I’ve never visited the Basilicata Region of Italy and I was excited to explore the town of Maratea, “the Pearl of the Tyrrhenian”.
Known as the city of 44 churches, this peaceful hilltop coastal town has gorgeous scenery. We stayed at Hotel Murmann due to its ideal location near one of the main beaches, Fiumicello Beach, and because they had a swimming pool of their own.
We kept it pretty low key our first day there by relaxing at Fiumicello Beach where the water was crystal clear.
For dinner we went to Il Giardino di Epicuro, a quaint restaurant in the countryside serving rustic meat centric Southern Italian cuisine.
The house appetizer consisted of various cured meats such as prosciutto and salumi and local cheeses. It also came with marinated eggplant and olives. Lagane e fagioli is a traditional soup from this area with wide pasta noodles and beans in a rich broth.
Pillowy potato gnocchi were enveloped with a creamy wild fennel sauce. Very aromatic.
I really enjoyed their traditional ravioli that were stuffed with a meat filling in a simple tomato sauce topped with a sprinkle of cheese.
Another typical dish from this area is grilled sausages that went perfectly with ciambotta (a mixture of eggplant, bell peppers, and potatoes).
Delicious homey cakes ended our wonderful meal.
The next day we started off with complimentary breakfast which was stellar with fresh fruit, yogurt, pastries, bread, salumi, and cheese.
After our morning fuel we were off to explore. One of the most well-known attractions of Maratea is Cristo Redentore di Maratea, the 22 meter high Jesus Christ statue made out of Carrara marble on top of Monte San Biago. The weather here is very unpredictable where one minute it’s sunny and the next minute it’s pouring rain. We decided regardless of the weather we were going to hike the entire way. It did end up raining for a portion of our hike but it didn’t stop us from trekking on! From our hotel to the top of the mountain, the hike is over 5 miles long which took about 2 hours. It was totally worth it as we also got to walk through the historic city center.
Once reaching the summit, the views were epic all around!
After our 10+ mile hiking excursion we headed to Spiagga Cala del Citro, a tiny beach hidden between cliffs where we relaxed for a few hours.
Our last adventure of the day was visiting Grotta di Marina di Maratea, the smallest tourist cave in the country with limestone formations. The entrance fee is €5 and you get a guided comprehensive tour. Unfortunately for me, the entire tour was in Italian since I was the only English speaker in the small tour group.
On our last night we dined at I Sapori di Marianna, a charming restaurant surrounded by nature where there were stunning views of the mountains. You could even see Cristo Redentore!
The traditional menu showcased specialties from the Basilicata Region.
Just like the previous night, the house appetizer had cured meats with numerous local cheeses. They also had the marinated eggplant as well as fried small fish that were marinated in vinegar. Yum!
Since I don’t eat mushrooms, Tommaso ate the majority of this dish. He did say that the porcini mushrooms were a little overpowering where the sausage flavor got lost.
Thick spaghetti noodles were tossed in a simple fresh tomato sauce and succulent shrimp. I did want a little more flavor from aromatics such as alliums or herbs.
We both loved the braciole and meatballs where the meat was so flavorful. Definitely a winner.
Juicy and tender roasted rabbit was perfumed with white wine. So tasty!
Fried zucchini (marinated in a vinegar mixture) and the ciambotta (fried bell peppers, eggplant, and potatoes) both made excellent side dishes to go along with the meats.
Semifreddo is a cold whipped dessert (almost like ice cream but not quite) but this pistachio chocolate “semifreddo” was more like a mousse as it wasn’t cold. Regardless of that, the flavor was superb and we both enjoyed it. The cassata tartufo, an Italian gelato dessert with layers of different flavors, was ok. Not my favorite.
While Maratea might not be a huge tourist destination as it’s not known by many foreigners, I’m so glad I got to visit this lovely town. With marvelous scenery and scrumptious home cooking, this hidden gem is one of a kind.