Maiori, enchanting fishing village, World Heritage Site
Só’ mure janche da ‘o sole pittate,
feneste verde, luggette fiurite…
cunvente appise, viarelle scavate
ca, dint’a ll’acqua, se stanno a specchiá – Popular song
In the post WW II period, Maiori was already a popular tourist destination for the international jet set. The general public began to know it when Roberto Rossellini chose it in the early ’50s as the location for some of his films, as Paisan, Ways of Love, The Machine that Kills Bad People, Voyage in Italy. In deference to the neo-realist era, many people of Maiori participated in the filming. One for all, Alfonso Bovino, who starred as the urchin in the film Paisan.
Maiori, at the foot of the mountains, is located not far from Minori, at the beginning of a rocky promontory that marks the southern boundary of the Gulf of Salerno. This is a historic town of the Amalfi Coast. The earliest records date back to Etruscan and Roman times, when it was called Rheginna Maior, to not confuse it with Rheginna Minori, that is, Minori. In several hamlets of Maiori, such as Lazzaro, Lama, Vena and Paie, you can visit very old residential areas, characterized by a typical Mediterranean-Arabic style. Maiori, as the whole Amalfi Coast, is listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1997. This recognition is the most significant testimony of the historical and cultural value of the town. The beauty of its art, architecture and nature, the traditions preserved over the centuries – which find their expression also in local crafts and food, have made Maiori one of the few important places to be preserved and protected.
A Walk in the natural landscape of Maiori, between sea and mountains
The village lies at the end of Tramonti Valley, south of the Lattari Mountains, and is dominated by Mount Falerzio, on which stands the Sanctuary of the Advocate. Tramonti is a so called “extended municipality” as it consists of thirteen villages gathered in a single district which takes its name from the particular position, “intra montes” that is, enclosed in the mountains. The most beautiful sight of Maiori opens towards the headland, the Park of Capo d’Orso. The park covers an area of 3,000 hectares and is unique both from a scenic point of view and for the diversity of animals and plants that inhabit it. The flora is typically Mediterranean, with forests of oak and chestnut trees. Geological changes over the promontory have generated several natural caves on the slopes, including the cave of Porta di Monte Piano and a series of caves on different levels connected by tunnels.
Lovers of nature walks are very likely to come across foxes, hedgehogs, weasels and the luckiest may even meet badgers. The forests of Capo d’Orso are inhabited by buzzards, and peregrine falcons, now endangered species. With a walk of about 2 hours through vineyards and forests starting from the hamlet of Casale, you reach the source of Scalese and then Badia, famous for the presence of grottos and catacombs. Continuing along the ridge of Monte Piano, you reach the promontory of Capo d’Orso, which enjoys an amazing view. With a single glance, you will cross the Amalfi Coast up to the Island of Capri, and the Gulf of Salerno up to the coast of Cilento.
Beyond the headland, towards Salerno, behind the lighthouse of Capo d’Orso, lies Erchie, one of the most famous beaches of Maiori. Bounded by the promenade Giovanni Amendola, and its continuation Gaetano Capone, Erchie is the longest beach of the Amalfi Coast. In almost a kilometer of sand, between two Saracen watchtowers, every summer some fifteen bathing establishments welcome thousands of tourists.
Tidbits: recently, the palms of Minori’s waterfront have been replaced, due to a botany redevelopment project. The reason? The Red Palm Weevil, a beetle that has caused the gradual decay of the palms. The new plant set is called Garden of Colors: the several relocated species ensure a flowering period of 5-7 months a year.
Saints, churches and castles
Even in Maiori, as in all the towns of the Amalfi Coast, the main places of historical and tourist interest are churches. The church of Santa Maria a Mare, a Basilica dating back to the XIII century, is certainly worth a visit for its magnificent pipe organ, (about 1700 pipes precisely) renovated in recent years and brought back to the original sound. The Collegiate hosts the Museum of Sacred Art Don Clemente Confalone, which displays busts of great value, as well as vestments and silver ornaments.
The church of S. Francis, built in 1400, has been restored several times due to looting and storm surges. Nowadays, it rather resembles a building of the early 1800s: the garden of the convent adjoining the church hosts the cave of S. Bernardino. Here, the Holy One made water gush out from the rock. In the surroundings of the town, it is worth visiting the castle of St. Nicholas de Thoro-Plano, in the Accola e Carpineto district, while in the historical centre of Maiori, along the shopping street Corso Reginna, which is also the “sweethearts street”, you can visit Mezzacapo Palace, now home to the historical archive and public library.