Planning a trip to southern Italy? Follow the Italian trail from Naples, skip past the Amalfi Coast, and make southerly tracks directly for the rocky Basilicata coastline. Brace yourself for a narrow coastal road, set against a backdrop of steep wooded slopes blanketed with pines, carob trees and oaks, with glimpses of sparkling seas and pocket-sized beaches, and as many snaking hairpin bends as its Amalfi neighbour.
The top spot is Maratea, a medieval village with a stylish harbour and strong sense of history, but for a true taste of southern Italy, explore beyond the town and into the Pollino National Park.
Perched above the Golfo di Policastro and in the shadow of the outstretched arms of the imposing inland-facing 22m statue of Christ the Redeemer, this town of cobbled stone lanes and whitewashed buildings is a magnet to Italy aficionados. Of its 44 churches, 21 are open to the public, with 11 in the old town. The most historically-important one is Chiesa Madre whilst one of the most striking chapels is Chiesetta del Calvario with its magnificent frescoed façade. The main squares of Piazza Buraglia and Piazza Vitolo offer a selection of cafés and restaurants.
Down in the more glitzy harbour, colourful fishing boats bob alongside sleek yachts, overlooked by restaurants and lively bars. From here there are boat and diving excursions along the coast and to the coves and caves that are accessible only by water. The Grotta della Meraviglia is the only cave that is reached by land.
The 19 miles of coastline gives way to 20 beaches which vary from sandy bays with fully-equipped lidi to more pebbly coves. Top beaches include the stretch of sand at Fiumicello and the pebble beaches of Castrocucco, Acquafredda and Cersuta. Crystal clear water and a quickly shelving sea bed makes it a great destination for snorkelling and diving.
Head inland to the ancient villages of Rivello, Lauria and also to Aliano, home to Carlo Levi during his period of exile and the inspiration for his book Christ Stopped at Eboli.
Continue further deep into a landscape that veers from alpine meadows to yawning river canyons in Italy’s largest national park, the Pollino National Park, for some exceptional hiking. The park is carpeted with forests of oak, maple, pine and fir and is home to birds of prey, wild cats and wolves. For a completely novel experience, Pollino Acqua Trekking offers guided gentle trekking through the rivers and waterfalls of the park.
Find out more about our accommodation in the Basilicata region.