A TRIP IN CI­LENTO

Golden beaches, cliffs and ar­chae­o­log­i­cal sites over­look­ing the sea

Where Naples Coast & Islands - - CONTENTS -

Amidst golden beaches, evoca­tive grot­toes and ar­chae­o­log­i­cal sites over­look­ing the sea

An area rich in his­tory and artis­tic and nat­u­ral beau­ties, Ci­lento’s coast, much of which is still un­tamed, not only boasts golden beaches, coves and cliffs that, each year, are awarded ‘Blue Flag’ sta­tus by FEE, but also pic­turesque towns set amidst hills and moun­tains. Paes­tum and Velia, an­cient colonies of Magna Gre­cia, lo­cated just steps from the sea, are well worth a visit. In Paes­tum, one of the most fa­mous ar­chae­o­log­i­cal sites in the world, rec­og­nized by Unesco as a World Her­itage Site, land­mark at­trac­tions of note in­clude the mag­nif­i­cent Tem­ples of Ceres and Nep­tune. While in the area, a visit to the Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Mu­seum, hous­ing paint­ings of the Tomb of the Diver, among the few ex­am­ples of clas­sic paint­ing that have been handed down to us in­tact, is an ab­so­lute must. One of the most charm­ing sea­side places in Ci­lento is Punta Li­cosa: ac­cord­ing to leg­end the is­land of Li­cosa is noth­ing but the shape as­sumed by the body of the siren Leu­cosia, who com­mit­ted sui­cide by throw­ing her­self into the sea after fail­ing to en­tice Ulysses to the rocks. Un­con­tam­i­nated pine forests and crys­talline wa­ters framed by wild, scenic coves make it a small par­adise for na­ture lovers and snorkel­ers. Re­cently de­creed a pro­tected ma­rine area, most of the area of Punta Li­cosa is pri­vately-owned, mean­ing that it is not fully ac­ces­si­ble to the pub­lic. Perched on the top of a hill, Castella­bate is one of Italy’s most beau­ti­ful me­dieval towns. Its his­toric cen­tre, de­clared a World Her­itage Site by Unesco, con­sists of a labyrinth of small streets, stair­ways, 18th cen­tury Pa­tri­cian houses, chapels and breath­tak­ing fa­cades in­clud­ing that of the Belvedere of San Costa­bile. Ac­cia­roli is a pic­turesque fish­ing vil­lage that has now be­come a sought-after sea­side re­sort. Ac­cord­ing to hearsay, Ernest Hem­ing­way was so struck by its beauty that he drew in­spi­ra­tion from it for his novel en­ti­tled ‘The Old Man and the Sea’. Lo­cated just a short dis­tance from Ac­cia­roli is Pioppi, a charm­ing town known as the cra­dle of the fa­mous Mediter­ran­nean diet, to which a mu­seum is ded­i­cated. Both Ac­cia­roli and Pol­lica are the two sea­side towns of the com­mune of Pol­lica, ideal spots for those in search of an oa­sis of peace and breath­tak­ing nat­u­ral scenery A land of an­cient myths and un­par­al­leled beauty,

Pal­in­uro is renowned for its ex­tra­or­di­nary land­scapes and crys­tal-clear wa­ters. Ac­cord­ing to leg­end, its name de­rives from Ae­neas’ un­for­tu­nate helms­man who fell over­board, only to be killed by the is­land’s in­hab­i­tants on reach­ing the shore. Nu­mer­ous grot­toes are scat­tered along its jagged, rocky coast­line. The best-known and most widely vis­ited is the Blue Grotto, so-called due to the un­usual plays of light cre­ated by the rays of the sun that fil­ter through it, giv­ing the wa­ter a deep, rich blue colour. No less evoca­tive are the Sil­ver Grotto, the Monks’ Grotto, where sta­lac­tites re­sem­bles monks at prayer and the Bone Grotto whose walls are em­bed­ded with the bones of hu­mans and an­i­mals dat­ing back to the Qu­a­ter­nary pe­riod. Make sure to visit the beach of the Arco Nat­u­rale. Most of the area sur­round­ing Ci­lento is a part of the Ci­lento and Vallo di Diano Na­tional Park. The Park, which ex­tends over an area of ap­prox­i­mately 180,000 hectares, is the sec­ond largest na­tional park in Italy. A Unesco World Her­itage Site and a MaB (man and Bio­sphere) re­serve, it is char­ac­ter­ized by a wealth of lush vege­ta­tion and the bio-di­ver­sity of its species. Un­con­tam­i­nated coast­lines, rocky out­crops, paths, wa­ter­ways and mys­te­ri­ous grot­toes com­bine to fur­ther en­hance the ap­peal of this area. The Cer­tosa of Padula, spread over an area of more than 50,000 square me­tres, is the largest monas­tic mon­u­ment in South­ern Italy. Its high al­tar, fea­tur­ing mother-of-pearl in­tar­sia and one of the largest clois­ters in Europe, is par­tic­u­larly note­wor­thy.

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