From the fun, welcoming chaos of Naples to the fashionable and dream-like Amalfi Coast, Campania really offers a great array of interesting things to do&see to its tourists. However, the popularity of these places sometimes clouds the visibility of likewise not-to-be-missed areas that are truly worth a visit. One of these areas is, undoubtedly, Cilento. Located in the southern part of the region, Cilento is an area full of lush green, clear blue sea, yummy local food and excellent wines.
The Cilentan Coast, the coastline area of Cilento that stretches from the gulf of Salerno and Policastro, is a real paradise for sea and nature lovers. The Cilentan Coast is renown in Italy for the cleanliness and the transparency of its clear blue sea. Natures abounds, too. The Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park is the second largest Italian national park that became a World Heritage Site of Unesco in 1998. Because of this perfect combination of sea and nature, Cilento has become, over the year, the preferred destination for camping lovers.
Another reason why Cilento is popular in Italy is because it still feels so “genuine”, meaning that tourism has not completely transformed the characteristics of the place and you can recognize its own strong local identity. The absence of the railway system in certain areas has surely contributed to the preservation of Cilento’s local flavour. You can reach some Cilentan towns by train (especially among the coastline), nonetheless if you plan a visit here you might want to think about renting a car. Otherwise, you’ll have to rely on private buses to move from the train station to the small villages like Palinuro and Marina di Camerota.
It’s difficult for me to describe the feeling Cilento gives. Unlike the Amalfi Coast, you can sense that the place has not been disciplined by men (yet, but hopefully never). There’s a feeling of wilderness, of nature in its own rough and sublime state over there that you’ll catch almost immediately.
I remember I once rented a house there with my family and I woke up very early for a walk and then a relaxing swim in the sea. It was so nice to just be in direct contact with nature and, given the early hour, to have the crystal clear sea all by myself. Cilento is definitely recommended if you need or want to take a break from city life/work/routine and just live for a while in a more relaxed mood.
You’ll have to adjust your life to a new rhythm for a while and I think this is definitely one of the best things about Cilento: it kindly makes you live at a different tempo.
Tip: if you’re planning to visit Cilento don’t forget to go to Paestum! Paestum’s Archeological Site is truly enchanting, besides you can see there the second-best (after Athens, of course) preserved temples in the whole world.
Marina di Camerota represents everything Cilento is known for: a jewel nestled in between open nature and incredible sea. Marina means that this is the bye-the-sea part of the town called Camerota. It’s part of the Cilento and Vallo di Diano national park and it’s quite a busy tourism location in the summer thanks to the quality of its water. Cala Bianca, one of Marina di Camerota’s beaches, has been selected as one of the finest beaches in Italy (Cala Bianca can be reached only by foot or by boat. I’d recommend the second option because the path to the beach can be quite challenging at times, especially with the heat).
Marina di Camerota has a nice little port and many pretty narrow streets that make the town the perfect location for photography lovers. It’s quite a small town but, again, the joys of Cilento are more sea-, nature- and food-related (but worry not because if you’re in for some fun you can find famous clubs in the nearby Palinuro like the popular La Grotta).
Marina di Camerota is also notable for its paleontological caves where some human fossils were discovered in the 1960s. For a period of time these human fossils made the world think that researchers had found the missing link in the human evolutionary chain since some of the skulls found in one of these caves seemed to present features other than those of the Neanderthal Man. Scholars also named these remains as Homo Camerotensis but, unfortunately, subsequent studies demonstrated that there was a mistake in the previous research and the Homo Camerotensis hypothesis was immediately discarded. The caves are still wonderful, though (you can visit them by boat)!
The boat tour is very recommended not only because it’s pleasant to see Marina di Camerota’s coastline from the sea but, maybe more importantly, because this option will allow you to reach incredibly stunning beaches like the already mentioned Cala Bianca and, among others, my favourite: Cala degli Infreschi.
Baia degli Infreschi is part of a protected area and it’s one of the last patches on the Tyrrhenian sea where the “maquis”, the typical scrubland vegetation of the Mediterranean sea, is still perfectly preserved. It’s called “degli Infreschi” (I can’t give a direct translation in English but the overall meaning would be "Fresh Bay") because of the cold springs that flow into the sea cooling down the water on the surface while the water at the bottom remains warmer.
Lentiscelle beach, on the other hand, is reachable by foot, car, bikes, etc. It consists of a long stretch of pebbly beach and it’s located at 1 km from the city center. This beach tends to become a little bit crowded during the morning so if you really want to enjoy its beauty you should reach Lentiscelle either early in the morning or in late afternoon.
Last but not least, I’ve asked my parents, who are very knowledgeable about Cilento and, more specifically, about Marina di Camerota, to give me (and you, by default) some food suggestions! You can eat exquisite, local and affordable Cilentan food at the following Italian gourmet-parents approved restaurants:
La Cucina del Marchese
Antica Osteria del Borgo
Rianata A’ Vasulata (try their typical focaccia!)
Enjoy your stay at Marina di Camerota!
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