Saturday 3 August 2013

Benvenuti a Castellabate

 Castellabate is the 'sede' or 'capo luogo' to its 2 neighbours, Santa Maria & San Marco, so they both have  'di Castellabate' after their name. Castellabate itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site & lies within the
Parco Nazionale del Cilento, Vallo di Diano e Alburni & sits atop a hill
known by the Lombards & the Benedictines who converted them to Christianity as 'hill of the Holy Angel'. San Costabile Gentilcore, the IVth Abbot of Cava, began the construction of a castle atop the hill on
10th October 1123 but died shortly after building work started. The
castle was completed by his successor, Abbot Simeon of Cava, and
the town grew up around it, tumbling down the hill, houses seeming to cling to each other in an effort not to slide down it.

It is a town of beautifully cobbled alleyways, twisting their way away from the castle in all directions, the upper floors of some dwellings forming 'bridges' where
you seem to tunnel your way through & then suddenly break out into a sun filled
piazza. The main piazza, La Piazza 10 Ottobre 1123, featured heavily in the film
'Benvenuti al Sud', the Post Office supposedly being at one end of
the piazza. For the many Italian tourists who come in search of the film locations, there is one big surprise: there is no Post Office in Castellabate - the building used for the outdoor shots is actually a bar & the main Post Office is down in Santa Maria. However, the piazza does afford stunning views across to San Marco, Case del Conte & the bay of Ogliastro Marina. In fact, we can see our house from the piazza, so, technically, it did appear in the film (if you know precisely where to look).

Needless to say, such a stunning location is very popular with couples wishing to get married here - Civil ceremonies can be held in the castle courtyard & La Basilica Pontificio sees many a local bride marry in front of the huge crowd of relatives they all seem to have. The campanile straddles the flight of stone steps that take you from the castle to the Basilica, and when you are in precisely the right spot, you can glimpse the sea through the central tower arch. Turn right once through the archway and follow the road back up towards the castle and you'll find yourself in La Belvedere, which offers wonderful photo opportunities for 'birds eye view' shots of Santa Maria, such as this one of Marina Piccola & La Torre Perrotti. As you stand there & look down, that's when you truly become enthralled with the magic that is Castellabate.

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