Hidden Italy: Cilento

At Citalia we have over 90 years’ experience and during this time, we have discovered a number of Italian hidden gems that not many people know about. We have travelled the country top to bottom, bottom to top, and everything in between to bring you our extensive knowledge and secret treasures. 

Without further ado, introducing the first in our Hidden Italy series, Citalia’s Choice for September…CILENTO!  

One of Italy’s best kept secrets, Cilento is located on the west coast and is not too far from Naples. A more remote part of the Campania region and off the tourist radar, it really is a hidden gem. Here are some of our favourite things about Cilento for you to enjoy on your next Italian adventure. 

Valley of the Orchids

The splendid Valle delle Orchidee, translated to Valley of the Orchids, is not to be missed. Hidden in Sassano, a pretty village in the Cilento National Park, it’s home to over 100 varieties of orchids which tend to start blooming in April. The Orchid Festival takes place every May in Sassano when it is filled with colours. Follow the red and white striped path starting at the fountain and admire your stunning surroundings as you wind your way through the orchids. 
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Cheers to Cilento Cuisine

The Mediterranean Diet, declared by UNESCO as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage, was born in Cilento. American scientist Ancel Keys wanted to pursue studies into the longevity of people who consume a Mediterranean diet and so based himself in Cilento and lived there for 40 years. It’s a land that looks after its traditions, natural setting and is famous for the many centenarians who live there. The Mediterranean diet consists of pasta, breads, olives, olive oil, tomatoes and vegetables primarily and this is exactly what you will find here. Be sure to try out some local dishes in the trattorias, you will not be disappointed!  
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Giffoni Film Festival

Every October, Cilento hosts the largest children’s film festival in Europe. Founded in 1971, it aims to promote and develop movies for both children and young people. Children and teenagers between the ages of 3 and 18 form the jury and give their opinions on different movies by discussing with directors, writers and actors from all over the world before deciding on a winner. Some famous faces have made an appearance at the festival over the years including Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, Danny de Vito and Jennifer Aniston. 

Archaeological Sites

A trip to Paestum will allow you to explore the stunning Greek temples by taking a step back in time. You will simply be amazed at how well preserved these are. Paestum is named after Poseidon, the God of Water, and is a great place to start learning about the interesting mythology of Ancient Greece.  

Another fantastic site is Velia which was originally founded around 538-535 BC by the Greeks. The site preserves the remains of the Elea colony. The walls around the site stretch for around 3 miles and there is plenty to discover here. A walk to the top of the hill rewards you with a medieval tower and the gate to the city known as Rose Gate
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Glorious Grottos

There are countless grottos to be found along the Cilento coast. Near to the peaceful resort of Palinuro you will find Cilento’s Blue Grotto. A wonderful karst cave, it has a magical secret which is only visible from within. Due to the way the sunlight reflects off the turquoise waters, visitors are treated to a light show when the inside of the cave is filled with blue illuminations. This spectacle is a must see!  

San Marco & Santa Maria di Castellabate

Off the beaten track, Santa Maria di Castellabate and San Marco di Castellabate are wonderful towns that ooze authenticity. Away from the crowds you can wander through the winding streets taking in your surroundings and discovering the local way of life. Just half an hour away you will find the Polito Vineyard which has been owned by the Polito family for three generations and has been supplying wine throughout Campania for years.
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Where can I stay in Cilento?

We have some excellent hotels available for your next adventure to Cilento. 

Hotel Saline
  • A good family friendly hotel located near the centre of Palinuro
  • Art Deco style building with panoramic views of the bay
Hotel Sonia
  • A traditional, family-run hotel in the centre of Santa Maria di Castellabate
  • Beachfront location close to the picturesque harbour

Discover the real Italy with Citalia

Captivated by Cilento? Well, here is our commitment to you. With 95 years’ experience we pride ourselves on ensuring you Travel with Confidence. Our Italy Experts are on hand to help you plan your next enchanting escape. Discover the real Italy with Citalia, your next adventure is just a call away…  

Suggested Destinations & Trips

Call us today to speak to one of our Italy Experts for further travel advice, hotel recommendations or to begin planning your next Italian holiday.
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