MAIORI: A PEACEFUL OASIS BETWEEN SEA AND NATURE
Anyone who has the chance to visit Maiori will instantly realize how special it is. The city is located along one of the most fascinating and jagged coasts in the world, where the mountains, rich in colorful and fragrant vegetation, meet the crystalline waters. Maiori is a peaceful oasis between sea and nature that you do not want to miss.
by Barbara Iovine
With the longest beach on the Amalfi Coast, which extends for about 1 km, the city of Maiori is the perfect destination for seaside tourism. The clear waves meet the sandy beach, very well-equipped for every kind of need. Besides, just behind the seafront, the Monti Lattari and their typical cultivated terraces stand out, while the historic center boasts an artistic and cultural heritage of great value.
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The ancient Reghinna Major
The origins of the city are not very clear: some scholars claim that the Etruscans laid the foundations of the ancient Maiori, originally called Reghinna Major. Others believe that it was founded by the people who escaped after a flood from the nearby Marcinna (today's Vietri sul Mare).
Maiori became part of the “Confederation of the Amalfi States” in 842, together with the nearby towns, and in 872 this became what we remember as the most ancient Sea Republic in history.
In the first half of 1900, Maiori was chosen by many famous people not only as a holiday destination but also as a film set for their works. The director Roberto Rossellini was a great Amalfi Coast admirer, and he shot several of his masterpieces in Maiori, such as "Paisà", “Il miracolo”, “La macchina ammazza cattivi” e “Amore”.
The beaches of Maiori and the coastal towers
When visiting Maiori, especially if you arrive by sea, it is impossible not to notice the fascinating coastal towers built, between the 9th and the 17th century, with the purpose of defending the city from invasions.
Some of the most famous towers are located in Erchie (one of Maiori's hamlets), such as the majestic Torre Normanna, and La Cerniola. In the same district there are also the very popular Marina di Erchie, a beautiful beach, and many coves only accessible by sea, the largest of these is Spiaggia del Cauco, 150 m long.
Maiori as well is very much appreciated for its beaches, and even if it is a small town, it hosts the longest beach of the whole area: one kilometer of fine sand diving into the turquoise sea.
You will find two outstanding large and well-equipped beaches, sandy and very popular. Immediately after the city center and the Torre Normanna you will find the Spiaggia di Salicerchie, accessible by descending 160 steps. Impossible not to mention the spectacular Spiaggia del Cavallo Morto (the Dead Horse Beach), which unfortunately is considered inaccessible because it is affected by landslides.
Maiori and its churches
A tour of the city will certainly include a visit to its churches, although it is really difficult to choose which one to prefer among the many. Here are the ones you cannot miss!
Let's start from the Collegiata di Santa Maria a Mare, reachable from the main street of Maiori. It stands on the promontory of mount Torina and, in addition to the splendid view of its majolica dome, you will have an attractive view of the city and the gulf. The church houses the wooden statue of the Vergine con il Bambino -found in the sea after being thrown to lighten the load of a ship- the monumental polyphonic organ by Zeno Fedeli, and the crypt with the remains of St. Clemente.
Another church noteworthy of a visit is complesso Abbaziale di Santa Maria dell’Olearia. This structure, perfectly carved into the white rock, is a real historical jewel composed of three superimposed chapels. The church preserves prestigious frescoes and various artworks, and although it is often not included in the classic tourist routes, as it is a bit far from the city center, it is worth dedicating a little of your time.
Among the other churches of Maiori: the Chiesa del Santissimo Rosario, in Baroque style, which has a peculiar rose window depicting the Vergine del Rosario, sets in the finely curated stone portal, the Chiesa di San Francesco, near the port and the Chiesa dell'Arciconfraternita dell'Orazione.
Palazzo Mezzacapo, its fabulous Gardens, and the Castles
Your visit can continue in the city center, at the ancient Palazzo Mezzacapo - not to be confused with the homonymous Castle - the old residence of the Marquis Mezzacapo. With its cross-shaped fabulous gardens, with choreographic and elegant fountains, it is the perfect location to spend a few hours in complete relaxation. During the summer they become the marvelous setting for several shows and events.
Inside the palace, instead, it is of particular interest the discovery of a fresco, which is believed to have been painted by the great artist Ludwig Richter.
At last, let's not forget about Maiori's castles: the fabulous Castello Mezzacapo, which incorporates the tower of the same name, and the Castello di San Nicola de Thoro-Plano, the bulwark of the ancient city defensive system, reachable after climbing a series of steps.
How to get there
In Maiori, you will also have the opportunity to organize exciting excursions. You can reach by boat the Grotta di Pandora and admire its suggestive submerged rock formations, or the Grotta Sulfurea, where you will find a source of sulfur water. The naturalistic attractions of these caves are visible below sea level, and you can appreciate them while remaining on board.
On the mainland instead, you can visit the promontory Capo d'Orso, (Bear Head) which preserves a truly remarkable environmental heritage, or the Sentiero dei limoni (the Path of Lemons). The latter is one of the most beautiful paths in Italy, which connects the city to the nearby Minori. Walking through it, you will be surrounded by the fresh scent of citrus fruits while enjoying unforgettable landscapes.
- According to the legend narrated by the Latin writer Pliny, the city of Maiori descends from the Roman goddess Maia (goddess of fertility, of growth), from which the name of the city derives its origins.
- Towards Erchie there is Cava Bellavia, better known as Spiaggia del Cavallo Morto, reachable only by sea. Several theories explain the etymology of this “grim” name, but the most accredited is the one that says this beach was the place where equine bodies, exhausted from work, were abandoned.
- The Spiaggia del Cavallo Morto is considered one of the most beautiful beaches on the Coast and was recently the scene of the latest film by Christopher Nolan, Tenet.
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