Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park, the Heart of Three Ancient Civilizations

The Cilento, where the Greeks of Magna Graecia met the Etruscans and Lucanians

By Amalfi Coasting

This is the second-largest national park in Italy and includes mountains with thick woods of chestnuts and evergreens, rolling hills covered in olive trees, river valleys sloping down to the Tyrrhenian Sea and beautiful uncontaminated beaches.

The earliest human presence in the region dates back over 250,000 years, when Homo erectus was living in caves along the coast.

During the Bronze and Iron Ages small groups of warriors and traders moved into the region.

By the end of the 2nd millennium B.C., trade with Mycenae, Greece, had become substantial, and many of the sophisticated cultural and technological elements of late Bronze Age Greece were introduced here.

With the collapse of Mycenae, this trade with the Eastern Mediterranean declined greatly to be replaced by active trade within the peninsula itself, as Cilento was also an important boundary zone with the Etruscan cultures of central Italy.

Greek colonization began in the late 7th century B.C., with coastal trading settlements being established at Agropoli and Poseidonia (which was renamed Paestum in Roman times) in the northern part of Cilento. Elea (Velia) was founded in 540 B.C. and became one of the most influential centers of learning in the ancient world.

At the end of the 5th century B.C., the Lucanians of the interior defeated the league of Greek coastal cities.

Two centuries later, the region was incorporated into the territories of Rome.

With the collapse of the western Roman Empire, when its roads and bridges fell into disrepair, the earlier, much more primitive network of communication and settlements came into its own again. During the Middle Ages feudal castles and religious foundations were also established.

The park splendid landscape is interspersed with villages clinging to its high, rough rocks, or larger towns that seem to cruise leisurely along its coasts.

The ark has approximately 1,800 different plant species, with a fauna just as diverse, given the variety of environments spanning the territory.

Among the animals that populate the park there are golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), rock partridges (Alectoris graeca), Corsican hares (Lepus corsicanus) and even wolves.

The park’s foremost cultural attractions are the ancient towns of Paestum, Velia and the Certosa of Padula.

The Campania Region is a great tourist destination, with its history, its art and its unique character. If you decide to visit its many cultural sites, we suggest you also plan to relax in the nearby paradise of the Amalfi Coast.  Positano, Amalfi and Ravello, are its most well-known towns, but at the heart of the Costiera is a fourth jewel, Praiano, a much less hectic and more authentic town, where many discerning tourists have begun to stay, using it as base for their Amalfi Coasting. Try Praiano, trust us!

The Certosa di Padula, a Monastery in Baroque Style

Dedicated to Saint Lawrence and located in Cilento National Park, it is the largest charterhouse in Italy

The amazing but mostly unknown Coliseum of Santa Maria Capua Venere

Few people know that this is the second largest Roman amphitheater after Rome's Coliseum

The Royal Palace of the Bourbon Kings

This monumental mid-18th century Royal complex was designed by architect Luigi Vanvitelli to rival Versailles

Ancient Cuma Was the First Greek Colony in Italy

It was here that the Sibyl gave the prophecy to Aeneas, the Trojan hero, son of the prince Anchises and ancestor of Romulus and Remus.

Our Insider Guide to the Small Islands Situated in Front of Naples and Above Capri

The beautiful islands of Nisida, Ischia and Procida

Our Insider Guide to Naples - Part 1

Even with all its difficulties and contradictions Naples remains an extraordinary place to visit