In Roman times the area of Amalfi was known as Campania Felix or ‘happy land’ - this was understandable with its beautiful countryside, Roman cities, small islands and stretches of spectacular coast.The Amalfi and Sorrento coast is today very well known, but Campania’s real secret is located South of Salerno and immediately south of the wonderful Greek temples of Paestum. Here the coastline bulges out into an expanse of mountainous landmass known as Cilento, now a National Park with World Heritage listing. The Cilento coast is a fairly rocky territory, with the shoreline lapped by a crystal sea. There is a wild kind of beauty here; rocky ridges set between small picturesque inlets and richly scented pinewoods backing onto wide sandy beaches. Aleppo pines loom over multi-coloured undergrowth of myrtle and prickly pear; whilst huge, centuries old, olive trees grow right down to the shore and there are several quaint fishing villages. Inland the Cilento is largely undisturbed by the 21st century and you will enjoy visiting mediaeval mountain villages, where the traditional way of life is still evident. This tour is both along the coast and inland across low mountains, through pristine natural areas and attractive countryside, with all its cultural treasures like rural chapels, ancient farm houses, old water mills and charming medieval villages. During the tour you visit old medieval ‘borghi’ (fortified hilltop villages), such as Rocca Cilento, and some of the nicest fishing villages, like San Marco di Castellabate and Acciaroli. The tour is ideally taken as an extension from our Amalfi Coast walks, but you can also do it as a short break.
Paestum can be easily accessed by train from Salerno taking around 40 mins, which means that it is handy coming from the Amalfi Coast or travelling from Naples. We strongly suggest you visit the archaeological site with its World famous Greek temples (UNESCO World Heritage), as well as the museum, which preserves the unique Diver’s Tomb, a prime example of Greek funerary painting. You will need at least two hours to do it justice, the site with museum is huge and closes around one hour before sunset, so opening and closing times are dependent on the time of year.
Accommodation: Stay one night in an attractive small hotel in the countryside just outside the walls of Paestum, on a property of two hectares. It's an ideal, tranquil setting. The hotel has its own restaurant and for those who love the sun and swimming, their pool is situated in an oasis of trees and lawn area with an outdoor bar, tables, umbrellas and deck-chairs. The hotel is also 900 metres from the beach and just 1.5km from the railway station.
You will be transferred to Paestum train station to take the train to Agropoli. Today you start your walk from the train station at Agropoli. First you walk to the charming harbour with its wonderful view towards the fortified medieval town centre. You then continue to Trentova Bay from where you commence a beautiful walk along and around the headland of Punta Tresino, one of the last remaining stretches of pristine coast in this area. The coastal route passes along an inlet called ‘Vallone,’ an ancient Roman harbour. This is not far from the ruins of the tower of Punta Tresino, and near some beautiful vineyards dropping sheer to the sea. Punta Tresino is a headland with a real Mediterranean flavour and great views over the Gulf of Salerno as far as Capri. The area is also famous for its high quality wines. You walk through an unspoilt Mediterranean landscape, through forests and scrubland, beside beaches with beautiful views over the sea. Eventually you descend to the large sandy beach of Castellabate. It's worth continuing the walk along the beach until you reach the charming little fishing harbour of Santa Maria maybe for a swim and a nice gelato on the beach. You will be collected from here and taken to Rocca Cilento and your next hotel.
Accommodation: For the next three nights in Rocca Cilento you will stay in an ancient convent. The nuns may have disappeared years ago, but the place is hardly lacking in charm. Many of the peaceful rooms have panoramic views out over the countryside. The place is centred around the dining room and lounge, a great big stone chamber. Paulo, his wife and friends provide the most sumptuous banquets for you sourced from local ingredients. The wines and cheeses are all locally sourced including Parmesans and Mozerellas. Pasta is homemade, the wines tend to be from the very amenable and quite unusual Aglianico Grape. They also love to use a lot of local olive oil. Paulo speaks very little English, although his stepson Cosimo may be there to help.
Today’s circular walk from your accommodation in Rocca Cilento takes you through some of the most interesting villages in the area and into the so-called ‘Valle dei Mulini’ (Valley of the Mills, named after the many medieval watermills in this valley). Part of the path runs along the old mule track that used to connect this valley to the Greek cities of Paestum and Velia. Walk to the tiny little village of Lustra, then start to descend into the Valley of the Mills along a restored but rough footpath. Here there are remains of around 17 mills, although you won’t notice that many.These are spread along the course of the stream which, though being short, had enough water to supply all these mills before flowing into the Fiumara River, which you will cross further on. Then you will climb up to the charming little hamlet of Valle Cilento, with its beautiful bell tower. The path then descends into the valley again, fords the stream and ascends steeply to the intriguing abandoned village of Massacanina. Another short but steep climb leads you onto the ridge and past the monastery of Mercato Cilento. From here a quiet panoramic road will lead you back to Rocca Cilento, dominated by its fine castle, from where views over the area are unrivalled. In the evening, you may take some time to relax on your panoramic terrace before your dinner based on local specialties.
This is a beautiful panoramic walk along the Monte Stella ridge, the geographical and cultural centre of this part of the Cilento. The 'Alta Via' ('High Way') is the main mountain path of the area: it follows the whole ridge of the mountain, passing through chestnut woods to the historical site of Castelluccio: an abandoned fortress, probably dating back to the pre-Roman period and past the Chapel of Monte Stella. If it is clear the walk offers you superb views of the Amalfi Coast and Capri as far as the peninsular of Palinuro and sometimes even Sicily and the inland areas of Alburni and Monte Cervati.
The long descent towards the coast will bring you through several beautiful historical villages. The first one is the tiny medieval village of Galdo, overlooking the valley. Then comes Celso, Pollica and Cannicchio with their charming medieval centres, all beautifully located on the hills. At the end of the walk you reach Acciaroli, a characteristic fishing village, where Ernest Hemingway once spent a holiday. You will be collected and taken back to your accommodation.
After breakfast, transfer from Rocca Cilento to Agropoli Train Station for your onward travel.
Per Person, Twin Share