Cilento Coast See And Do
This fishing village is a must-see spot for American literature buffsit is said that Ernest Hemingway found inspiration here for The Old Man and the Sea, and little has changed since the time of his visits. Local fishermen still ply the harbor's clear, blue waters, and the town's trattorias and pizzerias continue to serve dishes made with fresh local produce and the catch of the day. While you're in town, be sure to visit the recently restored Saracen tower that dates back to the 16th century.
Maratea is a quietly chi-chi town with one main strolling street and more churches than bars, and it remains, so far, a well-kept secret among native tourists. At the base of the Maratea Mountains, hotels cluster along the hidden gray-sand beaches, overlooking the beautiful Cedri Riviera and the shores of the Tyrrhenian Sea. If you can, stay at the Locanda delle Donne Monache, a converted early-18th-century nunnery in the old town (see "Where to Stay").
Paestum is the site of the only well-preserved Greek temples north of Sicily. Originally named Poseidonia, the city was founded in the seventh century B.C. by the Sybarites on the all-important trade route along the west coast. The Romans took over in 273 B.C. and Latinized the name to Paestum. Famous for flowers, the area prospered until the end of the Roman era. Today, the forests have been cleared, and the majestic ruins of the city stand in the open on the green plain.
Both Ascea Marina and the neighboring locality of Casalvelino have pretty beaches, but the best ones of all can be found in the rugged terrain around Palinuro. This town, which has a small museum of archaeological finds, takes its name from Aeneas' pilot, Palinurus, who is supposedly buried here. Beyond Palinuro, the sandy coast curves back north into the Gulf of Policastro, where there are two more pleasant beach villages, Scario and Sapri, which mark the southern boundary of Campania.
It's worth stopping off at Velia to catch a boat along the coast to the Grotto degli Infreschi, an idyllic pirates' cove of a beach, with water a shade of blue-green you thought existed only on celluloid. This small natural harbor once sheltered fishermen during thunderstorms. The beach can also be reached on foot, but you'll need to ask a local for directions, as the first part of the journey is unsigned.