APT Basilicata

APT Basilicata

Basilicata turistica

Metaponto, Policoro and the Jonian coast

The Jonian coast, 35 km long stretching from Metaponto to Nova Siri is completely different to the Tyrrhenian. The last offshoot of the plane which extends from the low hills of Matera towards the Jonian sea, visitors are offered a vast coastline of very fine, golden sand and large beaches of sand and pebbles on the stretch of coast further to the south which faces the Pollino National Park. Here in the VIII B.C. the cities of the ‘Megale Hellas’ (Magna Graecia) were founded and comprised Metaponto, Heraclea (today Policoro), Siris and Pandosia which hosted personalities like Pythagoras and were the scenes of terrible battles such as the one fought by Pyrrhus against the Romans. Signs of this historic past can be found at the archaeological digs in Metaponto and Policoro and in their very important museums, which have so many exhibits that, despite the vast show area available, not everything can be displayed. The Jonian coast is easily reached by car along the roads through the Basento valley (SS 407), through Agri (SS 598) and through Sinni (SS 653) which to the north link up to the A3 Salerno-Reggio Calabria Motorway. A state railway links up the entire coast. Known as the ‘California del Sud’ (the South California) because of the rich agriculture which has been developed here, the Metapontina Plain is today the pride and joy of Lucanian local economy. Enormous quantities of fruit and vegetables which leave from here, are destined to the rest of Italy and Europe because, thanks to the very mild climate - on the Jonian coast the warmer season arrives at the end of March and continues till the beginning of November - the crops ripen one or two months earlier than that on the plains further North. Metaponto and Policoro are the two best known towns on the coast. Metaponto, in the town council of Bernalda, was set up in the sixties as a holiday resort. The area of the ‘lido’ has been developed between the mouths of the rivers Bradano and the Basento. Its beaches are a favourite spot for many sea-lovers; nevertheless the ‘Pancratium maritmum’ or sand lily still grows without bothering too much, adding a note of gentle wildlife to the beaches. Two large coastal pine woods and rows of eucalyptus fill the air with their scents. An interesting place to visit is the railway station as it was a fortified farm. Metaponto Lido today is not only a fully-equipped and comfortable tourist resort but above all has exceptionally good links with the inland, offering lots of wonderful excursions in the entire province of Matera, from its valleys with its gulleys to the woods of its mountains, from the Murgia of Matera to the Sassi and of course the rest of the Jonian coast. Policoro is a country village which was developed after the land reform of the 50s. Boasting a wonderful position on the Jonian coast, it is found right in the hub of that tourism directed for the lands of the Magna Graecia. Its fortunes are closely linked to the events that took place in Siris and Heraclea, which are wonderfully described in the archaeological park and in the museum. The coast in front of Policoro is not unlike that of Metaponto: long stretches of sand, clear blue water and a sea bed which is even deeper here than at Metaponto. One of the lingering memories long after leaving Policoro is the perfume of fruit and flowers which permeates the air especially in spring. The sea water is so clean that these wide beaches, especially in the direction of the mouth of the river Sinni, are the elected breeding grounds of sea turtles including the rare ‘Dermochelide’. And on the subject of nature, the ‘Bosco Pantano’ (the Pantano Wood) is a must for a visit. Found at the mouth of the river Sinni, it is reminiscent of the dense wet forests which only fifty years ago covered the sand dunes almost down to the sea. Today, what is left of the forest is a favourite spot for many wild animals, some migratory and others not. In the midst of such natural beauty the success of tourism in Policoro is assured. Even here there is a host of excursions to choose from and for those who love the sea lessons in sailing as well as in game fishing can be taken. Though Metaponto and Policoro are the recognised jewels in the crown of tourism on the Jonian coast, Nova Siri, situated further to the south of Policoro is fast catching up. Rotondella, which stretches to the sea, boasts a beautiful and quiet beach. Between Metaponto and Policoro, there are the towns of Lido di Quaranotto, the Lido di Pisticci and the Lido of Scanzano Jonico. These have wonderful expanses of fine sand and very comfortable, wide beaches too. Hotel accommodation is good as well as farm holidays and campsites. Scattered along the Jonian coast it is possible to find a fine selection of restaurants capable of satisfying a wide range of tastes. Of course, dishes of the local fare accompanied with the local wines produced in the Metapontino area are recommended.


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