This tour follows the coastline of the Cilento, which climbs dramatically from the flat Piana del Sele at Agropoli to a series of huge cliffs, green valleys dotted with olive trees and promontories which stretch southwards.

The journey begins in the cliff top town of Agropoli. Near here the Romans established a settlement, "Ercula" on lower ground but the later inhabitants sought a better defended position on a promontory above. The site was further fortified by the Byzantines and called the "Akropolis". The 16th century castle stands upon Byzantine foundations. Despite constant attacks and occupations the coastal tower and the old town remain intact, with defensive walls and a 7th century entrance gate, reached by shallow steps, known as the "Scaloni". Within the old centre are the 16th century churches of the Santa Maria di Constantinopli and of San Marco and San Francesco.

Travelling south from Agropoli you reach Castellabate, with its ports of Santa Maria and San Marco. This small Medieval town lies upon a mountain top 278metres high. The 12th century castle which gave this town its name - "Castrum Abbatis", dominates the bay below. The ancient centre is a labyrinth of alleys and stairways and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Below, the picturesque fishing villages of Santa Maria and San Marco with their beautiful, "Blue Flag", beaches are unspoilt by tourism. At San Marco the traditional wooden ships are still made.

From San Marco you can take a boat or follow the path along the coast to explore one of the best preserved areas of the Cilento National Park - Punta Licosa. At the very tip of this beautiful oasis, where rare flora grows in a dramatic seascape, lies the island of Licosa, haunted by the myth of Leucosia. Unable to bewitch Ulysses, Leucosia committed suicide.

Above, to the east, Monte Stella towers to 1131 metres above sea level. From this peak there are sweeping views of the Cilento Reserve, with its lush vegetation. It is to here that pilgrims came, and still come, to worship at the Stella Maris Sanctuary. As you journey south of the mountain, pause awhile to visit Pollica, with its beautiful Friary, church and castle.

Returning to the stunning coast you come to Acciaroli, sheltered from sea storms, surrounded by hills covered in Mediterranean flora. Famed for its "Blue Flag" shore, superb wine, oil and figs, Acciaroli became internationally known when a jaded Ernest Hemingway came here to revive whilst writing his Noble Prize winning novel "The Old Man and the Sea". Continuing along the panoramic coastal road to Velia and Castellamare you pass through Pioppi. Stop here to see the 13thcentury Palazzo del Principi and enjoy the beautiful Passegiate sul Mare.

Velia is the name of the ancient city of Elea, one of the two major ancient cities found in the Cilento, and designated as a World Heritage Site. Founded by Greeks as "Hyele" it is famous as the base for the pre-Socratean philosophers, Parmenides and Zeno. The remains of the city walls, a gate and several towers constructed by the Romans still stand. Local limestone was used but also a unique sort of brick which is found only here. Castellamare, the Medieval part of this site is constructed on the ancient acropolis, on what was once a promontory.

Travelling toward Palinuro from Velia, you catch sight of the Medieval village of Pisciotta, perched high on a hill above the sea. Here you can wander the narrow alleys and stairways, past Palazzi and 16th century houses to find, at the foot of the Grand Palazzo, the highest point, splendid views of the sea. A footpath, lined with very old, very tall olive trees leads down to the shore and the Marina di Pisciotta, where the anchovies for the famous "alici di menaica" are caught using traditional nets. For Italians Palinuro is the most famous seaside resort of the Cilento - with its clean sandy beaches, crystal blue water, shops, boutiques and many facilities. The spectacular Arco Naturale and over 30 caves (five of which can be visited by boat) are added attractions.

The road south continues along stunning cliffs puckered with caves in which Paleolithic artefacts have been discovered to Marina di Camerota. High above the marina in the Medieval town of Camerota traditional pottery, resembling Greek amphora is still made. Passing through pine, chestnut and oak woods you come to San Giovanni a Piro. Here in 990AD Greek monks built the Abbey of San Giovanni Battista. Trails lead from the village into the southernmost tip of the Cilento Reserve - Punta degli Infreschi - and to Monte Bulgheria.

This journey ends in what was once also a famous destination for the Roman Patricians - Sapri- described by Cicero as "a small gem of the southern sea". (There are still Roman remains to be seen in the harbour.) In 1857 Carlo Piscane, landed here with 300 men hoping to start an uprising against the Buorbons who then ruled Italy, A monument to this famous event in the history of the Risorgimento stands in the gardens of the Villa Comunale. Today, Sapri is one of Campania's most sought after bathing resorts.