Cilento: Campania’s Undiscovered Gem

In the December 2008/January 2009 issue of Dream of Italy, writer Duncan Campbell unveils the long history and natural beauty of a little-known part of Campania. Here’s an excerpt:

The southern Italian region of Campania is justifiably known for its premier attractions, most notably Pompeii, Capri and the Amalfi Coast. But go a little further south– just 70 miles from its capital, Naples – into the region and you’ll find a veritable gem, virtually unknown to the throngs that are drawn to its more renowned destinations.

Cilento is a land of myth and legend, folklore and history … moonscapes and misty, forest-clad mountains that plunge down to the sea … long stretches of golden-sand beaches interspersed with cave-pockmarked cliffs and hidden coves … hilltop villages with narrow, cobbled alleys, family-run restaurants still using nonna’s recipes and cafés that play daily host to the clutch of old men whiling their days away in cards and conversation …

The National Park of Cilento and Vallo di Diano, covering 700 square miles, is Italy’s second-largest national park and also one of its youngest, having been established just 17 years ago. And whether you’re a hiker or a beach bum, a gastronome or an historian, you’ll find a world of discoveries in a landscape that’s as varied as anywhere in Italy.

With over 60 miles of coastline stretching north from about 20 miles above Maratea in Basilicata, the cobalt and turquoise waters of Cilento’s beaches consistently earn the coveted Blue Flag awarded annually by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE). Notwithstanding the influx of mainly Italians during July and August, its beaches are rarely overcrowded, and its moderate temperatures allow you to swim comfortably from April to November.

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P.S. – If you’re looking to rent a villa or apartment in the Cilento, our friends at Summer in Italy can help!