Ascea (Marina di Ascea) is one of the most popular seaside tourist destinations of Cilento and home to the Velia Archaeological Park, world famous site.
The extraordinary beauty of the coast is also due to an enchanting 7 km sandy beach and a crystal-clear sea, already praised by Virgil, and today awarded the Blue Flag beaches of Europe as well as the Sails of Legambiente and TCI. The mild climate of this area was already known in the past, so much that here, in Elea-Velia, stayed Augustus (returning from the Orient), Cicero, Paullus Aemilius, Horace, Brutus and other illustrious figures of Rome.
On the sandy area located south of Marina, in a protected spot-one of the very few examples of Mediterranean Dune-blooms the increasingly rare Sea Daffodil (Pancratium maritimum). The endemic "Broom of Cilento" (Genisteae), instead, is perched on the cliffs of Punta Del Telegrafo, Site of Community Importance, famous for its vegetation and the geological stratification known as "Flysch of Cilento". At the summit of Punta Del Telegrafo rises the Tower, almost a defensive outpost of the monumental cliff, overlooking beautiful beaches, superb bays, sometimes inaccessible cliffs, caves (where fishermen took refuge), and mysterious grottoes. Small coves hide the clear sea bed of "Baia d’argento" and "Baia delle Rondinelle" set immediately behind “Scuoglio ri nanti" (Further rock), the last point of contact with the mainland.
Of great interest from an historical point of view is the boat procession in honor of Our Lady of Portosalvo. Every year, on August 27th, the statue of the Virgin crosses the coast of Ascea, an ancient ritual that expresses the close link between people and the sea. Another example of local tradition is the procession of Saint Antony: every year on the first Tuesday of August the statue of the Saint is carried through the town, preceded by the faithful -mostly women- bringing on their heads votive offerings (usually 100 candles adorned with colourful ribbons that keep candles together in the form of a boat, a castle or an egg) to thank for the Saint’s intervention that put an end to the epidemic of plague.
Inland there is the remarkable village of Terradura. The urban plan is typically medieval: it develops around the two most important religious monuments: the Church of St. Michael the Archangel and the Church of St. Sophia built by Italian-Greek monks, founders of the village.
Going on from Terradura the road climbs up to Mandia, which is 504 m above sea level. Mandia was a fortified village in the Middle Ages: the town centre is a jewel set in the greenery of Cilento National Park.
The highest hamlet of Ascea, Catona, is located at 515 m above sea level. Worth visiting the town centre, the sanctuary of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and a church dedicated to St. Nicholas of Myra
See also: Velia Archaeological Area
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