The old town of Maratea is built into the mountainside, and while on the map the train station looks like a very short walk from the town, it would be a hellish climb to attempt with backpacks, let alone a suitcase. As our driver negotiated the series of hairpin bends, I was content that we had chosen to go without a car for this leg of our trip; we would explore Maratea slowly and on foot.
The main attraction of the town is actually high above the rooftops, and requires another climb to reach it. The 21-metre Cristo Redentore (Christ the Redeemer) statue, built in the 1960s as an attempt to entice visitors to the region, towers over Maratea on Monte San Biagio, and it was the obvious destination for our first day of walking. The trail to the top is good, and mostly uses a wide track, with only a small section where you have to walk on the quiet road. It took us around an hour to walk to the summit (a fair bit less to come down again). At the top is a small cafe, the unassuming church of San Biagio, and of course the 21-metre Jesus.
A path leads right up to the statue, but from the top it’s the view down which is the real reward. There are fabulous views of the coast, the roofs of the old town, the pretty harbour, and of the surrounding mountains. The clouds rolled in over the mountain as we stood and admired the view, occasionally obscuring our view before quickly revealing the sunshine again.
On our second day we set off to walk to the harbour. Again it involved a steep descent, mainly on a series of stone steps. It took us 35 minutes to reach the waterside, and having set off on a particularly hot morning, we were ready for an ice cream treat when we got there. In truth there was little to do at the harbour, although I did see signs suggesting that during the summer season there are boat trips which exploring the nearby coastline. We were happy to have a wander in the harbour’s narrow lanes and spend an hour in the cafe before tackling the climb back up to town.
Maratea is proud of its label as ‘the city with 44 churches’, and from our hotel balcony we were able to view several of these. Around half of the churches are open to the public, although opening hours are typically short, with a couple of hours in the morning and a couple more in the late afternoon. We spied one church on the hillside and set off to reach it, knowing that we’d most likely be greeted by a locked door and a great view; and so it proved. Around the town are a number of good paths and trails, and it’s easy to walk for an hour or two, always arriving back in town in time for a drink or a refreshing gelato. For those wishing to go a little further afield, the pretty Marina di Maratea is nearby and can be reached by bus or train.
We stayed at La Locanda Delle Donne Monache, a atmospheric hotel in a former convent with an outdoor pool and a good restaurant. Most rooms have fabulous views over Maratea’s rooftops, but more impressive still was the welcome and overall service we received from owner Loredana and her team.