The cilentan coast begins at Paestum and ends at Sapri, offering an enormous range of seaside activities: from large, wide and safe beaches on a clear sea, to a more sportive choice of grotto and cove exploration and the diving deep into the uncontaminated bottoms of the sea. All of this amidst hills and mountains with sheer cliffs to the sea, where enchanted villages are nestled. We are far from the madding crowds, we are where the world is still like it once was, a universe with rhythms that still follows the seasons.
The Cilento area is also famous for its tasty traditional cuisine, based on typical products used in recipes passed on from mother to daughter.
Paestum is located where Cilento begins. It is one of the most precious of the archeological gems of Italy, known the world over, especially for its spectacular Doric temples. In summer the Night trails amid the temples of Paestum permit the visitor to enjoy the archeological area by moonlight, a magical experience. Not far from the excavations is the Archeological Museum of Paestum, home to some of the most important works in the Southern Italy. The most important are the frescoes from the 5th century BC Tomb of the Diver. It is a painted box tomb , made up of four lateral slabs decorated with banquet scenes. The cover depicts a diving boy: the scene probably symbolises the passage from life to the world of dead.
With Agropoli one enters into the heart of a Cilento made of fishermen and fishing villages. Dominated by the castle, built in Byzantine times, Agropoli has a lovely medieval village that towers over the wild coast below.
Medieval traces are also found in Castellabate. The Village, intact and full of wonder, presents itself like a bundle of intertwining alleys, arches and steep stairs, framed by a vegetation rich with colour and aroma. From above youcan admire the characteristic red tiled rooftops of Santa Maria di Castellabate, a bathing and fishing village blessed with lovely beaches and situated between Punta Tresino and Punta Licosa. Acciaroli is a lovely old village with a marvellous beach. It is said that a local fisherman was the inspiration for Hemingway’s novel "The Old Man and the Sea".
The ruins of the ancient Greek city of Velia are another archeological gem: its fame is tied to the great philosophers Parmenide and Zeno, and to the celebrated School of Medicine, later inherited by Salerno. Elea, the ancient name of Velia, was founded in the 6th century BC by the Greeks from Focea, attracted to the beauty of the place, and soon became one of the most important maritime centres of the southern Tyrrenia area. The archaeological area extends to a promontory that was once bathed by the sea, then buried, and to the most important monument, the “Porta Rosa”, a magnificent structure that opens in the circumference of the ancient walls.
Leaving behind the glorious deeds of the Romans and Greeks, the coast continues dotted with long sandy beaches, bunches of houses and ancient villages: Ascea, medieval in origin, with its charming marina and Pisciotta, characterised by the houses wedged in green and it is renowned for its olive oil. In fact, the oil its splendid olive tree (with its silvery green leaves) produce, is one of the best of Italy, and has earned the denominational marking of Olio d’Oliva Extravergine Cilento Dop.
Palinuro, with its legendary promontory is the pearl of the Cilento coast. It is said that it owes its name to Aeneas’ unfortunate helmsman who, as Virgil recounts in the Aeneid, fell into the water here and perished. Palinuro is an internationally renown bathing resort for its beautiful beaches, cliffs formed by the sun and the wind, secret coves and mysterious grottoes.
And the secret of Palinuro lies in the marine grottoes to be discovered on boat trips: the Blue Grotto, whose waters assume the transparency of sapphires, the Silver and the Blood grottoes. Yellow and green are the dominant colours of the Fetente (stinking) cove, so named for the sulphuric spring that releases an unpleasant odor. The Baia del Buondormire (of the good sleep) with its crystalline waters is one of the most romantic beaches of the coast. The Natural Arch (Arco Naturale) is a moulded masterpiece of nature, with its long beach and nearby mouth of the river Mingardo.
Il vecchio abitato di San Severino è un borgo medievale abbandonato che sovrasta la valle del fiume Mingardo dove scava una stretta forra chiamata Gola del Diavolo. Risale al X-XI secolo e serba tracce delle varie epoche storiche fino al Novecento, conservando le rovine di un castello e di una chiesa. Man mano la popolazione cominciò a trasferirsi a valle per cui nel giro di una cinquantina d’anni il paese venne quasi del tutto abbandonato, anche se fino al 1977 la chiesa sul Borgo restò la chiesa del paese a valle e alcune case del borgo vecchio erano ancora abitate. Attualmente il vecchio Borgo è meta di un notevole flusso turistico ed alcune associazioni si occupano della sua tutela con la collaborazione del Comune di Centola. Da segnalare la suggestiva rappresentazione del “Presepe Vivente” che si svolge ogni anno e che coinvolge gran parte dei cittadini.