Castellabate and Cilento Park

Castellabate is an old-world town with a lot of character and charm. The town is located in the Cilento National Park and thought to be one of the most beautiful in the Tyrrhenian coast. This is largely due to its unique architecture, climate and of course the beautiful sea views. Located at 280 metres above sea level, getting to the city is a process involving a climb up the steep and winding roads. This trip takes visitors to some of the most breathtaking views you will find in this region of the country.

The local landowner Castellabate founded the town in 1123, naming it after himself. The town has interconnecting houses, small gardens and narrow lanes. Much of the town’s restoration work has been undertaken sympathetically ensuring that it is kept looking as it did in its early history. Major focal points of the town are the marinas, including San Marco di Castellabate and Santa Maria di Castellabate. Many visitors take the popular medieval tour, which includes visits to the Iaquinto Palace and the Basilica Romanica.

For many reasons, Cilento Park and the region are important historically, but this is far from the only reason for tourists to visit the area. Many come for what the city is known for today and that is its marinas. The beaches feature crystal clear waters and the beaches are white and sandy, ideal for relaxing and sunbathing. The marinas are ideal for yacht lovers looking to spend time on the water itself.

The History of Cilento

Cilento has a unique and culturally valuable landscape well worth visiting and this is in addition to the region’s historical importance. The founding of Cilento Park was a critical event as the location was on a major trade route that linked the area to the Eastern world. However, even prior to the establishment of Cilento Park, the area was an important one because it helped to connect people from one region to the next. During the Medieval and Classical periods, this area was an important social crossroad.

Cilento’s earliest known human occupation dates back 250,000 years. During the Bronze and Iron Ages, the area was the home of warrior peoples fighting for control in this prominent region. However perhaps one of the first true settlements was that of the Ancient Greek Civilization, dating from the late 7th century. Finally, in the later portion of the 3rd century BCE, the region became a territory of the all-conquering Roman Empire. The Middle Ages brought with it a number of castles and a number of these Middle Age buildings or at least their foundations remain in place. Tourists are welcome to tour many of these famed and ancient buildings.

Cilento’s Food and the Mediterranean Diet

Visitors to the region should make sure that they sample some of the local dishes, particularly as the Cilento National Park is seen as the home of the famed Mediterranean Diet. There are many foods to try here, but the Mediterranean diet is one rich in cheeses, high quality wines and San Marzano tomatoes, to name a few of its most important staples. Campania is world renowned for its delicious cuisine and in fact many scientists attribute the overall health of those living here to this diet. The reduced number of instances of heart disease found within this region compared to others is remarkable.

A man named Ancel Keys, an American nutritionist, learned that the people of Cilento had fewer cases of some types of pathologies compared to the same aged people in the United States. After 20 years of research, looking at people from all over the world, including the US, Japan and Italy, Keys learned that the diet of the Mediterranean region was better at fighting off “well-being related diseases.” Specifically, a diet that is rich in olive oil, fruits, vegetables and fish is better able to fight off high cholesterol, cardiovascular diseases and conditions such as hypertension and myocardial infarcts.  Visitors to Cilento should spend some time sampling the healthy food that is so prevalent in this area; they will not only find it to be delicious but at the same time it is also good for them. For the best meals, visitors should skip the high-end restaurants and instead feast in the rustic village restaurants.

The Beaches of the Cilento Park

While the history and overall beauty of this location make it well worth visiting, many taking holidays in Cilento Park do so to enjoy the beaches. There are several that are impressive and well worth spending time on. One of them is Lago beach which is also known locally as “dei Rocchi”. This beach is wide and features white sands. The waters are clear and warm and it is a good location for children and adults alike.

Another beach to visit in Cilento Park is Mezzatorre Beach. This beach is in the San Mauro region and is perhaps one of the most notable beaches in the region. The waters are clean and ideal for snorkelling or diving. The beach also has several bays to explore.

Pozzillo Beach separates the towns of San Marco and San Maria di Castellabate. This modern region still has its historical charm but also offers limpid waters and a correspondingly clear view of the seabed. Finally, be sure to explore Trentova Beach in Cilento National Park. This beach received the Blue Flag Award for its crystal clear waters and the natural surroundings.

Hiking in Cilento Park

Many visitors allow time for hiking in the breathtaking surroundings of the Cilento National Park. Ancient trails dot the landscape, creating links to some of the most fascinating locations in the park.  Hike from Velia to Punta del Telegrafo or from Punta Licosa to the Museum of the Sea. Both of these treks are ideal for beginners. For those with more experience, hike to Monte di Capaccio Vecchio or hike the Ancient Trail of the Pilgrims from Novi Velia to Mt Gelbison. Hiking has become a popular tourist activity as much of the park is best seen on foot.

Caving in Cilento

Visitors often round off their trip by caving in Cilento National Park through the caves of Castelcivita, which date back to the 18th century. There are numerous successive chambers and shafts running through these caves, many leading to magical scenery and underground watercourses. Visitors can take in natural wonders such as the Bertarelli cave, the Grande Cascata (waterfall) and Orrido.

Each and every one of these excursions throughout Cilento National Park can be a breathtaking experience not to be missed. Any visitors to the region should book monarch flights and plan their holidays to include as many of them as possible.

Top Image by Artq55