A sunny, picturesque town, with flowered terraces descending to the sea, Meta is full of wonderful stories and is one of the most enchanting places on the Sorrentine Peninsula.
There are many different interpretations as to the origins of its name.
Some say that it got its name from an ancient house whose construction was never completed. Others say it comes from the quality of the grapes cultivated on the hills of the countryside, whilst others believe its name derives from the geographic position, that it’s where the actual Basillica of Santa Maria del Lauro, rose, and which in bygone times was a milestone for the Sorrentine Peninsula.
Historical events suggest Meta was founded around the VII century A.D.
In the IX century, the town enjoyed a thriving economy with trade between the Oriental countries, thanks to its fleet of mercantile ships. It was during this time that the Madonna del Taborre’s statue was transported from Palestine to Meta, and following an apparition seen amongst the Laurel trees, she became known as the Madonna of the Laurel. The townspeople wanted the sanctuary to be built in the exact place in which the apparition appeared.
The Basillica of Santa Maria del Lauro was declared in 1913 a monument. Today it has a Neoclassical front above a staircase and has Baroque bell tower with a majolica-tiled cupola. The interior is elegant and bright and is adorned with valuable marble, plaster, gold and works of art. Behind the metallic entrance door, a wooden door from the second half of the ‘500’s, with 24 inlaid teak bricks illustrating the Mysteries of the Rosary, has been preserved.
To the right of the presbytery is the chapel of the Madonna del Lauro, an 8th century inlaid marble adorns the plumes of the cupola with its Evangelistic frescoes by Giuseppe Bonito; at the alter is the ancient statue of the Madonna carved from lime-tree wood. In the vestryone can admire the frescoes done by Costantino Desiderio, which symbolise the triumph of Faith; there are inlaid wooden cupboards and a magnificent painting by Luca Giordano which tells of the expulsion of the merchants by Jesus during the das of old Jerusalem.
The part of Meta that has still remained a secret are the ancient pathways that connected the villages of the Sorrentine Peninsula: Montechiaro, Casini, Alberi, Camaldoli e Arola. The WWF studied the route and included them with the 8 Sorrentine Peninsula escursions.
Five of the most important trails take about 4 hours to do. Montechiaro is the first, , with its numerous natural balconies of rare beauty. The second trail is to Mount Sant’Angelo, locally called ‘Casini’, where one can see
migratory birds, birds of prey and foxes.
The route then takes you down to Alberi, a suburb which hosts one of the first nautical schools on the Sorrentine Peninsula. Going up towards Via Camaldoli one reaches a hill of the same name and which preserves with its name the memory of an ancient isolated convent, Camaldoli.
One approaches from across an old fortification that reveals a smooth, open space, with secular oak trees. From the terrace one can enjoy a fantastic panorama that stretches from the Gulf of Naples to Salerno.
To reach the other notable tourist towns from Meta is easy. With the local train, the circumvesuviana , which stops at Meta every 20 minutes, one can easily get to where you want to in less than an hour. The archeological sites of Pompei, Oplonti and Herculanum are reachable, or even Naples, to do some shopping. With the SITA bus , you can reach Positano, Amalfi and Ravello.
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