Città di Maratea

Coat of arms

Location of Maratea in Italy

Coordinates: 40°00′N 15°43′E / 40.000°N 15.717°E / 40.000; 15.717
Country Italy
Region Basilicata
Province / Metropolitan city Potenza (PZ)
Frazioni Acquafredda, Brefaro, Castrocucco, Cersuta, Fiumicello, Marina, Massa, Santa Caterina, Porto
  Mayor Domenico Cipolla
  Total 67 km2 (26 sq mi)
Elevation 300 m (1,000 ft)
Population (31 December 2013)
  Total 5,205
  Density 78/km2 (200/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Marateoti
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 85046
Dialing code 0973
Patron saint Saint Blaise
Saint day second Sunday in May
Website Official website

Maratea is a town and comune of Basilicata, in the province of Potenza. It is the only town of the region on the Tyrrhenian coast and because of its beautiful scenery and coastline it has been called "the Pearl of the Tyrrhenian". Owing to the considerable number of its churches and chapels it has also been described as "the town with 44 churches".


The Tyrrhenian coast as seen from Maratea.

Maratea is the only town of Basilicata on the Tyrrhenian Sea. It has approximately 32 kilometres (20 miles) of rocky coastline, with more than twenty beaches. One of the main characteristics of Maratea is the variety of its landscapes, varying from breath-taking sea views to wooded hillsides and majestic mountains which sweep down to the sea creating steep cliffs.

The Grotta di Maratea, or the Cave of Wonders, was discovered in 1929 by men building the Highway 18 from Calabria.[1]

The centre of the town (called Maratea Borgo, meaning "Maratea's Old Town") is situated on the northern slopes of Mount San Biagio; other villages in the comune include Acquafredda, Cersuta, Fiumicello, Porto, Marina, Castrocucco (situated on the coast), Castello, Santa Caterina, Massa and Brefaro (situated on the overlooking hills). The principal vegetation comprises oaks, pines, rosemary, holm oaks, carob trees and wild fennel.

Maratea has a small harbour, which can accommodate up to 200 boats.


Based on archeological findings, the first settlements in the Maratea region date back to the Paleolithic era. In the 15th14th century BC a village grew up on top of the little headland called La Timpa. This was a small trading center, and its existence is documented until the 2nd century BC, when the Romans conquered Lucania.

During the Roman era, the region continued to be a trade center: on the seabed near Santo Janni island dozens of ancient anchors have been found, and these are now on display in the local museum.

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, southern Italy became part of the Byzantine Empire, starting from the Gothic Wars (6th century). From the 7th century, the Tyrrhenian Sea came under the control of the Saracens, (Sicily became a Muslim emirate in the 9th century), who sacked numerous towns. So, for safety reasons, the local inhabitants moved to the high ground of Mount San Biagio, where they built the so-called Castello, a little fortified urban centre.

In 732 a ship, fleeing the religious persecution of Leo III the Isaurian, brought the sacred remains of Saint Blaise to Maratea, who thereafter became the patron saint of the town. The remains of the saint are still kept in the Maratea's Basilica, which is built over an ancient temple of Minerva.

In 1077 Maratea, together with the rest of Southern Italy, was conquered by the Normans.

In the 11th-12th century, since the Castello could no longer accommodate the increasing population, some of the people of Maratea decided to found a new urban centre, historically called the Borgo (a word that means "village" in Italian). Today the ancient Borgo is the principal urban centre of Maratea. In view of the risk from Saracen attacks, the Borgo was situated behind Mount San Biagio, so that it could not be seen from the sea.

In 1282 the War of the Sicilian Vespers began, in which the houses of Angevins and Aragon fought for control of the Kingdom of Naples. The war ended in 1302, but the dispute continued for another century. Between 1302 and 1496, thanks to its loyalty to the royal house, Maratea was awarded numerous grants of autonomy. The Castello was put under siege in 1441, by Lauria (a nearby town), and in 1495 by Angevins soldiers. On both occasion it resisted successfully.

From 1566 to 1595, six guardhouse-towers were built along the coastline, to protect the new villages that had developed in the meantime: Acquafredda, Cersuta and Porto.

On 2 May 1676 the village of the Borgo was besieged by 160 bandits. However, the guards of the Castello killed the bandit leader and captured the remainder of the gang.

In the 18th century Maratea entered a period of progress and prosperity; on April 12, 1734 the first hospital of Basilicata was opened in the town. Many of the so-called 44 churches were built during this period.

When Napoleon Bonaparte proclaimed himself King of Naples, Maratea was one of the few cities which did not accept French supremacy. In August 1806 the nearby town of Lauria, whose citizens also refused to acknowledge Napoleon, was set on fire by general André Masséna. Alessandro Mandarini, mayor of Maratea and commander of its castle, believing that Maratea would be the next target, evacuated the inhabitants to Sicily. Since Mandarini had been promised relief from the English army, he remained, with only 1,000 men, to defend the castle and the town. After three days under siege, Mandarini, who did not receive any help by the English, was forced to surrender (December 10, 1806). In token of their great admiration for the brave resistance, the French spared the lives of the rebels, but ordered them to pull down the walls of the castle. The latter was slowly abandoned during the 19th and 20th century.

After the return of the House of Bourbon to the throne of Naples, a movement developed that would have brought about the political unification of the peninsula. In 1848, one of its leaders, the revolutionary Costabile Carducci, was killed after years of being hunted by the Neapolitan militia.

In 1861, Italy was finally united. However, at this time Maratea suffered extreme poverty, in common with the rest of Basilicata. Many of its inhabitants emigrated to the United States or to Venezuela, and with their economic help Maratea was connected to the railway network in 1894, built its first aqueduct in 1902, had electrical connection from 1924, and tarred roads connected the Old Town with the outlying districts on the coast in 1930.

Thanks to the help of Stefano Rivetti, an Italian industrialist, in the 1950s the economic situation of Maratea improved: factories (a wooden-mill and an industrial estate) and many hotels were opened.

Main sights

The Statue of Christ can be seen at the top of Mount San Biagio
The basilica of Saint Blaise
The Old Town with the church of Santa Maria Maggiore in the background

The Statue of Christ

The statue of Christ the Redeemer, or the Christ of Maratea, was built of pure Carrara marble in 1965 by Bruno Innocenti, a sculptor from Florence. It is located on the top of Monte San Biagio, right in front of the basilica.

The 44 Churches

Maratea is called the town with 44 churches for the number of its churches and chapels.

In the outlying districts are the rest of the churches which complete the list:


Maratea's territory is also home to six coastal watchtowers, dating to the 16th-17th centuries.


Acquafredda and Cersuta
Coastline near Marina
The Secca of Castrocucco

Maratea has two urban areas: one is located on the top of the mount San Biagio, called Castello; the other one is called Borgo, situated on the north hillside of the same mountain.

Plus, the comune has several little villages, spread across the region.

The first outlying district on the northern coast of Maratea is Acquafredda (its name means "cold water"). This village has a wonderful rocky coastline, surrounded by pine forests, and a 19th-century church.
It is the second frazione on the northern coast of Maratea. Its name means "the land of oaks". It's a little village.
Fiumicello (the name means "little river") is located near the harbour. Its development in the 1950s was thanks to the Italian industrialist Stefano Rivetti.
Porto (meaning "harbour") is the centre of the local fishing industry, based round the modern harbour of Maratea.
Marina is located on the southern coast. It developed between 1894 and 1921, thanks to the opening of the third railway station in Maratea. It has ten beautiful beaches, and an ancient cave.
Castrocucco (the name means "the castle on the hillside") is an outlying district, some 10 km (6 mi). along the coast road to the south.
Is the smallest village of Maratea. It is situated on the hillside of Mount San Biagio.
The name means "the manor farm", this is the largest outlying district of Maratea.
The name means, in ancient Greek, "the high place". This is one of the smaller villages, but it is well known for the production of excellent wine.



The nearest airports are:

Twin towns



Wikimedia Commons has media related to Maratea.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 7/8/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.