In Cilento there's a unique heritage of culture and beauty, but also of good food. That's Mediterranean Diet's home, do you know the typical products?
In the south of Campania, between the Gulf of Salerno and that of Maratea, there is one of the most beautiful coastal areas in Italy and, without exaggeration, in the world. It's Cilento, which includes miles of beaches bathed by a breathtaking sea and several inland villages, each with its own heritage of culture and nature to offer. Here is the largest protected area in Italy: the Cilento. Vallo di Diano and Alburni National Park.
Between archaeological sites of undisputed charm, such as Paestum and Velia, and protected marine areas where turtles go to lay their eggs, you'll also have many opportunities to learn about the local food and wine production which is very rich. Here's where the quality of the ingredients meets an ancient knowledge, making the cuisine of these areas unique. In fact, in Cilento are born the products on which the Mediterranean Diet is based. UNESCO declared it an intangible world heritage because it's made from genuine, healthy and of course tasty foods.
One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not eaten well
Where to go in Cilento to learn about the local cuisine
There is no place in Cilento where you wont taste exquisite food amidst enchanting landscapes.
For example, you may start your itinerary on the wonderful coast with its pristine sea and its beaches of soft golden sand. If you miss the flavors and aromas of the sea, here you can try the anchovies of menaica, fished in respect of the environment. In fact, the name derives from an eco-sustainable fishing technique. You can find them between Pisciotta and Pollica, beautiful coastal towns.
Later, go to the vast and sunny countryside surrounding Pisciotta, you'll experience the thrill of seeing some of the largest olive trees in the world. From them comes one of the absolute excellences of the region, the extra virgin olive oil. The majestic millenary plants of this area also produce tasty olives to eat.
Traveling south, then, you'll reach Lentiscosa, a tiny town in the hills between Marina di Camerota and the Gulf of Policastro. A particular type of peas is at home here, the Maracuoccio di Lentiscosa and if you love legumes this is where you can start a real themed itinerary.
Go on towards the inner region, until you reach Casalbuono, then north till Controne and finally to Cicerale. In these small villages you will get to know the local culture through the flavors of the chickpeas and beans that have been grown in these places for centuries. They are special and according to tradition, exquisite soups are made from all of them. Alternatively, try them with the famous local pasta, the fusilli of Fellitto, a few kilometers from Cicerale.
Along the way don't miss the opportunity for a stop in Pertosa to visit the famous caves, but also to taste the typical white artichokes.
To conclude the journey, move back to the coast, to Ogliastro and Agropoli, very famous summer locations where, among other things, the sweet white figs are grown, which can also be tasted dried.
A trip through the Cilento flavors must absolutely include at least some of the excellent typical cured meats and dairy products. Try the sausage or the brawn from Vallo di Diano and Gioi, known for their unique flavor and the superior quality of the meat. In the whole Cilento, finally, mozzarella and a very tasty cheese are prepared. It's called cacioricotta, made from the milk of local goats. A delight for the palate as fresh as it is seasoned.
What would an itinerary through the network of taste be without a glass of excellent wine?
It is an integral part of the Mediterranean Diet and of the tradition of Cilento, which has several varieties to offer. In fact, the vines from which important wines are born are cultivated throughout the region, which have obtained various awards over the years.
Paestum is a great starting point for a local wine tour. An archaeological area of great importance, this town and the lands surrounding it are also famous for its wines, including Paestum I.G.T, produced from various vines such as Aglianico, Sangiovese, Merlot and others. In the same area, but not only there, Cilento Rosato is also born, an aromatic wine with a unique taste, perfect for an aperitif or appetizer.
A little further south, between Agropoli, on the coast, and Prignano in the hinterland, grow some vines from which red wines are obtained, perfect with the local meats and cured meats. Aglianico del Cilento PGI is among the most famous, but it's not the only one.
Another celebrity of this region is Fiano Cilentano, a dry white wine. The vine from which it is obtained grows well throughout the area, perfectly adapted to the varied local territory.
The taste network of the Mediterranean Diet
A complete list of products, recipes and preparations of the Mediterranean Diet that have their home in Cilento would be basically endless. The variety of fruit, legumes and vegetables is very wide, as well as that of cheeses, dairy products, but also meat and fish. Not to mention pasta and olive oil, among the undisputed cornerstones of good food in Italy.
How to choose, then? It's easier than you may think. The companies united under the Parco brand have created a real network of taste, thanks to which you can organize your itinerary between flavors and traditions.
There are dozens of Cilento companies that are part of it, guaranteeing the quality and authenticity of their products. Have fun getting to know them all, traveling through the unforgettable landscapes and villages where you can get in touch with the fascinating, ancient local culture.