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The word Cilento derives from the names of the rivers Sele and Alentum but the area today is strictly a flat(tish) strip of land squeezed between the River Sele and the mountainous fortifications between Agropoli, Sapri and the Diano interior.

The erosion of the chalk landscape over the centuries has left the territory rich in caves, cliffs and gorges.

Gorgeous these days, but a harsh place to live when transport was by donkey or foot.

Lorenzo Giustiniani in the late 1700's wrote of the town of Castinatelli:

"one of those wretched pitiable little lots that are seen scattered throughout Cilento inhabited by woebegone, grief stricken and dismal souls attached only to the intense labor of the land".

We hope he got out there alive.

The whole zone has been the Parco Nazionale del Cilento e Vallo di Diano since 1991 and we list a few reference points here and 5 itineraries here.

Try first the grottoes of Pertosa and Castelcivita, while the hamlets of Roscigno on the slopes of Mount Pruno and Centola San Severino are genuinely untouched, medieval treasures.

Worth visiting is the WWF Oasis of Persano, Montesano Terme and the unforgiving Alburni mountain plateau and the Carthusian Monastery of Padula.

This religious community was founded in 1084 in Grenoble, Switzerland and typically they offered hospitality to passing pilgrims, as well as making a small killing on medicinal herbs.

The town of Policastro is known for the cathedral where the monks escaped from Byzantine persecution and many rites still owe their origins to Greek custom.

Where it is and how to get there.

The NATIONAL PARK OF CILENTO AND VALLO OF DIANO includes nearly all the south portion of the province of Salerno. The official denomination of the park is not exact, therefore its perimeter remains without including the Vallo of Diano, which separates the Cilento from the Lucania, however the Alburni complex of mountains, remain included structurally separated from the real typical Cilento. The A3 motorway Salerno-Reggio Calabria runs along the perimeter of the park on the northern and eastern sides. The most convenient exits are Battipaglia for the Agropoli and Palinuro coastal band; Campagna, Sicignano, and Petina for the Alburni mountains, Sala Consilina and Padula for the Cervati area, again Padula for coastal band of Policastro and marina of Camerota. Various state roads with a winding corse, cross the Park, with beautiful and interesting landscapes. The state road 18 Tirrena inferiore, which is on the point of being a through road, it goes from Agropoli to Policastro, passing in a latitude direction from San Rufo to old Capaccio; The 267 of Cilento follows the coast of Agropoli until Velia to connect then with the 447 of Palinuro. By train you can use the Napoli-Salerno-Reggio Calabria line which serves all the Parks coastal zone, while the Battipaglia- Lagonegro runs along the northern side of the Alburni.