Maratea is a hill village high above the sea on Italy’s southern Tyrrhenian coast, in the region of Basilicata. It’s a good destination for a peaceful longer stay, or for a two or three-night break on a tour of the south. The setting is impressive: below steep wooded slopes, with sparkling glimpses of the sea through a steep pass, and high bare-ridged mountains stretching inland. The area around the town includes little beaches, a marina and a hill crowned by a giant statue of Christ.

A picturesque village with one or two rather smart places to stay, Maratea is both a simple and a refined holiday destination. The town’s small size, steep slopes and distance above the sea mean it is unlikely ever to become a mass-tourism destination. It is a holiday spot for Italy aficionados, and for those in tune with the rich but slow pace of Italian life. Like the cave-town of Matera, Basilicata’s other leading tourist destination, Maratea still has a real sense of history, and enterprising travellers will discover crumbling buildings and overgrown lanes where the smartening-up process hasn’t yet reached.