Holidays in Cilento will introduce you to one of Italy’s best kept secrets. Located on the west coast, Cilento is one of the more remote parts of the Campania region, but is only around an hour’s drive from Naples.
At the heart of the region is the vast Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park, which is one of the biggest national parks in Italy.
Cilento, unlike some of its flashier neighbours, is unpretentious but that’s its attraction. Literary greats such as Shelley, Goethe and Hemmingway all found inspiration here. If you’re a couple looking for a sunshine holiday with a simple relaxed atmosphere in a region of outstanding beauty with mountains and beaches, sheltered coves and pastel harbours, then look no further than Cilento.
Enjoy an Italian family adventure in Cilento, with plenty of activities to be enjoyed for all ages. During the month of October each year, Cilento hosts Europe's largest film festival for children, Giffoni Film Festival.
In a tousled landscape awash with colour, Cilento’s quieter roads lead to Greek temples, Saracen towers and historic villages. Families can enjoy delving into ancient worlds at Museo Archeologico Virtuale, which takes you on an interactive, virtual journey back through time to discover the ancient Roman city of nearby Herculaneum.
If you prefer an outdoor family adventure then there are a number of excellent walking trails to explore on your Cilento holidays, some within the national park. The enticingly named Via dell'Amore (Path of the Lovers) starts at Ascea’s beach and climbs to the Torre del Telegrafo (watchtower), where you can enjoy a fantastic view over Cape Palinuro.
Padula’s impressive 14th century Carthusian monastery, Certosa di San Lorenzo, is a UNESCO World Heritage site with over 350 rooms. To make the most of your visit take a local guided tour. It’s one of Europe’s largest Carthusian monasteries, also known as charterhouses.
In complete contrast to the magnificent Certosa is the equally splendid Valle delle Orchidee (Valley of the Orchids) in Sassano, a pretty little village in the national park. With over 100 varieties of orchids, which generally begin to bloom in April, the area is awash with colour. In addition to the orchids, Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park as a whole is home to around 1,800 species of native plants.
Every year in May Sassano holds the Festival of the Wild Orchid, with guided walks, food tastings, and other cultural activities on offer.
An elderly Cinquecento never looks out of place in Cilento, and that’s because the local people live to remarkable ages, which scientists believe is down to the healthy Mediterranean diet. Naturally, with mouthwatering fresh ingredients and time-honoured recipes always available, you’ll want to tuck into the local food and test this theory for yourself.
You’ll find the welcome is warm, the trattorias serve the best of local cuisine, life is unhurried and there’s time for reflection. You can also unearth the wisdom of ancient medicine at a wonderfully interactive museum, Scuola Medica Salernitana Museo Virtuale, located in Salerno.
11 day suggested trip
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.
At the current time, British citizens do not require a visa to visit Italy.
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