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The Amalfi Coast’s Quiet Competition: Maratea, Italy

The buses honk their horns around every bend on the Amalfi Coast of Italy as heaps of tourists get off at precarious stops such as Positano and Amalfi. English is predominately on the menu and the beaches remain white with those in desperate need of a tan.


As the sun hits the skin of these vacationers, the brightness pings off of a glass of limoncello. A few hours south of this popular setting is fortunately overshadowed Maratea. What is really more of a district of little towns and villages, Maratea keeps to herself and those that find her hope you do the same.


While not a complete secret, this stretch of Italy’s Tyrrhenian Sea is also not entirely out of the cat’s bag. The Gulf of Policastro still sparkles with a sapphire blue Kate Middleton would envy.


A welcome drink of water on Italy’s mostly landlocked Basilicata region, the Maratea coast is an appreciated sight for those looking to be alone with the road, sea and hills. The Amalfi Coast wins the popularity contest, but Maratea doesn’t mind. It enjoys its position as an off the beaten path destination


A Piece of Rio in Italy–Heading up to the heavens, some 5 kilometers from Maratea, you can see where Christ makes his vacation home. The Rio imposter, Redentore stands with arms outstretched. The marble statute sits on the peak of Monte San Biagio. A few tourist shops selling trinkets set up here in hopes of cashing in, but head straight for the man himself. Designed by Bruno Innocenti in 1965, Redentore enjoys great views of the entire Tyrrhenian coastline. It might not be the size of Christ the Redeemer in Rio or as famous, but it is impressive nonetheless.


A Touch of Tunnel Vision
—The road leading up to Maratea makes the Costiera Amalfitana seem like it has the wideness of a highway. Heading south from the Amalfi coast, drive the SS18 when the Campania region turns into Basilicata just before changing regions again to Calabria. Right around Sapri it really gets interesting as the road narrows and quiets. You won’t be jammed behind buses like the Amalfi Coast, but rather you can enjoy the cliffs and sea below, that is if you aren’t driving. You might start to feel like James Bond. Then, you realize, no one is chasing you. A few tunnels along this stretch only add more interest. One in particular looks like a geode you can drive through, carved out of a cliff ever so slightly.


The Hills Are Alive With Church Bells—In the town center of Maratea, you can appreciate the sweet life. A few restaurants boast balconies above the streets. Diners peek down on the squares below while sipping on a sparkling white. The classic hill town is painted cremsicle orange, beginning with its rooftops. The color contrasts with the green hills just beyond and the blue sea in the opposing direction. In the morning, you can count the church bells. This little village claims to host over 40 churches in its limits.


A Place For Yacht Watching—Porto di Maratea puts you closer to those waters that can seem distant when up in the hills. So removed from the rest of Italy it would seem, this part of the district is home to clusters of yachts. Whether parked or heading out to explore the Tyrrhenian Sea, you can swim, sunbathe and pretend you own the biggest yacht in the lot. The pretentious nature of wealth however keeps to the gulf in Maratea, unlike up north in Positano. Southern Italy is very much alive and well down here.


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About the author

Morly Cowan

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