The charming, living, working village of Castellabate is a traditional Italian medieval hill top village, just over an hour further south from the famous Amalfi coast. Castellabate is a maze of ancient streets, alleyways, and local restaurants serving traditional food.
Castellabate has spectacular views over the bay of Santa Maria and San Marco, the surrounding countryside, the Island of Capri and distant views of the Amalfi Coastline. Castellabate and the Cilento National Park have been recognised by UNESCO as world heritage site since 1998.
The name of CastrumAbbatis - Castello dell’Abate – is linked to the construction of the castle, which was started by Abbot Costabile Gentilcore in 1123.
The old town of Castellabate located within the NationalPark of Cilento and Vallo di Diano, is recognized by the UNESCO as the “Humanity Patrimony” in the section of “ Man and Biosphere “ program. Let’s start from this information - that gives recognition to the profound value of this “Cultural Landscape”, full of memories, artistic and natural masterpieces - and go to discover this village which still maintains the medieval urban structure. Small streets, angles, arch, short staircases, palaces, widening and interconnected houses, where the grey stone dominates, are lined up without continuity, sometimes with their backs turned on intense lights and sometimes opening themselves to the green of the hillside inclined towards the sparkling sea, spotted only by white colour of posidonias, in one of the most striking angles of Cilento’s coast.
The castle, wanted by San Costabile, was not only a place of cult, but also an economic and social centre of certain importance, and, in that period, a land tax reform was accomplished by Beato Simeone. He entrusted lands to farmers, asking them in change to reclaim and cultivate. Soon, the wetland and malarian territory turned to its old seafaring vocation of commerce and fishing. The landlords and ship-owners found means to make Castellabate richer by constructing palaces, churches, villas and gardens.
On two extreme parts of the village, there are Villa Principe di Belmonte and Villa Matarazzo on coastal part of Santa Maria. They preannounce the appeal that later on is discovered in a web of narrow streetsthat lead towards the rectangular square, where you can enjoy a beautiful panorama of the valley descending towards the sparkling sea of Licosa. The square is surrounded by old houses that make this medieval seashore light and vague, while the castle, located on the top of a slightly uphill course, completes the impression. It was Abbot Costabile who set the first stone on October 10th 1123. The fortress, built to protect the population and naval traffic from Saracens invasions, still appears solid and imposing. The walls, with their four rounded towers in their angles, are built at crucial points, enclosing houses, depositories, furnaces and cisterns.
From the fortress not far away there is Basilica di Santa Maria de Giulia church, whose façade (16th century) is joined by a four-floor bell tower. Inside, divided into three naves, it preserves a painting of “San Michele Arcangelo vittorioso su Satana”, painted by an anonymous artist, and altar triptych ” la Vergine in trono con Bambino, San Pietro e San Giovanni Evangelista” by Pavanino da Palermo (1472). Another place of cult , in front of the basilica, is small Chiesa del Rosario church, built in the second part of the 16th century. Inside, there is only one nave, once covered by octagonal chests drawers. It preserves an altar form the 17th century made of polychrome marble. Do not miss a beautiful construction made of arches in small port of Santa Maria called “Cat’s Port”.
The area has so much to offer ....... no wonder it was recently chosen by leading film producers for Italy's best selling film of the year 'Benvenuti al Sud' as well as being described as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy.
You won't need to leave Castellabate to enjoy some of the best restaurants in the area. Eat at IL Castello for a meal you'll never forget. The Belvedere, with it's breath taking spectacular coastal views. IL Calesse, amist wonderful gardens overlooking the bay. IL Caicco on a splendid terrace, At Divinos in the Piazza. AL Borgo, IL Botteghino or Porta LA Chiazza for a snack, Feast at Madonna Della Scala or IL Capriccio both favourites with Italian families.
Taste the sublime, home made, national award winning ice-cream at Bar Ancora in Santa Maria. Or go to La Torretta at San Marco and be dazzled by the array of cakes.
Enjoy the glorious stretches of free beach or rent a sun lounger from one of the beach bar restaurants, where you can choose a snack or a full lunch and your favourite drink.
Take an excursion, go diving, fishing, hire a kayak, windsurfer, boat or pedalo. Get involved in some beach volley ball, football or beach tennis. Or sit in the shade, take it all in and watch the world go by.
Experience the spontaneity of Castellabate & Santa Maria and the buzzy Italian Piazzas, where there's always something to see, do, or get involved in, young or old. Partake in some local Italian night life - Join in, in the passeggiata - Live like the Italians, who love life and live it to the full.