The largest town in Campania after Naples, Salerno is the southern gateway to the Amalfi Coast, and among our favorite off-the-beaten track destinations. Largely undiscovered by tourism, its wealth of artistic and historical offerings makes it well worth a visit. The city prides itself on having one of Italy's most beautiful seafront promenades and a delightful medieval center -- full of small shops and restaurants -- with a superb 11th-century Duomo.

Salerno is also the departure point for the Cilento, one of Italy's best-kept secrets and an area that is virtually unknown to foreign tourists. Covering a large section of the southern part of Campania, the Parco Nazionale del Cilento -- the second-largest park in Italy -- contains many exciting natural attractions, including two huge caves, a beautiful hilly, unexplored interior, small fishing towns, and seaside resorts with fine sand beaches. The Cilento was where the ancient Greeks built some of their most important colonies, whose grandeur is still visible in the unique ruins of Paestum, home to the best-conserved Greek temple after the Theseion in Athens. The beautiful coastline of the area is popular with Italians at the height of summer, and, it must be said, has been rather spoiled by sprawling development. Most foreign tourists make a beeline for the temples at Paestum and move on, thereby completely missing out on the Cilento's wild, uncharted interior, the scenic shores, and last but not least, the wonderful cuisine.