Guide to the Amalfi Coast and the Cilento

The pearls of Campania

Fascinating villages overlooking a splendid sea along the Amalfi coast and the charming seaside towns of the Cilento are part of what Campania has to offer.

There are few places in the world where the mountains and the sea meet at such close quarters, creating such breathtaking beauty as on the Amalfi Coast, one of the most beautiful coast on the Italian peninsula, stretching between Vietri sul Mare and Positano. This coast is dotted with curves and bends, with hidden bays and steep ledges – at its back the precipitous spurs of the Monti Lattari, the cliffs washed at by clear, emerald green water. Bold and striking, bright white villages hug the steep slopes, such as Ravello. This town with its pretty heart and elegant residences – has inspired many musicians and writers: Richard Wagner composed the second act of ‘Parsifal’ here in 1900, Graham Green wrote ‘The Third Man’ here and Pier Paolo Pasolini used the town as a backdrop for scenes in his film ‘Decamerone’. Even today, Ravello enchants modern travellers from around the world through its atmosphere as if suspended in time, in the terrazzo gardens of Villa Rufolo high above the sea or in the park of Villa Cimbrone with its spectacular view of the coast and the sea. Only a few miles away is Amalfi. This town, once one of the four maritime republics, is a labyrinth of narrow streets, small squares and covered walkways and the start of the panorama path through the ‘Valle delle Ferriere’ nature reserve, the valley of the ironworks. Not just for passionate walkers and hikers, this beautiful route takes visitors through shady forest areas and past rushing streams, waterfalls and deep canyons. Other gems on this coast are Atrani, Praiano and of course Positano, the enchanting town almost suspended between the sea and the sky.

The Cilento region has inspired poets and scholars for centuries. This land of myth and legend offers spectacular scenery, authentic, ancient villages and towns and endless expanses of olive groves. One of Cilento’s greatest attractions are its dreamy seaside resorts, some of which receive every year the Blue Flag and other awards also from Legambiente. Along its coast, from Agropoli to Sapri, the fishing village of Acciaroli with its old stone built houses and tiny alleys was a favourite of Hemingway, who came here in 1950s and found inspiration for his novel “The Old Man and the Sea”. Along with the other coastal towns Capo Palinuro is a real attraction with its rugged coastline riddled with sea caves and cliffs. Legend also holds that Palinuro was named after the helmsman of the Aeneid, who fell overboard close to the coast. Following the coast south from here one gets to the Golfo di Policastro, one of the most beautiful bays. This area offers clean beaches, pristine waters and typical, seaside resorts, such as Sapri, one of the most popular tourist resorts in Campania. Here history and charm blend perfectly with modern attractions.

Positano, loved by writers, painters, musicians and international jetset, is a very popular destination and one of the liveliest towns of the Amalfi Coast. It is a veritable jigsaw of flights of stairs, little terrazzos, squares and winding streets, with pastel-coloured houses grouped around them. Cascades of bougainvillea in all colours and shades drape across the buildings. The town is also known for its many workshops, manufacturing shoes and clothing. It is the origin of ‘Positano-style’ fashion, mainly working with cotton and linen. Among the villages of the Cilento, don’t miss Santa Maria di Castellabate, in the middle of the bay between Punta Tresino and Punta Licosa – that according to Greek mythology was named after the siren Leucosia, who tried to lure Odysseus and his crew ashore with her singing. At the heart of the historic centre of this charming coastal village is a sandy beach, surrounded by noble palaces and fishermen’s houses. Here young and old stroll along the seafront or the Corso Andrea Matarazzo, the main street where all the shops, pubs and cafés are.

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