One of the largest national parks in Italy, Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park is also one of the most diverse. From the forests of Pruno to the gorgeous, swimmer-friendly Cilentian Coast, this area boasts amazing landscapes, and when coupled with the fact that the passage through its mountains have served as a hugely important trade and battle route throughout Italian history, the area deserves to be at the top of any itinerary.
Most travelers will start in the city of Agropoli, whose old town is terraced into the cliffs above its bay, and travel up and down the coast. We don’t blame them, for this is the Italian coast at its best. Ascea is a small coastal town known for having both Greek and Roman ruins, while Acciaroli has spectacular blue-flag beaches. The crown jewel, though, may have to be Palinuro. Its coastline is best explored by boat, where there is tourist access to a number of grottos and exceptional views of the cape from land and sea that cannot be missed.
For those in love with well-preserved ruins, the excellent Paestum ruins are located near Capaccio and the Velia ruins are outside of the aforementioned Ascea. For the more adventurous traveler, head inland to Vallo di Diano, where you can take a day hike between towns in this epically panoramic vista of low lying mountains. Our favorite commune is Teggiano, where you can see an incredibly preserved old city atop a green plateau, mixing high cultural value with an off-the-beaten-path adventure.Lastly, there are a number of scuba diving outfits based along the coast, particularly around the cave-rich depths of the Cape of Palinuro. The Palinuro Sub Diving Center operates here; just be aware that with many of the submerged grottoes some technical diving experience will be necessary.
Location:Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park
Note:The whole area is accessible from Naples by road and consists of anywhere from a one or two hour drive.