The Cilento's pearl is Castellabate, medieval hilltop village erected a thousand years ago as a stronghold against the Saracens. Castellabate,
situated between Paestum and Velia, offering spectacular panoramic views of the coastline of the Gulf of Salerno and Capri, is one of the most
important beach centres along the Cilento coast – rich in many historical and cultural places. Geographically wide, it consists of five areas:
the Castellabate medieval centre, Santa Maria ( where the Municipal building is located ), San Marco, Ogliastro Marino and Lago. At the foot of
the medieval village of Castellabate ( recognized as part of our shared Unesco World Heritage ) and in an entrancing gulf between Punta Licosa
and Punta Tresino ( a natural sea park ), you can alternatively find long golden sandy beaches and beautiful sea cliffs that make Santa Maria
an ideal tourist site. The charming Mediterranean vegetation and the brilliant sea of Licosa island complete the striking picture of the Cilento coast.
The thousand-year history of this beautiful hidden corner of the area, complete with good weather, the stunning mixed colours between sea &
countryside as well as the flavors of traditional Cilento cuisine combine perfectly to make Castellabate an ideal place for vacations and relaxation.
The medieval town of Castellabate is a centre of great historical and cultural interest, having been in turn occupied by Normans, Saracens,
Byzantines, Spaniards and the French all of whom fought for the town over the centuries. In the Middle Ages Castellabate was the main centre
along the Cilento coast for the cereal, wine and olive oil trade. In 1123 St. Costabile Gentilcore IV, Abbot of the Benedectine Abbey of Cava
dei Tirreni – a town near Salerno – had the Castle built on the hill overlooking the bay, hence the name of “ Castellabate “ – literally “
the Abbot’s Castle “. In the same year the Abbot finished the construction of the Church with its splendid Bell Tower. The church, with its
two naves, contains a c500AD baptismal font, a wood-carved Chorus, a Monumental Confessional and also a beautiful carved lectern, constructed
over the previous one. Because of the many artistic treasures that it preserves, the church was elevated to minor Papal Basilica status with
an Apostolic Letter on August 2th 1988. The Castle, the Papal Basilica, the 12th century’s bell tower, the narrow streets with their medieval
buildings and the patrician palaces are the main historical-artistic attractions of this enchanting town that during the last century hosted
famous people such as Ruggero Leoncavallo and Gioacchino Murat.
The famous beach centre of Santa Maria is located at the north end of Castellabate bay. Preserved from international mass tourism, you will
not find any high-rise concrete buildings. You’ll just be able to enjoy the charm of its traditional white houses with their shiny red roofs
and the waterfront with its bright and relaxing sandy beaches. Because of the beautiful coast, marvellous beaches and the natural friendliness
and welcoming nature of its inhabitants, Santa Maria has become an exclusive tourist destination over the last 20 years. The main street that
runs through the centre of the village has a rich and very lively atmosphere and during the summer S. Maria di Castellabate is truly the beating
heart of Castellabate. S. Maria is also well known for its cosy “ Antiquarium “, a shipwreck’s collection including amphorae & anchors –
testimony to the sheer volume of sea transport and trade in Greek and Roman times. During the summer the Antiquarium is open on demand.
S. Maria also contains the City Hall of Castellabate.
At the south end of Castellabate bay is the village of SAN MARCO. The small fishermens’ harbour is the starting point for wonderful sea tours,
whether you want to go fishing or simply visit the numerous small bays and beaches that can be reached only by sea in the area. Behind the
actual harbour you can see the ruins of the Greco-Roman harbour. Archaeological excavations uncovered over the years and finds from ancient
tombs can be seen at the Paestum Museum. Departing from the harbour there is a beautiful walk to Licosa Island ( see next ). From the harbour
you can also walk beside the sea and across a beautiful natural pathway to the “ pozzillo “ tip from where a long, shining sandy beach that
connects S. Marco to S. Maria begins.
Don’t miss a visit to Punta Licosa, a truly peaceful oasis where nature is still totally unspoilt- in fact the same views that the Greeks
would have seen millennia ago when they founded their Colonies on the Cilento coast. You can easily reach Licosa Island – the furthest tip
of the Stella Mountains promontory – by boat or on foot. The Punta Licosa Natural Sea Park is one of the best preserved areas of the Cilento coast.
We also suggest you take a beautiful excursion by sea to Licosa Island: at San Marco harbour it’s possible to rent for convenient rates a
powerboat ( no driver’s license is required ) with which you can go to Licosa island ( guided excursions also depart fro the harbour ).
You can also reach the island by land : starting from the harbour, it’s possible to go ( approximately a 3 km walk each way ) via beautiful
and relaxing paths by the sea into the National Park.