The town that gives its name to the Gulf of Policastro, founded around the sixth century BC, is known in Greek times as Pixous, and is a strategic base for trade which, across the Sinni River, unites the Tyrrhenian and Ionian routes. Pixous, like Poseidonia (the Paestum of the Romans) is in fact a nerve centre on the Tyrrhenian Sea, a colony of the very rich Sybaris.
In Roman times its name became Buxentum. Two names related to a plant very easy to find here: Pixous in Greek and Buxentum in Latin mean Boxwood, a plant that since ancient times has multiple uses thanks to its precious wood.
Around the sixth century A.D. it becomes a bishopric. In the seventh century it was built the Byzantine castle and the name changed to Policastro. The etymology is clearly Greek-Byzantine, from Polùkastron, a term that indicates, in fact, the fortified castle.
In 915 A.D. it is attacked by the Saracen pirates, who completely destroy it: some survivors pass Cape Palinuro to the north and found the Little Pixous, that is Pisciotta. However, the city was rebuilt, then conquered by the Normans of Robert Guiscard, who made a further fortification and the central nave of the Cathedral.
During the Norman period it was created the County of Policastro, which with alternating events — especially destruction due to pirate raids — lasted until the 19th century. The most important monuments mark the succession of these historical periods, and are absolutely worth a visit.
Policastro has in fact walls that surround the historic centre.
These Cyclopean walls date back to 471 BC, clearly a Greek workmanship, remodelled in later times and today in an excellent state of conservation: they are a magnificent example of Italic polygonal walls in which it is possible to recognize traces of Roman and then medieval architecture, in a fascinating mix.
Among famous people born in Policastro, there is even a Roman emperor, Flavio Libio Severo.
Sources, especially Cassiodorus, report that he was emperor in the period of late Roman Empire, from 461 to 465 AD, and that near Castellabate he defeated the barbarian king of the Alans Berigo, who had his military base in the place now called Piano della Corte.
The city planning, with Cardo and Decumanus, is also due to the Roman era, but the historical traces and the artistic and architectural beauties of this little jewel embrace subsequent eras, and today deliver the beauty of a village that deserves to be known not only for the beautiful beaches and the sea but for much more.