Cilento National Park
The Cilento National Park is a lesser-known paradise of jagged coastline and inland hills that combine beautiful seas with green natural splendor. South of Salerno lies the Cilento, where you'll find small seaports, quaint fishing villages painted in a palatte of pastels, and time-worn hill towns resting amidst forested foothills. Natural landscapes and genuine hospitality are the hallmarks of the Cilento, which lies south of the famous Amalfi Coast but is a world away from the crowds and tourist shops. Here, you'll find street markets where locals shop and small stores for everyday life.
Restaurants serve the best of the coast's bounty, but move inland a tad and you can taste the land-based dishes that use the fresh ingredients from the gardens and meats that highlight the south's hill cuisine. Verdant mountains contrast with the azure sea and white fluffy clouds. Unique landscapes will mesmerize you, and the hospitality will win you over. Prices are lower than the more famous beach resorts, too. There is also a unique climate that allows you to swim from May right on through October, giving it a longer season.
Time stands still at ancient monuments like the incredibly well preserved Greek temples of Paestum and the Greco-Roman remains of Velia. Culinary delights await you in the form in fresh mozzarella di bufala, sweet white figs, tasty artichokes, and fresh fish caught daily in the crystal-clean waters. Here, beaches are mostly sandy and bigger than the tiny coves of the Amalfi Coast, and more easily accessible. The Cilento National Park also encompasses in the hills and mountains, where trails abound for hiking, biking and horse riding.
While it is less known, it's not remote. You can easily visit the other sights of Campania from your base in the Cilento - famous spots like Pompeii and Herculaneum, Naples, Salerno and the Royal Palace of Caserta are within reach for day trips. Ferries can take you to the Amalfi Coast or to Capri, and a day with boat rented from either the port of Agropoli or San Marco di Castellabate will give you a nice outing on the water. There's plenty to do, lots of great flavors to sample in the area's food and wines, and a warm welcome from the Cilentani will make you happy that you came to discover this lovely piece of southern Italy.
Palinuro is a beautiful coastal village in the southern part of the of the Cilento National Park.
The village of Teggiano is situated 2090 feet above sea-level, on an isolated eminence above the upper part of the valley of the Negro river (the ancient Tanager), in the Cilento National Park.
Acciaroli, awarded year after year the Blue Flag for its clean and crystalline sea, is situated in the coastal part of the Cilento National Park.
Agropoli is the gateway to the Cilento National Park, and is the largest and liveliest town in that area.
Marina di Camerota is a picturesque fishing town and beach resort in the heart of the Cilento National Park, between Capo Palinuro and Sapri.
Not far from the charming promontory of Punta Licosa (Castellabate), lies the uncontaminated beauty of Ogliastro Marina.
The lovely town of Padula is a placid place now but was once part of the most powerful feudal estates of the Kingdom of Naples.
On top of a small promontory among the sweet hills surrounding Salerno, in the heart of Sele Valley (Valle del Sele), lies the marvellous village of Valva: a charming medieval town that counts about 2000 souls, founded during the Roman age.
Calvanico is a pretty pastel-painted tranquil mountain hamlet, yet its just 18 kilometers from Salerno.
Casal Velino is an historic village above the Mediterranean Sea along the beautiful Cilento Coast.
Situated on a ridge of Mounts Alburni excavated by the course of two side streams, Corleto Monforte has uncertain origin.
Cuccaro Vetere is a humble hill town resting in the folds of the inland part of the Cilento National Park.
Giungano looks like a village out of time, to the traveler who leaves behind the sea of Paestum and the fertile plain of Sele.
The picturesque village of Ispani rests lazily on the crescent curve of coastline that demarks the Gulf of Policastro.
Pioppi is one of those rare seafront towns that retains its old character and peeling charm, without having become a gentrified resort.
The town of Castellabate is actual a collection of villages that includes the old historic city on the hill, along with other districts along the sea.
Santa Marina lies at the foot of Mount Tempone in a position that dominates the valley of Bussento and the central coast of the wide Gulf of Policastro, near the southern part of the Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park.
The town of Sanza is in the center of the vast territory of the Cilento National Park, in a beautiful setting.
Sicignano degli Alburni is a hilltop aerie crowned with a castle, set in the middle of the Cilento National Park.
Tortorella is a pretty village perched up the steep hillside from the Gulf of Policastro, in the Cilento National Park.
The little village of Valle dell’Angelo is high in the hills of the Cilento, in a tranquil spot surrounded by green forests and clean mountain air, with the Calore River in the valley below.
Ascea, small village of mediaeval origins where gush particular sulphureous chalybeate springs, lies on top of a hill that offers a stunning view of the coast and of the ruins of the ancient city of Velia.
The ancient Volcei - one of the most important archaeological sites in the province of Salerno, part of Cilento National Park and the splendid village of Buccino – was the chief town of the independent tribe known as Volceiani, Vulcientes or Volcentani, whose territory was bounded north by the Hirpini, west and south by Lucania and east by the territory of Venusia.
Cannalonga lies at the foot of Mount Gelbison, at 550 metres above the sea level, surrounded by the astonishing vegetation of Cilento National Park.
Marina di Casal Velino lies in the large plain of Alento, between the wide Gulf of Velia and the mounts Stella and Gelbison, rising behind it.
Case del Conte is a sleepy seaside hamlet in the Cilento National Park, placed at the point where the hills meet the Mediterranean Sea.
Castelcivita is a small medieval village, nestled at 600 meters (1940 feet) above the sea on the slopes of the Alburni mountains, in the Cilento National Park.
The Cilento Park city of Centola includes four other towns as part of Centola itself which are: Palinuro, San Severino di Centola, Foria and San Nicola di Centola.
The little town of Laureana Cilento is part of the Cilento National Park, overlooking the most fascinating tourist attractions of the Cilento coast, such as Agropoli, Castellabate and Paestum.
Ascea is a small village counting less than 6000 souls, located in the hearth of Cilento National Park, approximately 86 km (53 miles) south of Salerno.
Montano Antilia is an agricultural town of the lower Cilento, located at the foot of the South East buttress of Mount Gelbison, at about 100 Km from Salerno.
Orria is one of the oldest villages in the Cilento, situated on a rocky outcropping between two deep valleys.
Ottati is a marvellous town located halfway from Castelcivita and Corleto Monforte, along the extreme rocky feet of Mounts Alburni, 526 above the sea level.
Located at 480 meters above the sea level, Perdifumo enjoys some of the best views from uphill of the Cilento National Park.
Pertosa is a small agricultural village located at the foot of the Alburni mountains, by the river Tanagro.
A sober beauty characterizes the village of Pisciotta, set like a splendid jewel into the Cilento National Park.
Pollica is a delightful rural small centre, at the side of Mulino a Vento hill, on the wonderful Gulf of Palinuro, that slopes to the sea between Punta Licosa and the outlet of Alento river.
The marvellous convent of San Mango dates back to 994, when an Italo-Greek settlement founded the lovely homonym hamlet that extended itself along the Northern foot of Mount Stella.
San Mauro Cilento() is an ancient village in the heart of the Cilento National Park, with a population of approximately 1.
The village of Sassano, close to Teggiano and Sicignano degli Alburni, was born between the 10th and the 12th century.
The pretty town of Torchiara is located in the heart of the Cilento National park, a land full of beauty and historic traditions.
Vibonati occupies a gorgeous spot on the southern end of the Cilento Coast, just before Campania gives way to Basilicata.
Spreading out on a green hill overlooking the sea, timidly hidden by olive groves, is Lentiscosa.
While Paestum is actually the ancient Greek city where you'll find fabulous temples and ruins of that culture, it is also part of a modern city.
You will find the beautiful Polla on the northern side of the Cilento National Park on a gentle hill crossed by the river Tanagro, affluent of the bigger Sele, at an altitude of 460 metres.
Been there? Done that? Share your experience and tips!
Haven't visited yet? Have questions about Cilento National Park? Ask them here!