Driving Tour: A Drive in the Park

  • Start Grotte di Castelcivita
  • End Castelcivita
  • Length 112km; three days

Start this drive after a visit to the otherworldly Grotte di Castelcivita. Take the SS488 through Controne, continuing north on the strada provinciale 60; the road passes soaring cliff faces, ancient dry-stone walls and lush, arable countryside with wild cherry and fig trees. Put on the brakes at Postiglione, its medieval town centre crowned by an 11th-century Norman castle. Join the locals for a coffee in one of the Piazza Europa bars before continuing on the SS19 towards Auletta. The countryside here becomes dramatically mountainous, with a wonderful marbled rock face (think rocky-road ice cream).

Follow signs east on the SS19 to lovely Sicignano degli Alburni, just south of the road, taking in its 14th-century castle, baroque churches and historic convent. Sicignano is also the kick-off point for the two hiking trails that ascend Monte Alburno. Stay overnight at the nearby Sicinius agriturismo (farm stay). Next day, continue south on strada provinciale 35, passing the village of Petina, dramatically straddling a high ridge. Note that this is a fairly rough road; if you prefer more reliable tarmac, head north for the SS19, which is similarly scenic and continues southeast, passing the turn-off to the fascinating Grotte di Pertosa-Auletta en route.

The next stop is Polla, a strategic town during Roman times and lovely for a stroll, with its riverfront setting, 12th-century castle and brooding dark-stone houses. Pick up picnic food here and take the SS19 south (the A3 autovia is faster but not as scenic), following signs for Padula, where you can spend the afternoon exploring the extraordinary Certosa di San Lorenzo. Follow the signs to stunning Teggiano, around 15km northwest, and bristling with churches and museums, as well as a cathedral and a castle. Stay overnight.

Bright and early on day three, head north until you hit the SS166. Follow the signs to Sant'Angelo a Fasanella, a 13th-century town with a Roman bridge, medieval convents and churches, and an atmospheric centro storico (historic centre). Continue west some 18km to Castelcivita, your starting point.