The Southern Tyrrhenian coast: Part 3 The Costiera Cilentana from Acciaroli to Sapri

Published on:  | Last updated: 8 February 2018

Scario (Campania): the Golfo di Policastro

Scario (Campania): the Golfo di Policastro

This section continues along the beautiful Cilento coast, passing some of Italy's best beaches around Palinuro and the Marina di Camerota, before climbing to the historic villages of Lentiscosa and San Giovanni a Piro. It ends with a glorious descent down to the Golfo di Policastro.

At a glance

Distance

90 kilometres

Difficulty/​Terrain

Moderately challenging: there's a climb of a little over 500 metres in altitude gain from Marina di Camerota, but it's not partic­u­larly steep.

Traffic

Outside of the main tourist season the roads should be relat­ively quiet.

Surface

Asphalt in good condition.

Map and altitude profile

Powered by WP-GPX Maps

tips for using the map

Map screen grab

Run your cursor over the graph to show the elevation, and distance from the start, for any given point on the route. (Note: the altitude graph is not shown where the route is flat).



map detail

Click the little icon in the right-hand corner to see the map fullscreen


Distances
Acciaroli - Palinuro 40.6 kms
Palinuro - Marina di Camerota 11.5 kms
Marina di Camerota - Scario 22.3 kms
Scario - Sapri 15 kms
Marina di Ascea (Campania): cycleway along the lungomare

Marina di Ascea (Campania): cycleway along the lungomare

This section continues along the Cilento coast combining a dramatic scenic roads, attractive villages and some of the most beautiful sections of the Italian coast.

Acciaroli to Pioppi

A short way along the coast is another charming former fishing port at Pioppi. The little lungomare is one of the nicest that you will find anywhere in Italy.

Pioppi’s claim to fame is that it is the Capitale Mondiale della dieta Mediterranea (World Capital of the Mediterranean Diet) — even the gelateria on the lungomare claims that its ice cream was made rigorosamente with ingredients that are part of the Mediterranean diet . Pioppi's claim is based on the fact that nearby Cannnichio was home for many year to the American physiologist Ancel Keys and a number of his collab­or­ators. Keys first put forward the hypothesis after observing that Italy had the highest concen­tration of centen­arians in the world.

While you're in Pioppi you might want to check out the Museo Vivo del Mare, run by the Legambiente and housed in the historic Palazzo Vinciprova.

Ascea and the Marina di Camerota

Another scenic stretch and a short climb brings you to the Marina di Castel Velino (and a nice beach). After the Marina di Castel Velino, a not very inter­esting stretch of road takes you over the river and into Castellammare di Velia past the Velia archae­olo­gical site. Among other things there's a Greek theatre high on a hill looking out to sea — an unusual sight on the mainland.

Close by is the Marina di Ascea with a lovely sandy beach, and cycleway along the lungomare. Unfortunately there is no through road, but it's worth the side-trip. From the Marina di Ascea the road climbs towards Ascea (altitude 200 m or so).

After Ascea, there's a wild and very scenic stretch of road, lined with ancient olive trees, on towards Pisciotta and Palinuro. There are a couple of short but steep sections on the way towards Pisciotta (pronounced pish-otta), an attractive town overlooking the sea with a centro storico grouped around the castle.

Lemon trees on the Costiera Cilentana near Pisciotta

Lemon trees on the Costiera Cilentana near Pisciotta

Palinuro and the Marina di Camerota

After Pisciotta there's a relaxed cruisey descent down into Palinuro. Palinuro is a bit touristy, but it's worth a detour to see the little port and beach at the Capo di Palinuro — or you could climb to the faro (light­house) on the rocky headland. The Capo Palinuro is also known for its grotte (caves) - some of which are only accessible by divers. The best-known is the Grotta Azzurra.

Myths and legends

Vergil's version is that Palinuro was the helmsman of Aeneas who fell in love with the siren Kamarotan. Drugged by Morpheus, the god of sleep, he falls overboard. He survives the plunge into the sea and is washed ashore, four days later, near Velia, where he is killed and left unburied. The Cumaean Sibyl, who has guided Aeneas into the under­world, predicts that the local people will come and build him a mound and the place will be named Cape Palinuro in his honour.

According to another version of the story, Aphrodite (goddess of love) hearing of her rejection of Palinuro, turns Kamarotan into a rock, condemning her to keep her rejected lover company for eternity.

From Palinuro the route follows the coast to the Marina di Camerota. There's a long stretch of sandy beach and the road here is likely to be busy on summer weekends and in the August.

The Marina di Camerota is a former fishing village and its borgo marinaro with its narrow streets converging on the Piazza San Domenico In the nineteenth century many people from the village emigrated to South America - and their influence is felt in the memorial to Simón Bolívar, and the main street is named after him along with a cinema.

Leaving the Marina di Camerota you pick up the SR562 and the biggest climb of the section (537 altitude gain over 10 kilometres). It's a great little climb with a series of hairpin bends and great views looking out to sea and over the resort, and the Torre Zancale (one of three watchtowers in and around the resort). It takes you past the Capella della Madonna di Piedigrotta (96m).

Lentiscosa and San Giovanni a Piro

Part way through the climb is Lentiscosa, a village founded by Basilian monks — Greek orthodox monks who were fleeing from religious perse­cution in the eighth and ninth-century Byzantine empire when religious images were banned (see wikipedia.org: Byzantine Iconoclasm). The monaci basiliani settled in remote places all over southern Italy and left their art in the chapels they built: the best known are the chiese rupestre in Matera and the surrounding area. While there are other frescoes, when it comes to completeness and the state of preser­vation I don't know of any that compare with the frescoes in the Cappella di Santa Maria ad Martyres. I don't know when the capella is open, but you could try asking in the tourist inform­ation office in the Marina di Camerota.

Near to Lentiscosa is the protected marine area of the Costa della Baia degli Infreschi e della Masseta. It's probably most easily accessed by boat from the Marina di Camerota.

Lentiscosa: frescoes in the capella Santa Maria ad Martyres
Frescoes in the church of Santa Maria ad Martyres (Lentiscosa). Photo: flickr user 'MONUDET'.

As I left Lentiscosa, I got caught in the rainstorm that had been threat­ening. In fine weather this would be a gorgeous stretch of road, looking out to sea over the olive groves. As it was, the clouds broke as I descended into San Giovanni a Piro and I was rewarded with a dramatic view over the Golfo di Policastro.

San Giovanni a Piro was also founded by Byzantine monks. The monastery of San Giovanni Battista (Saint John the Baptist), was on of the leading centres in southern Italy.

There's then another glorious descent down to Scario on the coast, an attractive village seaside village with views over the golfo.

The last section of the route is pretty flat, taking you along the coast through Policastro Bussentino, Capitello and Villammare. the road gets busier as you join the main SS18. There's a short tunnel on the SS18 at Villammare which you can avoid by following the lungomare.

Watchtower on the Campania coast near Torre Oliva

Watchtower on the Campania coast near Torre Oliva

More information

Places to stay

Hotels and B&Bs

There are plenty of places to stay along this stretch of coast - the main centres are Palinuro and the Marina di Camerota.

Find and book places to stay with Booking.com

Booking.com pages for places on this section of the route:

About these links

If you use these links to book accom­mod­ation Booking.com will pay me a small part of their commission. This helps support the costs of producing this site.

I use Booking.com to find and book places to stay when there are no campsites in the area. The large majority of hotels and many hostels are now on ‘Booking’. I like it because it means that I can get almost-instant confirm­ation. The rating system is also a reliable guide to the quality of the accom­mod­ation.

I’ve never had a problem finding places to keep my bike —even if it’s a cupboard or store room. I always use the ‘special requests’ field on the booking form to tell the hotel that I’m travelling with a bike, which gives them the oppor­tunity to let me know if there’s a problem.

Many properties offer free cancel­lation but it’s a good idea to check the condi­tions as these vary from property to property.

Campsites

There are lots of campsites in and around Palinuro and the Marina di Camerota (but note that most operate to a short summer season). I stayed at the Arco Natural Club which has excellent facil­ities but isn't the quietest site. The campsite gets its name from a natural archway in the nearby cliffs.

I also stayed at the Camping Acapulco near Villammare, which was quiet and spacious with access to a nice beach.

  Map of campsites along the route:  FT-STC-campsites-mapshow map in overlay    |    FT-STC-campsites-mapshow map in new window   

Transport and services

The station at Sapri offers connec­tions north to Napoli as well as south along the coast. There is no other station on this section of the route.

Vibonati on the Campania coast

Vibonati on the Campania coast

Articles in this series

Vibonati on the Campania coast

Vibonati on the Campania coast


Get in touch

Please get in touch if you find any errors in the information, or if there’s anything, good or bad, that you’d want other cyclists to know.

Join the mailing list?

If you’ve found this site useful why not sign up to the mailing list for occasional updates about new routes.