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Destination Highlight: The Rugged and Timeless Cilento Coast

Heather Dowd
Posted by Heather Dowd on Jul 21, 2018 9:47:10 AM
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South of the hustle and bustle and glamour of the Amalfi Coast is an area well-known to Italians but still not on the radar for North Americans. The Cilento Coast is beautiful, rugged, authentic and unspoiled. Here of some of the reasons why I fell in love and why you should experience this area for yourself.

Cilento Coast

Santa Maria de Castellabate


The world-famous buffalo mozzarella is made in several regions and areas of southern Italy, including Campania (where Cilento is located), and the best comes from farms with the DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) label that certifies the cheese is made by local farmers using traditional methods and is made and packaged locally. The best of the best comes from farms where the buffalo are pampered: treated to music, massages, organic food and more. The Cilento area is known to produce some of the best DOP mozzarella in the world. You can visit a caseificio (cheese-making facility) where the buffaloes live and where the cheese is made.

Italian Food, Cilento, Buffalo Mozzarella, Bufallo Ricotta and Seasonal Veggies with Local Olive Oil         Buffalo Mozzarella, Bufallo Ricotta and Seasonal Veggies with Local Olive Oil

Mediterranean Diet

Unesco has recognized the Mediterranean Diet as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The people of Cilento are proud of their food heritage and of the fact that Ancel Keys, the US epidemiologist who identified the link between this diet and health, lived and studied here. The diet in Cilento is still based on the traditional aspects of the Mediterranean Diet: fresh, regional ingredients, fruits & vegetables, fish, extra virgin olive oil, cheese and wine. There is a museum to the Mediterranean Diet in the town of Pioppi.  


Blue and aquamarine, crystal clear water stretches all along the coast and can be enjoyed while on a bike ride or a hike. The beaches themselves are stunning; some are long and sandy and provide ample umbrellas and chairs for beachgoers; others are less accessible, hidden in coves below rocky cliffs. The sunsets are unforgettable.

Cycling in Italy, Cilento Coast, e-bike

E-bike riding with a view of the coast.

Rugged Nature

Much of the area composes the 2nd largest national park in Italy. Forests and planes, gorges and ravines, streams and waterfalls abound. Natural caves carved by water over millions of years can be explored. Hiking trails are old donkey paths.


The passage of time has been slower here than in other parts of Italy. Traditions, languages and landscapes have remained mostly unchanged. You won’t find the polished perfection of the ancient villages in Tuscany, and the hiking trails aren’t as manicured as in the Dolomites. What you will find are people proudly living their lives and keeping traditions alive. 


This archeological zone is a Unesco World Heritage Site. Originally called Poseidonia (in honor of the Greek God of the Sea), the city was founded in the 6th century BC by Greek settlers and then came under Roman control in 273 BC. Today visitors can see three of the best-preserved Greek temples in the world, as well as  old frescoes, ceramics and artifacts of daily life.




Located on a promontory, this town has amazing panoramic views of the Tyrrhenian Sea from its position 60 meters above. Agropoli is the gateway to Cilento National Park and is the largest and liveliest town in the area.

Agropoli, Cilento



This town has the best of both worlds: beautiful beach and historic hilltop town. The part on the hilltop is a Unesco World Heritage Site and is also one of the “Borghi Più Belli d’Italia," so is well preserved. Views from the top are breathtaking. The lower parts, Santa Maria and San Marco, are along the coast and have beautiful beaches.

Cilento Coast


Rocca Cilento

600 meters above sea level, a 1000-year-old Norman castle crowns the top of the small hamlet of Rocca Cilento, which is part of the town of Lustra just below. 

Rocca CIlento

Norman Castle above Rocca Cilento

Rocca Cilento is well-preserved and peaceful, and makes for a unique base to explore the area. The hamlet is known as an area of ospitalità diffusa, which is related to the idea of albergo diffuso that I blogged about a while back. A network of unique and unusual buildings have been restored and serve as lodging for visitors. The buildings do not make up part of the same hotel, but the owners work together to make bookings and handle arrangements. We stayed in a converted convent and our hosts, Paolo and Concetta, offered us some of the best food we’ve had in Italy (all local and organic).  They also took the time to tell us about the hiking and cycling options available from the village. They, like so many people from this area, are proud of their heritage and traditions, as well as the stunning natural beauty of their home.

Bells chime in Rocca Cilento, view from our stay in an albergo diffuso.

We can help you plan a cycling or hiking tour on the Cilento Coast. Get in touch to get the conversation started.

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Topics: Destinations, Food & Wine

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