Hiking Southern Italy's Maratea Coast

  |  Gorp.com

Until just a few years ago, hiking was a necessity in the impoverished mountains of southern Italy. The rural roads joining hilltop villages to the coast-bound highways were often washed away by seasonal torrents and broken by neglect. Private automobiles were rare, at least by comparison to the more prosperous north.

In recent years, prospects in southern Italy have changed; little mom-and-pop olive groves have given way to large corporate farms, and everyone, it seems, has a recent-vintage car in which to tool around on the region's still-terrifying but better-maintained mountain roads. Now that the area is more easily accessible, outsiders have begun to discover southern Italy as a vacation spot, and they're been bringing their pastimes, like hiking, with them.

Though still far from crowded, the ancient footpaths of southern Italy's Maratea Coast, in constant use since the Neolithic era, now boast more Vibram-booted walkers than flock-shooing shepherds. Local hiking enthusiasts have made modest improvements on those paths, marking them with unobtrusive signs that point the way to the area's many natural attractions—limestone caves, stony beaches, gushing cliffside springs, and tall mountains among them.

Gregory McNamee is the author or editor of twenty books, including Blue Mountains Far Away: Journeys into the American Wilderness (The Lyons Press), The Serpent's Tale: Snakes in Folklore and Literature (University of Georgia Press), and The Mountain World: A Literary Journey (Sierra Club Books). He travels frequently to southern Italy.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 14 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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