not in Naples and not even in Campania, but it’s
close—and if you don’t know about it, you should. The last
town in the Campania region of Italy as you move south
along the beautiful Tyrrhenian coast and the mountains of
the Cilento national park
is Sapri. Just beyond, in the Basilicata region, is the
town of Maratea; it is nestled on the hillside below Mt.
San Biagio, overlooking the Gulf of Policastro.
Overlooking Maratea, however, from the 640-meter (1900
ft.) height of Mt. San Biagio, itself, is a remarkable
piece of sculpture —Christ the Redeemer (top right in the
1941 a simple large cross was put up on the mountain
as a war memorial. It stayed there for 20 years. In 1963
that cross was moved to another location near the old
center of Maratea so that construction could begin on the
statue of Christ. Count Stefano Rivetti di Valcervo
proposed the statue and then sponsored the construction.
The statue was designed by Bruno Innocenti (1906-1996) of the
Institute of Fine Arts in Florence. As an artist,
Innocenti was a realist and known for his delicate
renderings of the female form; thus, he was out of step
with the great wave of the avant-garde in
Europe and really out of step with the
muscle-bound hulks of Fascist realism that surrounded him
as a young man. Some of his work decorates theaters such
as the Teatro Comunale in Florence and
the Rome Opera. Most of his works were portable and are
displayed indoors. The vast open-air stage in the
mountains above Maratea is a glorious exception.
was finished in 1965. The statue is made of concrete with
a facing of white Carrera marble and stands 22 meters/72
feet high. By virtue of spectacular location, subject
matter and size, the statue of the Redeemer in Maratea is
reminiscent of the statue that “everyone knows” —the
Redeemer atop Mt. Corcovado in Rio De Janeiro.
Stylistically, however, even the casual observer will
notice differences —the different position of the arms and
hands, for example. The Redeemer of Corcovado is in the
shape of a perfect cross; indeed, from a distance, the
sculpture could be mistaken for a simple cross. The palms
of the Corcovado Redeemer face forward. The Redeemer of
Maratea has arms upraised almost to a 45-degree angle; the
palms face up, and the figure itself is robed with one
side of the bottom section set slightly ahead of the
other, as if the Redeemer were stepping forward. (That
would be perfectly in keeping with the original name of
the work, as reported when Innocenti was still working on
it: Il Cristo
risorgente—Christ Rising, referring to the moment
of Resurrection.) The Corcovado Christ is bearded; it is
traditional and borders on the somber; the Maratea statue
is youthfully —even “angelically” (according to my wife)—
androgynous and joyful. Others may accept that
interpretation as they wish.
(May 2013) added photo directly above: The image is from a 1965 copy of Oggi magazine. It shows the sculptor Bruno Innocenti at work on the unfinished Christ the Redeemer (also known as Christ Rising, or The Christ of Maratea).
(middle photo credit: statue close-up © by and courtesy of W.C. Henderson)