marina, Porto, Fiumicello, Cersuta and Acquafredda. Most of the action – and accommodation – is in or around the little seaside area of Fiumicello, 5km north of Maratea Paese (the inland centre), though the chic elite who have colonized much of the area prefer to be seen in the bars and restaurants of Marina di Maratea, directly south of Maratea Paese – if nothing else, a pleasant place to stroll around and gawp at the yachts.
The whole area is well endowed with sandy beaches, including those at Fiumicello and Acquafredda; most are well signposted, but don’t hesitate to explore the less obvious ones. The coast is also home to fifty or so grottoes, most accessible only by boat; enquire at the tourist office for boat rental agencies.
If you fancy some exercise, try climbing up to Monte San Biagio (624m), the highest point above Maratea. The peak is dominated by the Redentore, an enormous marble Christ symbolically positioned with its back to the sea, looking towards the mountains of the interior. Opposite the statue, and looking as if it were about to be crushed under the giant’s feet, is an eighteenth-century church, the Santuario di San Biagio, dedicated to the town’s patron saint. On the second Sunday of May, a statue of the saint is carried up the hill in a large procession.
Top image: Old town of Maratea, Basilicata, Italy © mRGB/Shutterstock