MARINA DI CAMEROTA
In a prior post of mine I wrote that Campania is rich in culture, especially in regards to gastronomy, music, architecture, archaeological and ancient sites. The rich natural sights of Campania make it highly important in the tourism industry, especially along the coast. A coastline of 350 km long facing the Tyrrhenian Sea where the most important gulfs spread, as Policastro one.
And it’s about this tract of coast – in the province of Salerno – that I want to talk about now.
Salerno is a city and a Comune (administrative division) situated in the south-western Campania area just at the end of the famous Amalfi coast. Today Salerno is an important cultural centre that had a long and eventful history with a rich and varied culture. Being located at the geographical center of a virtual triangle nicknamed – 3 ‘P’ Tourist Triangle – because a triangle with the corners in Pompei, Paestum and Positano, this peculiarity gives Salerno special tourist characteristics.
The largest tract of coast on the southern side of the Province of Salerno, that include Salerno and Policastro gulfs, is called “Cilento Coast” extending from Paestum in north-west, to Sapri in the south-east. Along this coastline many municipalities are located, with many small countries and towns not directly along the coast but on the numerous hills and in the mountainous area of the hinterland. One of the characteristic of this zone just is the presence of different Marinas (seacoasts) belonging to some rural communities located, instead, on mounts and hills nearby.
Possibly, one of the reason is due to the continual raids by pirates and then by Saracens, in the past.
One of these Communes is Camerota a village in the southern area of Cilento that is part of the “Vallo di Diano”, a valley situated between the Alburni mountains, a National Park World Heritage Site of Italy from 1998.
Camerota, an ancient rural country, has its own Marina along the near coast and is called “Marina di Camerota”, a small picturesque town of 3,600 inhabitants which still conserves intact many of the alleys and streets of the old fisherman’s village.
Someone thinks that the name Camerota comes by the ancient Greek name “Kamaroton” that means “made by arches” due to the numerous caverns (200 nearly) and arched coves of the zone. Anyway, the village is dated back to XVI century under the power of the marquis of Camerota whose old castle still is present in front of the harbour by now in ruins.
Marina di Camerota is 5 km from Camerota, 8 from Palinuro, 25 from Policastro and 90 from Salerno.
Coming out as a fisherman’s village originally, there is no town-planning while the increase in inhabitants during the last decades brought to a ‘concrete jungle’ specially around the local small harbour area. Area that rises sloping upwards from the waterfront till the main road that take to the oldest town (in the picture up on the left).
Most buildings are two or three floors only and in same case, having the owner to use the whole ground, the building assumed a bizarre shape.
Aside from the main street crossing the harbour, most alleys are small with some very narrow and some other blind. Somewhere you can find some arch built in the edifice to give a passageway in the street and many “basso” (the typical small Neapolitan accommodation which houses the lower social classes, lower ground and with a direct view of the road).
Usually, in the building is living the owner with his family while some other flat often is vacated and let for rent out to tourists coming there during the summertime. Once, it was a custom for most Neapolitan families to rent a home in the sea-country where they had decided to spend their summer holiday and many still are doing it today. Local owners lately report that, as time goes by, less tourists rent a flat or, because the last slump, families do it for a shorter span of time. Despite we find tourists around from June to September, Marina of Camerota becomes crowded on July and August mainly.
Since this village is tranquil and hospitable, it became reputed to be the optimum for a tourism “family oriented” thus, on July or August there is no wonder to see around a lot of kids and adolescents, specially at nighttimes when a “tide” of young people walk or rove the promenade in group. Along the seafront some seaside-resort (lido) becomes at night a sort of disco while on the main street many shops, bars and ice-cream sellers stay open late in the night too. In Marina di Camerota there are various restaurants and pizzerias but some hotel and guesthouse too.
Besides, along the state-highway crossing the coast from Marina di Camerota to Palinuro the signs announce the presence of a lot of vacation-villages or camping and most of them have a private strand.
Most Camerota and its Marina inhabitants are old people and once, because the lack of job and resources, many of them emigrated in Southern America and mainly inVenezuela where many years ago its resource gave to the immigrants the possibility to find occupation and earn.
Often money came in useful to build a dwelling in their country Marina di Camerota too where many immigrants then came back many years after to stay there forever. Others families, instead, still stay in the southern America but they went back in Marina di Camerota every year to spend their summer holidays. For this reason in Marina of Camerota you find some memorial dedicated to Venezuela, some seaside-resort with a Venezuelan name or some old people still using Venezuelan words and language.
But, due to its natural and landscape attraction, in this place we can find foreigners too as Germans people and specially at the start of the summertime.
I was captivated by this sea country fifteen years ago when for the first time I spent there my holiday.
The habitual tourists told me that it was a wild place and once even very difficult to reach because on that time the only route to follow was a mountain path sort.
The best route is the exit to “Battipaglia”, a country in the province of Salerno, whose state highway SS18runs along the southern Salerno coast then going uphill till the “Vallo della Lucania” where the highway ends and a recent overpass clearway arrives till Sapri with the exit “Poderia” for reach Marina di Camerota and Palinuro.
Here, you are in the “Vallo di Diano” area, on the Mount Bulgheria mountainside (mounts Alburni chain) and coming down you can see the stunning view of the old and abandoned country of San Severino in province of Centola just on the peak of the mountain called “devil’s gorge”.
Going on you will take the state highway “SS 562 or Mingardina” and from here to Marina of Camerota the stretch or road then is easy and short.
In my opinion the thing that captivated more about Marina of Camerota and of Cilento in general is the coastline.
Since the Apennines flanks along the coast in this zone, coastline and beaches are rocky and jagged giving back wondrous landscapes with majestic sheer rock-face or small attractive beaches.
Along the coast, seawater assumes different shades of blue with places where it’s clear and transparent.
The most famous country beaches here are Marina of Camerota and Palinuro so close together and similar to become difficult understand where the coast of one starts and ends also if Marina of Camerota is part of the Policastro gulf that starts from the “Infreschi” spot and ends with Scalea coast in Calabria (another region). A gulf extending across three Regions even and morphologically looking like a big semicircular bay.
The gulf as the entire Cilento coastline (nearly 63 mi. long) is made up of wonderful beaches with steep barren rocks and small harbours.
Over thousands years the coast has been eroded by the seawater so that it is now very ragged with many caverns small and big.
Some cave is located on the beaches while others are submerged or half-submerge. Some of them even must have been used in pre-historic times, in fact, in a cave called “Grotta sepolcrale” (Sepulchral grotto) was discovered the remains of a prehistoric man called “Camerotense Man” (man from Camerota) a coeval of Neanderthal Man. For these reasons Camerota, as Palinuro, archaeology testifies its ancient origin through the Greek remains found around. Along the Cilento coast we also find numerous old turrets and castles remains, with some well-preserved, built to defend the locality by sea raids.
From long, the harbour is the most important public work providing the foundation for the local economy. Fishing, port activities and tourism are the main resources nowadays. The fishing fleet is specialized in tuna and swordfish deep-sea fishing. Also flourishing is the production of earthenware with vase jugs and dishes. Once, thanks to the presence of particular herbaceous plant, a sort of esparto, a craft was diffused, producing grass ropes woven with long strands of grass and used for cultivation of mussels or to get baskets.
Marina di Camerota coast is 13,7 mi. long nearly, from the Mingardo river mouth to the beach of Mergellina bordering the small Scario country.
The sea is dangerous in places, easily accessible in others owing to its shallowness but, always charmingly inviting. The beauty of Camerota coastline is also due to its creeks and grottos that inhabitants have stuck on particular nicknames.
The biggest sandy beaches starts at Mingardo mouth and, spaced out by some rocky spur, arrives till Marina of Camerota dock area where coastline then becomes high and serrated. For this reason Marina of Camerota area surrounding the village gets three sandy beaches, as three inlets separated by rock masses, called, from north to south: “Calanga”, “Marina Grande” and “Lentiscella” that local tourists can enjoy easily.
Calanga with its others small beaches in the surroundings and a little oxbow in front of “Torre dello scoglio” (Cliff’s Tower), looks like a small inlet out a precipitous cliff.
Marina Granderefers to the beach with the harbour of the village then followed from Letiscella beach as a scythe eastward.
Anyway, others bays and beaches can be within easy reach by boat or by car as the western Mingardo beach, the biggest sandy strand of the zone running from “Torre della Fenosa” to the “Scoglio del Mingardo” (Mingardo cliff) where, at the extreme west point, a huge rock lays out on the beach with a spectacular opening inside and for this reason called “Arco Naturale” (Natural Arch); then the pine grove beach, the “Cala del Cefalo” (Mullet Cove), “Cala Finocchiaro”, “Cala d’Arconte”, “Capo Grosso”, “Cala Ecini” (in Greek echino is for sea-urchin, because in this cove there are many sea-urchins). “Cala delle Sirene” (Mermaids beach) is the last enchanting beach before the village of Marina di Camerota. Westward, after the massive “Torre Zancale”, comes “Cala Fortuna” (Fortune cove), another uneven inlet with some Roman temple remains dedicated to the goddess Fortune on the top of the rocky point. Now coastline become steeper and the presence of some “Faraglioni” (stacks) emerging from the sea announces the stunning sight of “Cala Monte di Luna” (Moon mount cove) beneath a steep rock face. Hence and till Mergellina there are some wondrous beach and impressive grottos that deserve to be mentioned.
“Grotta del Pozzallo” two big grottos next to an idyllic beach; “Cala Bianca” (White cove) so called because a small beach with white pebbles with a splendid view of the Gulf of Policastro; “Grotta di San Taddeo” (St. Thaddeus grotto), “Grotta delle Noglie” (Sausage grottos) so called for the particular stalactites which look like sausage (named “noglie” in dialect). Then the famous “Cala Infreschi” whose name comes from the coolness of the seawater in the close homonymous cavern (due to some submarine spring water) where once the fishermen stored the fishes before coming back in Camerota port.
Along the western coast others picturesque caves as “Grotta dei Porci” (Pigs grotto) on the homonymous beach, so called because it’s said that there the enchantress Circe attracted Aeneas sailors transforming them into pigs, according to the epic poems Iliad and Odyssey. The “Grotta del Sangue” (Blood cave) because the red coloration of the rocks in the sea due to some algae. “Grotta delle ossa ” (Bones cave) or “Prehistoric grotto” where different prehistoric bones were found and “Cala Fetente” (Stinking cove) because the submarine sulphureous emanations that make yellow the rock over the surface of the water.
In general, the rock is so cavernous and rough for the presence of limestone rocks (carbonate massifs) easily erodible whereas most part of the coast is calcareous-dolomitic. The mix of the stones composition together the environmental action (ocean and weather mainly) give to the coast different colouration with white and grey colours predominant.
Between the land and sea the sun heats the beaches and the ancient rocks lapped by the riptide.
The rocky cliffs form spires and pinnacles here and there through colours ranging from dazzling white to bright ochre and from the grey to the black interspersed with lone tufts of vegetation.
The rocks flame up at sunset while the seagulls flap in and out the coves being the only inhabitants of the steep cliffs offshore and exchanging their last calls before darkness comes.
The blue ocean ranges from the turquoise to the midnight-blue along the coast in a heavenly and unspoiled angle that – not for nothing – was called “the coast of the Myth” or “the coast born by the sea”, just one of the most beautiful and unexpected places on the Tyrrhenian sea.
Since a picture often is worth more than dozen of words, here’s now a short slideshow for you. Click on the thumbnail to get it bigger.