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One of Italy’s most untouched regions, Cilento is home to soaring mountains and dramatic coves, with an ancient Greek heritage that sets it apart from its neighbours. Much of the area is protected by the Cilento and Valle di Diano National Park – an area 4,000 times larger than Vatican City – which has helped keep its rural charm.
Despite its size, Cilento is home to just a dozen towns nestled between rocky peaks and coves. Many of the towns have medieval roots, resulting in some remarkable historic sites as well as the breathtaking sea views. Top of the list is Palinuro – a great seaside town with a Blue Flag beach. At the other end of the coast, the equally popular Agropoli is home to mighty castles and dazzling beaches. Nearby is Cilento’s most prestigious archaeological site, Paestum. Once one of Italy’s largest Ancient Greek cities, it now showcases three incredibly well-preserved temples.
The region’s cuisine is another great reason to visit. There’s a big seafood scene thanks to the spotless waters along the coast, and buffalo mozzarella is another local speciality. You’ll find it in all kinds of pizza and pasta served in Cilento’s restaurants, along with the region’s DOC wines.
Cilento is largely made up of breathtakingly rugged scenery – think national park forest and a coastline dotted with unspoilt beaches and hidden coves. Palinuro’s broad sweep is probably the best of the Blue Flag beaches found here. Its location puts you in prime position to reach the region’s famed Blue Grotto, where the sun’s rays refract in brilliant turquoise on the cavern’s interior walls. Further inland, the rolling countryside is criss-crossed with trails perfect for hikers. In terms of history, you’re not too far from Paestum, home to a collection of well-preserved Greek temples.
The closest airport to Cilento is Naples (NAP), which is approximately 3 hours from Cilento. Direct flights to Naples airport (NAP) are available from Birmingham, Bristol, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London Gatwick, London Luton, London Stansted, Manchester and Newcastle and take approximately 2 hours 45 minutes.
Cilento is a summer destination and most hotels are open between May and October. July and August can become quite crowded, especially on the coast so the best time to go to avoid this is June and September, although the weather stays relatively warm for the whole season.
The Mediterranean diet is actually said to have originated from Cilento, where bread, pasta, fresh vegetables, fruit, fish and olive oil are daily staples.
Those with a sweet tooth should try the region's white figs. Found throughout the area, they are best enjoyed fresh in season during the summer months, while in winter they are dried and stuffed with nuts such as almonds or coated in melted chocolate.