Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP is the ambassadress of a deeply fascinating land that deserves to be described. We have put together this travel itinerary for the discovery of the DOP towns and villages.
Here we are taking you to one of the most fascinating areas of the DOP Mozzarella’s area of origin, the Cilento in the province of Salerno, where nature, history and legends combine to give life to unique and extraordinary atmospheres.
The Cilento coast: 100 km of breath-taking views
The Cilento coast winds over one hundred kilometres, squeezed between the Apennines and the sea, where the clear blue sky of Campania is mirrored in the crystalline waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Those travelling to discover the coastal side of the Cilento will encounter surprising views: an alternation of inlets and caves, temples and houses perched on high. Places that belong to myths and marvels, that make anyone travelling through them fall in love.
Are you ready to go?
Pack your bags well
Are you sporty or more for relaxing on a beach? Are you looking for carefree night life or do you prefer losing yourself in the monumental beauty that history has left as its heritage in our land?
The opportunities offered by the Cilento are truly many and, regardless of what kind of holiday you’ll choose, remember to pack:
- a pair of comfortable shoes
- a couple of swim suits
- sun cream, because the sun is very fierce
- a couple of smart outfits for a candle-lit dinner by the sea
- a light jumper because, at times there can be a cool sea breeze.
The history of the Cilento is lost in the mists of time and goes back to the Palaeolithic era. Over the centuries, many peoples have crossed through these lands: Lucanians, Greeks, Romans, Lombards, Normans, Arabs, Saracens, Spaniards, French and Austrians. Each left its own mark, creating a polyhedric and fascinating culture; a harmonious mosaic that established the Cilento’s traditions. Traces, memories, monuments and paths from the ancient past and the future find their home in the Cilento National Park. And it is precisely from this place of living nature that our journey down the Cilento begins.
Cilento National Park
The Cilento National Park is one of this land’s treasures: 181,048 hectares of breath-taking scenery, perfect for all lovers of nature trips and long walks. Whether you’re a fan of either the mountains or the sea, the Cilento National Park has something for everyone.
A Humanity Heritage and UNESCO geo-park since 1998, the park protects innumerable both animal and plant species, including 254 of the 319 known species of wild orchids.
N.B. You will need comfortable shoes, a water bottle and a hat for this trip.
Leaving behind the Cilento National Park, still full of wonder and awe, we set out towards the next stage of the journey through the DOP towns and villages on the Cilento coast: ancient Paestum.
A Greek colony founded in the 7th Century BC, but conquered by the Romans in 273 (its original name was effectively Posidonia, in honour of the god of the sea, Poseidon), Paestum today is one of the best-preserved archaeological areas in the world.
The area of the archaeological site that can be visited corresponds to the heart of the ancient city and includes: two sanctuaries, the Greek agorà [public meeting place], the Roman forum with its temples, tabernae (where people drank together), the basilica, an indoor market (macellum), the Greek ekklesiasterion [popular assembly place] and the Roman comitium [open-air public meeting place] – the last two were where part of the political life of these ancient populations took place.
It is a unique experience to walk through the streets of Paestum. With every step, between one glimpsed view and another, all the history that this place contains is revealed – the deep roots of the Cilento - human changes, gestures lost in time, the sacred impressiveness of the ancient ruins. And then, moving along the state road outside, you can stop off at one of the many cheese dairies in the area, the road of buffalo mozzarella, to stock up on your white gold.
A sea of blue flags
After your archaeological outing in Paestum, you may want to cool off with a dip in the sea. The next stop is Agropoli (and the sea is there…and what a sea!).
But, before we get there, why not stop off on one of the blue flag Cilento beaches, some of the most beautiful in Italy?
Here are just some of them:
- Ascea: Piana di Velia, Torre del Telegrafo, Marina di Ascea;
- Capaccio: Licinella, Varolato/La Laura/Casina D’Amato, Foce Acqua dei Ranci;
- Camerota: Cala Finocchiara and San Domenico;
- Casal Velino: Lungomare/Isola, Dominella/Torre;
- Castellabate: Lago Tresino, Marina Piccola, Cala Pozzillo/San Marco, Punta Inferno, Ogliastro;
- Centola: Marinella, Palinuro (Porto/Dune e Saline);
- Montecorice: Baia Arena, Capitello, Agnone, San Nicola;
- Pisciotta: Ficaiola, Torraca/Gabella, Fosso della Marina, Petracciaio, Marina Acquabianca;
- Pollica: Acciaroli, Pioppi;
- Positano: Spiaggia Grande, Arienzo, Fornillo;
- San Mauro Cilento: Mezzatorre;
- Sapri: San Giorgio, Cammarelle;
- Vibonati: Villammare, Santa Maria Le Piane, Oliveto.
The city of Agropoli and the Bay of Trentova
Agropoli is one of the most famous cities in the Cilento – famous for its blue sea and the beauty of its monuments. In the heart of Agropoli lies a characteristic medieval town that includes the Angioino Aragonese Castle, sitting high up on a rock and facing the sea.
The panoramic view is unique: with a clear sky you can even see Capri and Punta Campanella.
Not to be missed are also:
- the Church of the Madonna di Costantinopoli, from the first Baroque period
- the medieval Church of SS. Pietro e Paolo
- the Tower of S. Marco.
In the summer, we suggest you take a dip in the magnificent sea of Baia Trentova. This tiny enchanted bay gets its name, according to legend, from a discovery made in ancient times when around 30 gull and sea turtle eggs were found in the caves below the azure, almost white rock that characterises the bay.
The Nature reserve of Castellabate: Santa Maria and Punta Licosa
Continuing our DOP journey towards the south of the Cilento coast, we arrive at Castellabate, an enchanting village that has earned the title of “the pearl of the Cilento”.
The little village, sitting high amongst the uplands of the Cilento National Park at 300 metres above sea level, is a network of typically medieval little streets and alleyways that rise upwards and look out over the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Santa Maria is a district of Castellabate that extends along the coast and gives its name to the village’s Nature Reserve: the bays, the natural inlets, the groups of cliffs and the golden beaches that you will find in this area are miniature versions of paradise. Here you can find everything you need for a perfect day out: crystal clear sea, wonderful ice-creams and places to go for a bit of nightlife.
However, if you want a more solitary experience and to enjoy the spectacle of nature, we advise going to Punta Licosa, part of the Nature Reserve and one of the most mystical places in the Cilento, surrounded by legends.
According to ancient sources, Punta Licosa takes its name from Leucosia, one of the sirens who tried to seduce and devour Odysseus during his journey back to Ithaca. It seems that the three sirens (Leucosia, Ligea and Partenope), took their own lives by throwing themselves off a very high cliff once Odysseus had escaped their sweet and fatal songs by tying himself to the mast of his ship. The flowing and ebbing of the sea took their bodies to different places. Leucosia’s emerged from the waters of the gulf of Poseidonia close to the strip of land that then took the name of Punta Licosa.
At Punta Licosa you can live fully in tune with nature: when you emerge from the clear waters that surround it, you will feel as if you’re in paradise and you’ll hear the sweet songs of the sirens (but have no fear, there’s no risk of a shipwreck, take it from the Consorzio!).
Ascea: archaeology and splendid bays
One of the most popular destinations for summer tourism, Ascea is the perfect base for a tour of the Cilento, thanks to its central position with respect to the coast.
Once arrived at Ascea, we advise an archaeological trip to Velia, originally a Greek colony (Elea). The archaeological site was famous in ancient times as it was the cradle of the Eleatic school of philosophy. While admiring the remains of the city gates (Porta Rosa and Porta Marina), the thermal baths building, the acropolis, the agorà and the imposing sanctuary of Poseidon Asphaleios, it is possible to imagine the splendour of this city’s past existence.
Not far from Ascea lies a beautiful beach: Baia d’Argento, which can be reached by boat. Baia d’Argento is made of large pebbles with a seabed worthy of the Caribbean.
Palinuro and Marina di Pisciotta
A bit further down than Ascea, there are two other must-sees in the Cilento: Palinuro and the Marina di Pisciotta beach, a free beach characterised by smooth pebbles and perfect for a delightful afternoon at the sea.
It’s easy to go from Marina di Pisciotta to Capo Palinuro, a place that exudes history and safeguards its ancient stories. In effect, its name is linked to a character from the Aeneid, the mythical Palinurus, the trusted helmsman of Aeneas’s fleet, who fell hopelessly in love with a young girl, Kamaratòn, whose name is the origin of the adjacent town of Camerota. The Greek hero followed the image of his loved one to the bottom of the sea below the Cape cliffs and, since then, it took his name.
Capo Palinuro is famous for its natural caves which include the Grotta Azzurra, so-called due to the intense turquoise blue of its sea and the Grotta dei Monaci, both of which can be reached by sea in the boats that leave continuously from the tiny port of Palinuro.
Costa degli Infreschi and of Masseta
We’ll now head along the Costa degli Infreschi, a stretch of marvels that goes from Torre dello Zancale to Scario in the Gulf of Policasto.
The Costa degli Infreschi is a concentrate of all things Mediterranean: olive groves, vineyards, green-blue sea and wild vegetation. It is a fascinating work of nature: small, dispersed beaches alternate with medieval towers along the coast that was formed by the limestone extensions from Monte Bulgheria. Here, nature has unleashed all its creativity, generating karstic phenomena that design surprising architectures, sea caves and underwater water springs (from which come the name “Infreschi”).
Rocky ravines alternate with inlets and coves such as the Grotta degli innamorati, the Grotta Sepolcrale, the Grotta del Noglio or the Cacata del Marchese, that emerge from the clear blue waters between Cala della Fortuna and Cala Monte di Luna. According to popular tradition, it was precisely here, and nowhere else, that one of the Marquises of Camerota managed to never suffer from constipation….
Setting off from the straight and slender Torre dello Zancale, close to Marina di Camerota, and we get to Scario. The last part of our journey along the Cilento coast corresponds to the first part of the magnificent Gulf of Policastro, which then continues its way, crossing Basilicata and arriving up to the upper tip of Calabria. We don’t want to spoil the surprise so we’ll leave you to enjoy it yourselves. Let us know what you think of Cala Bianca, Cala Longa, the little beaches of Masseta or the “Salon of the Mediterranean”.
Why wait to pack your bags? The scenery you’ll find on this journey will force you to snap pictures left and right all along the way.