Cilento and Vallo di Diano
The Cilento is a cultural landscape that has blossomed in prehistoric times and the Middle Ages. Because of its geographical location, it played an important role in Mediterranean trade, culture and politics.
Colonization by the Greeks started here in the 7th century BC, as part of the development of Magna Graecia (the towns founded by Greeks along the coast of South Italy and Sicily). Agropoli and Poseidonia were among these new colonies, later followed by Elea.
Most of the towns and trading routes fell into decline after the region became part of the jurisdiction of Rome (3rd century BC). Only in the Middle Ages these revived, and castles and religious buildings were added to the landscape that is characterized by its east-west mountain ranges and favourable climate.
Visit January 2005
From my hotel in Paestum, I explored this rather large area in two stages. On the first day I visited the archaeological remains in Paestum itself. The ancient Greek buildings are in an unbelievable good condition. They are the best examples I've ever seen, they may even be the best around in what's left of Ancient Greece. The local museum is also worthwhile, especially to see the painted coffins like the Tomb of the Diver (as old as 480 BC).
Two days later I got back in the car and criss-crossed the valleys. I had some trouble finding the places I wanted to see (that happens quite often), so I spent more time behind the wheel than I had hoped for. But I did reach ancient Elea, where the round Porta Rosa gate overlooks its surroundings like a medieval tower.
In Padula, on the other side of the valley, the San Lorenzo charterhouse is a mighty building. It shows a far more recent episode in Cilento's history: the design is mainly Baroque. The city of Padula itself is strategically built on a hilltop, which you see quite often in this region. Roccagloriosa and Roccadaspide are two other good examples of these medieval building tactics.
More photos can be found in the Picture Gallery
|john booth (New Zealand):|
This site covers a huge area, including a wealth of coastal, rural and mountain scenery. Besides this I took trains to find the ancient Greek enclave of Velia (near Ascea station) with its mosaics. I then returned to Paestum (which has its own station) to see the statuesque temples of Athena, Neptune and Hera, all reminiscent of Athens.
Trenitalia runs a bus service from Battipaglia down the Vallo di Diano to Padula which I took to visit the huge San Lorenzo monastery.
| Date posted: September 2011|
Have you been to Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park with the Archeological sites of Paestum and Velia, and the Certosa di Padula
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