Campania is a wonderful region in the South of Italy. The mild climate, beautiful coastline, and rich artistic heritage provide a variety of places to visit and a plethora of indoor and outdoor activities. The ideal destination for a fun and culture-packed study holiday, this wonderful, sun-kissed corner of Italy, commanding views over the Tyrrhenian Sea, always offers something new to explore.
Naples is the regional capital and is known throughout the world for its incredible history, its monuments and its friendly people. But, there is so much more to Campania than Naples.
There are lots of places to visit in the region—each with its own story to tell—such as Naples, Caserta, Herculaneum, Pompei, Salerno, Paestum, and the Sorrento and Amalfi Coasts, not to mention the Cilento Coast, a little further south.
The Lattari Mountains Regional Park surrounds the entire Sorrento-Amalfi peninsula with its highest peaks at Sant’Angelo a Tre Pizzi and Mount Faito. Nestled between the mountains and the sea, the park is a setting of rare beauty thanks to the magnificent views over the coast.
The Vesuvius National Park (Vesuvius – Mount Somma) boasts several nature trails to the summit of Mount Vesuvius (the Great Cone) and the mouth of the crater, from where visitors can admire the unique panorama: Naples and the Gulf of Naples, Gaeta and the Sorrento peninsula.
The Archaeological Park of Pompeii, extended to Stabia, Herculaneum, and Oplontis is part of the UNESCO heritage and offers a unique experience to the visitors. Narrow streets, alleys, houses, temples, public buildings, rich patrician villas, ancient shops … submerged by the lava of Vesuvius eruption in 79 A.D. they have been brought to light by the meticulous work of archaeologists from around the world.
The Sorrento peninsula overlooks the Tyrrhenian Sea in the Gulf of Naples and constitutes the Sorrento coast, while on the side that overlooks the Gulf of Salerno it forms the Amalfi coast. Both coasts are famous the world over for their naturalistic, scenic and gastronomic beauty and typical local products such as limoncello, a liqueur made from lemons from the Sorrento or Capri area, provolone del Monaco DOP or Campania buffalo mozzarella DOP.
Opposite the Sorrento peninsula are Capri, Ischia, and Procida. Ischia, well known for its thermal baths, is the largest of the Parthenopean Islands. Its scenic beauty is characterised by irregular, jagged coasts, with alternating flat and high and steep stretches that afford stunning views. Procida, on the other hand, is the smallest of the islands and has a series of colourful houses, ancient buildings and breathtaking views that make the island perfect for an out-of-town trip or romantic weekend.
The beauty of Capri is renowned throughout the world for its Faraglioni, the Blue Grotto, the Natural Arch, Marina Piccola beach, Certosa di San Giacomo Monastery and the archaeological areas of the Greek Acropolis. Capri ‘s majestic panoramas and very mild make it a magnet for tourists all year round, as a winter and spring holiday destination and as a seaside resort and luxury tourist centre in summer. It is no coincidence that it is known as the “pearl of the Gulf of Naples” and as “Sirens Island“.
Paestum in Piana del Sele [the Sele Plain], is located south of the region, near the sea and north of Cilento National Park. Also known as Pesto, the ancient city of Magna Graecia was given the name of Poseidonia by its founders, in honour of Poseidon. Today, the city is famous throughout the world for its extremely important archaeological park. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the archaeological site, surrounded by ancient city walls, is characterised by the presence of three magnificent, very well preserved Doric temples.
The National Park of Cilento, Vallo di Diano and Alburni, recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1998, is an Italian national park extending over a vast natural area across 95 municipalities , each with art and traditions yet to be discovered. Spectacular landscapes, wild and unspoiled nature, wonderful sea, archaeological sites, museums, marine parks and natural oases, the park is a perfect example of the how nature has been able to create a unique heritage for its inhabitants and for the many tourists who visit the region each year.
Padula, at the heart of the western area of Vallo di Diano, is home to Certosa di San Lorenzo, the largest monastic complex in the South of Italy and one of the most interesting in Europe on account of its magnificent architecture and abundant artistic treasures. Construction works began in 1306 by Tommaso Sanseverino, count of Marsico and lord of Vallo di Diano. The Certosa, recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1998, covers an area of nearly 50,000 square meters with three cloisters, a garden, a courtyard, and a church as well as the internal areas of the complex.
The region’s geographical position and pleasant temperature mean that students can take part in many outdoor activities—even in autumn.
If you have a passion for sailing, diving, windsurfing or other watersports, you can contact one of the area’s many specialist centres to organise your activity.
The diverse landscape with mountains and hills overlooking the sea boasts a number of paths and trails suitable for picturesque walks and excursions, which will appeal to those with a passion for sports in contact with nature.
The stunning mountains surrounding the area are a source of endless mountain bike trails for exploring the region beauty spots for mountain bike lovers. There are exciting routes such as Le Croci di Acerno one of the most beautiful routes of the Picentini Mountains, whose technical difficulty is not high or the Vassi-Votraci suitable for trained bikers or those that cross the Alburni Mountains offering wonderful views and pure adrenaline. Nature, fun and sport combined in a single activity; a different way to appreciate the wonders of the place.
The Valley of the Ferriere, is a unique place in the world; it can be reached on foot from Amalfi. The many waterfalls and waterways mean the area is cool even at the height of summer, and make many plant species thrive. The path inside the reserve leads from the Lattari Mountains towards Amalfi, through woods and over streams. The valley is named after the ruins of the mediaeval ironworks found along the route and from the ancient ironworks that once supplied the Maritime Republic of Amalfi with iron.
Extreme sports lovers can experience the thrill of the “Flight of the Angel” zip-line: a 1550-metre suspended pathway that takes about a minute and a half, from the Cilento in Volo building to Trentinara, a small and characteristic village in the heart of Cilento. Surrendering to the sensation of flying accompanied by the noise of the pulley that runs along the steel cable provides a pure adrenaline rush. Because life is a thrill that flies away…
“That precipitous coast… where the gods are forsaken and you find a lost self again…” is how D. H. Lawrence described the 10-km Path of Gods on the Amalfi Coast that overlooks the see and commands breathtaking views. Perfect for those who love nature sports. The path from Agerola to Nocello follows a slight incline, amid green landscapes, and provides a direct panorama of Capri and the Amalfi Coast.
The local gastronomical products of the Campania Region, which are also the basis of the Mediterranean diet, are celebrates at the various festivals that take place in the region’s towns and cities every year. A different way to experience Italian conviviality, hospitality, creativity, joie de vivre and the initiative of a community that makes food one of the cornerstones of their culture.
The land of the ancient Greeks, Paestum is also famous for its artichoke production. It is also home to the famous “Paestum PGI Artichoke Festival”, which is also known as “Tondo di Paestum”. The artichoke is a key local product and boasts a prestigious brand, i.e. PGI Protected Geographical Indication, which adds a touch of prestige to the festival that takes place in Piazza Borgo Gromola in Capaccio.
Squille, in the province of Caserta, hosts the annual asparagus festival that attracts thousands of visitors keen to try the local asparagus cooked in a variety of ways. In addition to the possibility of enjoying delicious dishes, the event also includes music, Latin American dance, entertainment and a market that sells crafts and typical products.
San Marco dei Cavoti in the province of Benevento is the venue for the annual Capocollo Festival that celebrates the gastronomic specialties of the Alto Sannio. Capocollo is a typical pork product made from pigs raised on the Sannio hills. The tasting menu includes other local specialties such as caciocavallo and Fortore cheese, local salads, “Saragolla” durum wheat bread, artisan cakes and biscuits, watermelon and Aglianico Taburno wine.
Controne is a small town near Salerno known for the cultivation of a number of bean varieties, been passed down for hundreds of years. The traditional festival brings the whole town together and sees numerous visitors flock to the streets to try the area’s typical dishes prepared with the White Bean of Controne, dressed with extra virgin olive oil.
Pontecagnano Faiano is a small town near Salerno and is packed with history: from the Copper Age to the modern day. Situated on the coastal strip that leads tourists from Positano to Paestum through Pompeii, Pontecagnano is the fourth P of a renowned tourist area in the Campania region. Thousands of visitors pass through centuries of history and culture every year while visiting the towns along this wonderful coast.
In pre-history, the site was inhabited by the Gaudo populations typical of the Campania Region in the Copper Age. The classic traits of the Villanova Civilization—typical of Etruria at that time—emerged between the 9th and 8th centuries BC, and continued into the subsequent Etruscan period. In the fourth century BC, the centre came into direct contact with some of the neighbouring populations (Sanniti, Greci, Lucani).
The city later came into contact with the Roman civilization; the town of Sant’Antonio in Picenzia, now an integral part of Pontecagnano Faiano, retains in its name the memory of ancient PICENTIA, the largest city of the Picentine people, which was destroyed for rebelling against Rome during the war against Hannibal. In the Middle Ages, the municipal territory was sparsely populated due to its flat and marshy conformation and was part of the fiefdom of Montecorvino Pugliano which was very rich at the time, both in terms of demographic growth and improved living conditions due to the reclamation initiated by the Bourbons.
Faiano was the first hamlet built on the hills of the Picentini mountains, when the sea invaded the plain and the people moved to the high areas for safety, given the Saracen invasions. The hamlet of Faiano was, therefore a major fiefdom of the Benedictine Abbey of Salerno and became the site of intensive agriculture, known for the production of several exclusive varieties of apples and walnuts. The reclamation of the plain commenced towards the end of the 18th century and the reconstruction of the city began around the Church of the Immaculate Conception, which was built in 1843.
Following the development of the crops and the economic recovery, the “low fractions” of the Municipality of Montecorvino Pugliano, Pontecagnano and Faiano began to demand municipal autonomy, which they obtained on 18 June 1911, when the municipality of Pontecagnano Faiano was formed. The lawyer Amedeo Moscati, a supporter of autonomy, was appointed as the city’s first mayor. A combination of agriculture and industry led to the gradual development of tomato and tobacco production and to the creation of major industrial plants such as tobacco farms and canning and pasta factories.
The Pontecagnano Faiano coast in the Gulf of Salerno was one of the beaches on which the Allied main force landed during “Operation Avalanche” in September 1943. The landing saw thousands of Americans, British, and Canadians fight to free Italy from the German troops. The British War Cemetery in Pagliarone near Pontecagnano is a reminder of this period in Italian history. The War Cemetery contains the tombs of around 1,800 of the 23,000 soldiers who landed to liberate the town from German occupation.
Buffalo mozzarella, produced by the “Filippo Morese Farm”, which has been breeding buffaloes for centuries and by the Caseificio Taverna Penta, that produces the region’s best mozzarella, is another source of pride for Pontecagnano Faiano. The ancient Taverna Penta farmstead, recognised by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities as a “testimony of architecture of undisputed historical and environmental importance”, was once a stopping point for the carriages that travelled the ancient consular road of Calabria.
The “Etruscans of the Frontier” National Archaeological Museum holds clues to the ancient civilizations that lived in the area. The Museumexhibits archaeological finds from Pontecagnano, the centre of Villanova and Etruscan-Campania. An invaluable heritage with has seen archaeological finds retrieved from over 9000 burial sites in the necropolis of Pontecagnano in the last fifty years. The museum itinerary is organised in chronological order and includes various sections dedicated to the various eras, from prehistory through to the Roman age, and provides visitors with an in-depth study of the city’s history and urban development.
Another place of great historical and cultural interest is the Archaeological Park of the ancient Picentia, which extends over around 10 hectares and comprises a visitable archaeological area of about 500 square metres, that attests to the history of the area between the fourth century BC and the fifth century AC. The digs have uncovered part of the Roman city, the centre of the ancient city of Picentia dating back to 268 BC, and some of the remains of the pre-Roman Etruscan settlement of Amina dating back to the 4th century BC. The park also has a dedicated area for events and family outings, where visitors can spend time outdoors, sit on the grass or play with their children.
On the Pontecagnano hills is the “Sette Bocche” (seven mouths) spring. The slightly sparkling, calcium and magnesium-rich water flows from seven different, nearby points. Legend has it that the water that flows from each mouth differs in both flavour and properties. The Acqua Fetente (fetid water) spring is another gift of nature. A source of sulphurous water with many therapeutic properties including the treatment of skin conditions and liver and kidney conditions. Many people seeking the beneficial properties of this excellent water still visit the spring today.
The city is now a tourist destination for those with a passion for culture and gastronomy. The local administration is currently investing in the area’s potential to create alternative forms of development in the following sectors: identity, landscape, archaeology, culture, environment, architecture and food and wine. The abundant olive trees and vineyards have found their ideal habitat in the area, thanks to the volcanic soil, the temperate climate helped by the sea and has many extensive agricultural areas that produce small leaf lettuce varieties, such as rocket, Valerian, Romaine lettuce and many more.
For those who would like to know more about wine, oil, lemons or Buffalo mozzarella, it is possible to visit some factories and spending a relaxing day learn about these incredible ingredients of Campania. You will have an introduction to the techniques of vineyard cultivation, visit the cellars and taste some quality wine and extra virgin olive oil. You will discover the secret of making a delicious “limoncello”, and you can visit a Buffalo Mozzarella farmland, for top quality cheese and enjoying a Buffalo mozzarella-based lunch.
The Pontecagnano Faiano hills are full of trekking routes that provide evocative mountain bike paths and trails. The city’s tourism marketing strategy centres around a special project that aims to improve the area’s resources to meet the demands of tourism as well as the area’s natural characteristics so as to guarantee economic and cultural growth for the good of the community. There is a strong, common desire to improve the role that tradition, history and geographical location have given the area. It is no coincidence that the municipality of Pontecagnano Faiano motto is: “Durantes Vincunt” – He who perseveres wins!