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Maiori, Province of Salerno, Campania

Situated along the spectacular Amalfi coast, the town has a very ancient and remarkable history. Today it is a lively tourist resort, boasting the longest uninterrupted sandy beach on the Amalfi coastline, as well as a rich cultural life. In the summertime also ferry services to Capri are available.

Info

  • Population: about 5,600 inhabitants
  • Zip/postal code: 84010
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 089
  • Patron Saint: Santa Maria a Mare, celebrated on 15 August
  • Frazioni & Localities: San Pietro, Santa Maria delle Grazie, Ponteprimario, Vecite, Erchie

History - Antiquity

The origins of Maiori are lost in the mist of time; according to one tradition, it was founded by the Etruscans, with the name of Cossa or Bossa, which then became Posula under the Romans, already a tourist resort, as shown by the ruins of a Villa of the 1st century AD in nearby Minori. Local historian Cerasuoli recorded the discovery of Etruscan pottery in a sepulchre in 1835 during restoration works, but unfortunately the items were lost. Under the Etruscans the founder, Reghinna, gave his name to the place, and the adjective Major was added to distinguish it from the nearby Reghinna Minor. The major and minor adjectives probably distinguished two small streams that flow near Maiori and Minori.

Archeological findings seem to confirm that this was the only area of Etruscan settlements in Campania, and Maiori may have been the refuge of the survivors of the mythical Etruscan city called Marcinna (identified by some scholars with Vietri sul Mare), destroyed by a flood or raid; this hypothesis explains how the Etruscans' sea mastery, passed on from generation to generation, contributed in the early Middle Ages to the foundation of the Amalfi Mariner Republic.

History - the Middle Ages

In the early Middle Ages Maiori was part of the Amalfi confederation, which included the towns and villages between Lettere and Tramonti to the north, and between Cetara and Positano to the south, as well as the island of Capri. Maiori was at the time a port with many docks and the seat of the Admiral, the Customs, and the Salt Deposit. The wind coming from the northern town of Tramonti was called by the Maiorese people "Tramontana", which is still a general name used in the Italian language for cold winds coming from the north, and this name was also painted on the early compass (whose invention is disputed between Flavio Gioia of Amalfi and Chinese sailors). The shipyards of Maiori continued their activity also after the fall of the Amalfi Republic.

What to see

  • The Palazzo Mezzacapo, today the seat of the townhall, in the Corso Reginna, once the mansion of Marquis di Mezzacapo, with a fine courtyard; in one room there is a fresco possibly the work of Ludwig Richter.
  • The church of Santa Maria a Mare, with its unmistakable dome covered by majolica tiles; built in the 12th century on a previous chapel to St. Michael the Archangel, located on Monte Torina, changed name in 1204 after a statue of the Virgin Mary was found on the seashore of Maiori.
  • The Castle of San Nicola de Thoro-Plano, a huge, wide fortress covering 7500 square meters, build in the 15th century and renovated in the 18th.
  • The Monastery of Santa Maria Olearia, founded in 973 AD by Benedictine monks who established an oilpress on the site.

Events and Festivities

  • The celebration of the Carnival in February, called Gran Carnevale Maiorese
  • The Rossellini Film Festival, held in Maiori because it was the set of a famous movie, Paisà.
  • The festivity of Madonna Avvocata, with a pilgrimage to the sanctuary on Whitsuntide
  • 15 August, feast in honor of patron Santa Maria a Mare.
  • August, the eggplant festival at frazione Vecite.

Where to stay

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