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By Phil Hanlon
Cilento is a popular tourist area in southern Italy, located to the southeast of the famous Amalfi Coast. Although perhaps not as well-known as its neighbour, the beaches of the Cilento region are just as beautiful as the Amalfi, and are usually a little quieter in the summer months too. The Cilento region is one of contrasts; in one day you could be walking through forests, where some of the last wild wolves in Europe live, exploring impressive Roman ruins in the home of Cicero and Virgil, and finally stretching out on a sunny beach and maybe going for a dip in the sea.
There are Roman ruins and remains to be found throughout the Cilento region, but some of the most impressive are in the town of Velia. Home to Virgil and Cicero, two of the most recognisable names from Roman history, the excavated town now lies exposed on a hillside outside the modern settlement. The best preserved building here is the baths, where visitors can still see many of the original decorative tiles, while an arched gate dating from the 6th century BC is still standing. The nearby town of Paestum is one of the main attractions in Cilento for history buffs, with a fine collection of well-preserved Roman and Greek buildings, including three temples, and is classified a World Heritage Site. By now, the kids are probably fed up of looking at piles of rock, so why not take them to Castelcivita caves near Paestum. The mile-long path takes you through caves dotted with underground features, boating intriguing names such as the crocodile hall and the lemon room.
Head to the coast
The beaches along the Cilento coast vary from long stretches of sand to tiny rocky coves. Some of the latter can be difficult to clamber down to and, obviously, there is no lifeguard on duty, but it is worth the climb to have a beach almost to yourself, if you are careful about swimming. One of the prettiest resorts on the coast is the hilltop Castellabate, a medieval village that also boasts a long sandy beach nearby and plenty of space. While the Cilento region may not have all the tourist amenities of the Amalfi Coast, is does have peace and quiet and the chance to escape the crowds, even during the peak season.
Explore the great outdoors
The Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park is one of Italy's newest national parks, created in 1991 to protect the natural scenery from the expansion of tourism. The move has protected an area that is ideal for hikers, whether you enjoy walking through forests or along the coast. Though the region is home to some of the last wild wolves in Europe, visitors are perfectly safe to explore and even camp in the area. There are some impressive peaks within the national park, which offer views along the coast and inland to higher mountains too.
The Author, Phil Hanlon, writes for Holiday Home Rentals who have a selection of Villas in Cilento and Apartments in Cilento which can be rented direct from their owners.
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