Discovering a mountain village, but with your feet in the crystal clear water of the Tyrrhenian Sea. In a Basilicata that is still authentic and increasingly open to outdoor and active tourism, 32 kilometers of proudly resistant Tyrrhenian coast between Campania and Calabria, between Punta degli Infreschi which separates it from Cilento and Punta La Secca, the extreme which divides it from Calabria, lying along the Gulf of Policastro between sedimentary rocks and black beaches of aggressive beauty: this is the segment of Basilicata that presents itself to the view from Maratea looking towards the sea. But that’s not all, indeed.
Peaks of 2000 meters
Because right next to the coast the mountain rises majestically and proudly, dotted with peaks that reach up to 2000 metres, interspersed with gorges, more open valleys and towns that are lost inland in an infinite number of hamlets. This is also the case for Maratea, in the collective tourist imagination, a seaside town but in reality rooted in the mountains, with the houses of the historic center often built on the rocks, therefore clinging to the mountains but with an incredible sea view, as far as the blue water merges and merges with that of the sky. From snorkeling to climbing, from via ferratas to Tibetan bridges (three, of which one, the longest in the world with its 586 meters in length, at a height of 80 meters, symbolically connects the Pollino National Park with that of the Appenino Lucano and is for this reason called “bridge between the two parks”), from spearfishing to trekking (with access to the sea, of course!) to cycle tourism, up to the coast to coast of papal memory: Maratea is an ideal starting point for outdoor activities for all tastes and for every leg, on land and sea, supported by local tour operators, such as IvyTour, well organized and ready to structure a wide and varied range of outdoor activities, always attentive to sustainability and environmental protection, and fueled by a great love for the territory, its history and traditions
Competence and Passion
Donato, Francesco di Blu Experience, Oreste, Pompeo, are just some of the guides, each specialized in their own sector, who introduced us with competence and passion to the naturalistic aspects during excursions, on foot and by bicycle, to the secrets of underwater archaeology, to precious first rudiments of via ferrata, to the hidden charm of the Grotta delle Meraviglie, a small Frasassi a stone’s throw from the sea. Directed by Ivana, invaluable back office. Not to mention the brief but significant meetings with the local people, with the embroiderer of Castelsaraceno who told us about the local arboreal rite, still felt to be a popular festival of pagan tradition then accepted by the Church which sees the “marriage” between Ndenna (a beech) and Cunocchia (a fir), hoisted on top of the first, which takes place every year in June.
Christ the Redeemer of Maratea
Located in the ancient Maratea Superior , also called Castle, the work of the Florentine sculptor Bruno Innocenzi (Florence 1906-1986) and commissioned by Count Stefano Rivetti di Valcervo, the statue of Christ the Redeemer of Maratea was raised in 1965 on the top of Monte San Biagio in site where a stone memorial cross once stood. Second in size only to the Christ of Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro, the statue of Maratea is 21 meters tall, with an arm span of 19 meters and a face measuring 3 meters.
The statue was made of reinforced concrete covered with a mixture of white cement and Carrara marble. By virtue of the particular configuration of the face, the statue, an unmistakable point of reference for seafarers, gives the impression to a distant observer that the gaze is directed, contrary to reality, towards the sea.
The statue has an internal technical void useful for reaching the top for maintenance work, with an iron ladder that cannot be used for tourist purposes. The belvedere at the foot of the statue is the most panoramic point of the whole territory of Maratea with an exceptional 360° view of the magical profile of the coast and the inland mountains. The rolling road to reach the top of the mountain is highly spectacular with final hairpin bends they rest on pillars a few meters high. In summer, due to the strong tourist influx, access by car is limited to a parking lot a few hundred meters from the summit, called the Madonna degli Ulivi, from where a shuttle service takes visitors to the Basilica of San Biagio and to the Christ.
The Statue and the Basilica
The statue is in fact located right in front of the Sanctuary of San Biagio, the Armenian martyr patron of Maratea whose relics have been kept in the Basilica since 732 AD. . The Basilica can be visited with the decorum due to a place of prayer, throughout the day with the exception of the moments in which the sacred functions take place.
Along the slightly uphill pedestrian path that leads from the Basilica to the Statue, you cross the ruins of the ancient Castle of Maratea, razed to the ground by the French after capitulating following a long siege in December 1806. The whole path and the two belvedere, the Basilica and the Statue, are ideal places to take pictures of the wonderful panorama of Maratea.
For shopping there are local craft shops and a refreshment bar. The key moment for a memorable visit to Borgo Castello is the days of the Feast of San Biagio; for the more romantic, suggestive are the walks at sunset or at dawn, in the vivid light of the month of June…
Useful info for visiting the Christ of Maratea
Personalized transfers and tours www.altransferpuglia.it – +393289611659
Open 24 hours a day with free admission
ADDRESS: Maratea , Borgo Castello – Top of Monte San Biagio , approx. 640 meters above sea level
PARKING AND SHUTTLE – RATES and TIMETABLES
The service is active for the year 2023 in the following ways:
every day, until 1 October 2023; o public holidays and pre-holidays from the 1st Saturday of October to the 2nd of November;
Hours: in the months of July and August from 09:00 to 22:00 and in the other periods from 09:00 to 21:00, always with a maximum waiting time of no more than ten minutes;
The price, subject to variations, is €5/first hour for parking a car or motorbike, €17 for other vehicles, and €1 per person for the return shuttle.
the remaining days: direct access to the free parking in front of the Basilica of San Biagio