While travelling in Basilicata, we faced an embarrassing truth: despite the many beautiful landscapes ranging from mountains to sea shores, a fascinating culture and an incredible variety of local food, the large public usually forgets about this marvellous Italian region.
Caught between the Ionian and the Tyrrhenian Sea, Basilicata it’s not an easy spot to reach: twisted roads connect it with the rest of Italy through the Apennines and Pollino National Park. This region is an island still attached to the Italian peninsula and as any other island it preserves jealously its cultural identity and offers with parsimony its many wonders to the patient visitor.
An island into the island, Maratea well represents the variety of Basilicata and the unexpected treasures this land has to offer. I arrived by car with my friend Federico, an amazing urban sketcher, after an exhausting 110-kilometre road trip from Tursi (“This can’t be the main road, we are lost!”, “Of course it’s the main road: we are in Basilicata!”).
Even Facebook didn’t help in those days: as for Zuckerberg’s social network, Maratea is in Campania instead of Basilicata…
Half the way between sky and sea, Maratea is a charming town: the face looking on the Tyrrhenian Sea and the back covered by mountains, precariously balanced on the slopes where its nine suburbs are located. In the past the roads were so narrow, not even two donkeys could cross them at the same time. When the locals would face each other on a path, both with an animal loaded with goods, they threw the least worth donkey down the slope in allowed the other one to continue.
Maratea’s soul is a complex and mysterious one. Sea, mountains, culture, good wine and food, history and traditions, and the deep hope for a better future. Overlooking all of this is the Christ Saviour, Italy’s tallest statue (22 metres) located over the 600-metre high Mount San Biagio. Nothing can slip away from its gaze, always turned over the sea, but if you get closer to the statue the look changes and it seems turned to the mountains. Eerie, charming and cryptic… just like Basilicata.
Where is Maratea?