Hiking Southern Italy's Maratea Coast
An easier trail of about the same distance as the Percorso Monte Crivo begins south of the Marina di Maratea near Castrocucco Beach. Here, the ruins of a Norman castle overlook a small rocky island into which the sea has carved a series of deep grottos. The trail climbs to just above 1,300 feet (400 m) above sea level along the Vallone Arenara ("sandy vale"), ending near the hills dotted with olive groves above the hamlet of Massa. From there, you can descend along a narrow auto road to Maratea, or cross to the Percorso Monte Crivo due north. Again, from Maratea, plan on about three hours each way.
A third trail, known locally as the Malvello, runs roughly midway between Maratea and the mountaintop village of Trecchina. The trail is a little more than 5.5 miles (9 km) long and takes 4-5 hours. The Malvello trail follows a broad coastal plane below Monte Coccovello, a steep, 4,941-foot (1,505 m) rise that affords a view of Lagonegro, the village where, legend has it, the smiling woman who sat for Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa lived out her last years. Paths to the mountaintop are unsigned but easy to follow. A marked trail leads to the tiny cliffside village of Cersuta, then continues along a rocky beach that commands a sweeping view of the Gulf of Policastro. A few private campsites have been set up along this beach, and, if you're inclined to rough it, just pitch a tent there and wait for someone to come along to collect the fee, which runs to about 5,000 lire, or under $2.50, a night.
If, however, you want to treat yourself to a good meal and a luxurious bed after all that walking, take the trail fork that leads from the Rocca di Mezzo to the village of Acquafredda. The village is only about two miles as the crow flies but involves a steep descent of nearly 1,725 feet (525 m). There you'll find the Villa Cheta, a restored eighteenth-century villa in which a four-course gourmet meal and seaside room can be had for under $100 a night even in high season. Another payoff awaits in the turquoise-blue cove of Acquafredda just below the villa, where three cold freshwater springs bubble out into the Mediterranean, making for a wonderfully bracing swim.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication