Cilento: Italy’s Best-Kept Secret?


Travel expert Adam Williams visited the Neapolitan Riviera earlier in the summer – but instead of heading to Naples, Sorrento or the Amalfi Coast, he carried on down the coast and discovered the little-known region of Cilento. Here’s what he thought…

Cilento may not spring to mind as your first choice when deciding where to go to in Italy. In fact, most people haven’t even heard of it. One of the many reasons Cilento should be on your radar is perhaps for that very reason. The fact that this destination has been kept largely unspoilt is what makes it so desirable.

Cilento Wooded Coastline, Italy

The 140 kilometres of beaches, hidden coves and cliffs make for a perfect seaside retreat, and the fact that the coastline offers one of the cleanest stretches of sea along the whole Italian peninsula makes it ideal for swimmers. The traditional coastal summer resort of Santa Maria di Castellabate is a good place to base yourself, and offers a selection of fantastic hotels. There’s a long sandy beach backed by a promenade, and some lovely piazzas where you can sit out and watch the day go by.

Santa Maria di Castellebate Beach & Hotels, Cilento

Further inland, you will discover a vast and stunning landscape of rolling green hills and small villages which still appear preserved in a time from long ago. There is a large area of natural heritage worth exploring – what I enjoyed most about Cilento was traversing the awe-inspiring network of tunnels, viaducts and bridges that guide you round the rivers and mountains which shape the land.

Paddle Boats on the Beach in Cilento, Italy

Driving here is highly recommended and is the best way to get around. The roads are mostly smooth and generally very quiet, and I think they make for some of the most enjoyable drives in Italy (particularly the stretch from Palinuro to Santa Maria). Cilento is also well positioned for you to get to some of the more well-known and famous parts of the Neapolitan Riviera, such as Sorrento, Naples and the Amalfi Coast.

Cilento, Italy

For the ultimate trip, spend three nights in Sorrento, before relaxing in Cilento for a week. Don’t forget to take a quick tour of the Amalfi Coast as you get from one to the other. This is yet another unmissable area of this part of Italy!

Photos: Paul Barker Hemings, via Flickr

Tempted? Take a look at our holidays to Cilento