The Province of Salerno is a combination of unique emotions. It is the beauty of the coast. It is the charm of an ancient history. It is the scent of an unspoiled environment. For all these reasons, it seduces and conquers the visitor’s heart upon each new entry into its territory. It takes very little to discover its magic.
The Apennines, certified natural monuments, frame a setting of soft sea breezes, small bays and coves, a pristine coast, streams lined by green forests, picturesque villages, places of a distant past, ancient traditions, and things still made with TLC.
If the appeal of the coast captures the world's attention, the inland terrain conquers the soul of those that go in search of it.
The marvelous littoral - made up of beaches, cliffs and enchanting caves, and facing a sea that is a kaleidoscope of colors - prepares the visitor for the splendor of the interior.
The Sarno River traverses green valleys with the Picentini and Lattari Mountains hovering overhead, while landscapes are drawn by the geometric cultivations of intensely-red San Marzano tomatoes. This is a welcoming land marked by enticing flavors and smells, by peace and quiet, all the while recounting its history through palaces, churches and castles, popular traditions and cultural events. And when you arrive in Cilento, you'll know it. Sheer cliffs, caves and caverns, white beaches, maquis and a multi-colored sea: such is the Cilento Coast, stretching from Agropoli to Sapri and passing through many picturesque villages that are filled with history.
Driving inland, the visitor enters the heart of the National Park, a natural treasure where the green of the oak, maple, ash and chestnut forests becomes more intense and, on the mountains, gives way to tall beech forests.
It is a world of contrasts, nonetheless linked one to the other by the harmony of this incomparably beautiful environment.
Memories of a visit here continue to echo in the heart long after leaving.
A diamond in the rough, it was transformed by man into a precious jewel, a fruit of the time, labor and care that were indispensable in reaching such a perfect balance between the beauty of nature and the creativity of man: it is the Amalfi Coast.
The passion and energy devoted to this unbelievably beautiful series of glamorous towns and romantic cliffs and winding roads makes itself equally--fetl in Vietri sul Mare, for instance - Vietri sul Mare is actually the entrance portal to the "Divine Coast."
The visitor is stunned by the bright and intense colors shining from every nook and cranny, a reflection of the favorable light of the sun, and by the cobalt blue of the sea that blends with that of the sky, by the colorful houses clinging to the rocks that tumble and climb one over the other, by signs of ancient civilizations, by the warmth and joy of the local people, by the intense scents and colors of native lemons and olive groves, vineyards, and gardens in brilliant bloom.
Amalfi, with its beautiful beachfront where the streets, alleys and stairs meander through the town toward the Duomo, is known for its magnificent mosaic façade.
Atrani, rather, is a picturesque village where the bright colors of the gardens are interspersed among the white houses.
The elegant and sophisticated Ravello (home of the famed Festival) boasts its Duomo, as well as the gorgeous Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo, a mixture of different styles and periods surrounded by charming terraces.
Minori, famous for the beauty of tits landscape and for its 1st-Century Roman villa, finely decorated with stuccos, mosaics and frescos.
Praiano, then, can be discovered by hiking the trails that wind through an unparalleled natural environment, or by visiting attractions such as the Church of San Luca Evangelista, that displays marvelous 16th-Century paintings.
Positano is a gem nestled among stark cliffs, with the three Sirenuse Islets just offshore. The color of the houses mingles with that of the boutiques, the workshops and the elegant bars and restaurants that enliven the narrow streets.
A visit to the Grotta dello Smeraldo, or Emerald Cave, is a wonderful experience, thanks to the many stalactites and stalagmites, and the bright color diffused by sunlight that penetrates through the cracks and crannies of the rocks.
In the Cilento area one can have an ideal vacation experience, within a landscape dotted with charming towns and significant archaeological and historical sites. Innumerable itineraries follow trails that narrate millennia of history, all framed by a gorgeous sea and pristine beaches.
Another small gem is the famous Marina di Camerota, with its peculiar port, coves and the wonderful caves; meanwhile, the jagged coast of Palinuro charms, carved as it is by the many sea caves that include the Grotta Azzurra. Crystal-clear springs, lakes, streams and rivers set in a pristine environment characterize the interior of the National Park that protects the Grotte di Castelcivita and the Grotte dell’Angelo.
Paestum is known as the "plain of the gods," thanks to its well-preserved Greek temples, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Magnificent at night, it is even more beautiful during the day when the three temples – the Temple of Hera, the oldest, the Temple of Neptune, the largest, and the Temple of Cerere, actually dedicated to Athena – acquire different shades depending on the angle of the sun. Invaluable finds are exhibited in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale, among which are the 33 metopes that once decorated the Temple of Hera, along with the frescoes of the Tomb of the Diver from the 5th Century BC.
In the park one can find the majestic complex of the Certosa di San Lorenzo, otherwise known as Certosa di Padula, one of the largest monasteries in the world. Salerno, the Capital of this wonderful land, is a modern town built around the harbor and an old, Medieval town at the feet of the Arechi Castle from which there is a spectacular view of the entire Bay. Among the main attractions the city offers the Duomo di San Matteo stands out with its bronze portal and tall cylindrical bell tower, and the Church of San Giorgio, with its precious furnishings and paintings. Finally, one should not miss a visit to the Provincial Archaeological Museum - check out artefacts from pre-history all the way to the late Roman Empire - and the Diocesan Museum with its valued works of art and numismatic collection.
The natural environment within the Province of Salerno is akin an open-air gym.
The beauty of the sea is an irresistible call for those that love snorkeling, seawatching and scuba diving. Windsurfing, kitesurfing, surfing, sailing, canoeing are also highly recommended.
A boat trip in search of hidden coves or sea grottoes is an experience that leaves indelible moments impress in the visitor's memory.
For those who simply desire relaxation in the sun or time to dive into the crystal-clear waters, the topography here gives way to plenty of beaches and coves abounding with the scent of the maquis, and fresh, caressing breezes.
The Spas of Contursi and Montesano sulla Marcellana provide treatments utilizing the healing properties of the mineral waters.
For the more intrepid tourist, the Cilento e Vallo di Diano National Park is ideal. The Grotte di Castelcivita trail that winds through tunnels and underground passages filled with stalactites and stalagmites is a must; the trail arrives at the edge of the "death wells," deep water wells.
The itinerary of the Grotte dell’Angelo takes the visitor to the heart of the underground park, 8,202 feet deep, an almost surreal environment.
Trekking, hiking or mountain-biking are a few ways to discover the beauty of this land.
Cultural events and festivals spice up the villages and towns of the Province. Claiming international fame is the Ravello Festival, originally established to commemorate the great composer Richard Wagner, but having since evolved to celebrate a broader concept of music and dance while still clinging its roots. Ravello is called the "city of music" and, thanks to the relatively-new Oscar Niemayer Auditorium, the schedule of events is busier than ever before.
The Regata Storica is a re-enactment of age of the Maritime Republics – Amalfi, Pisa, Genova and Venice – that has been held by turn in each city for over fifty years. The galleons, built reproducing the original vessels of the era, painted with the symbols of the Republics and conducted by a helmsman and eight rowers, challenge one another along a 1.24-mi course.
The International Dance Award has been held in Positano for over thirty years and is dedicated to the great choreographer Léonide Massine.
Those who love shopping and souvenirs will be able to choose from the fashions of Moda Positano, the prized Amalfi paper, colorful ceramics in Vietri sul Mare, and the unique objects made from the olive-tree leaves of the Cilento zone.
Compelling is the Disfida dei Trombonieri, held during the summer in Cava de’ Tirreni in memory of the Battle of Sarno, where the eight Casali battle with swords and knives to win the silver copy of the Pergamena Bianca, the White Parchment.
Finally, the area is also known for its nightlife, with many bars and clubs for reveling until the wee small hours.
The delicious local cuisine of Salerno Province turns a great vacation into an extraordinary experience.
The variety of products and recipes will not disappoint those seeking the flavors that evoke the passion and the joy of its people.
Fish-based dishes abound for the sampling: think spaghetti with clams, fish soup, fried anchovies, swordfish rolls, octopus cooked with San Marzano tomatoes, and peppered mussels.
As far as meat is concerned, the traditional way of cooking it is on the grill and accompanied by delicious vegetables.
The cheese selection is ample in its flavors and varieties. Provolone, pecorino, manteca del Cilento, scamorza, buffalo mozzarella and burrino are all still produced according to centuries-old tradition.
Plenty of vegetable recipes are adapted to vegetarian gourmands as well, based on ingredients like legumes and veggies, such as the Controne bean soup (D.O.P.), seasoned with a few drops of the excellent Cilento Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, the San Marzano tomatoes and the Amalfi lemons.
The tomatoes are the main ingredient for the local pasta sauce, which has an even fuller flavor when homemade. The Amalfi lemons are used to make the famous Limoncello and to prepare sweets and desserts such as the babà, whose dough is employed for the torta babarese with whipped cream and strawberries, the sospiri and the lemon delizie.
Finally, pair all with such wines as Costa di Amalfi, Cilento, Castel San Lorenzo, Gragnano, Sorrento and Lettere, are all protected by the D.O.C. label.