CILENTO NATIONAL PARK - CAMPANIA - SOUTH ITALY
FOOD & WINE
Cilento is the treasure chest that holds the ancient heart of Campania, and the atmosphere of a land untouched by time; even today the many little villages, now within easy reach by means of fast trunk roads, still maintain their original charm based on old stone building and unspoilt scenery. It's no coincidence that Cilento possesses historic memories of extraordinary value, such as Paestum, Veli and the "Certosa di Padula" (Charterhouse of Padula), and nature oases such as the national park and the marine park. Its mantle of woodland thins out as it approaches the sea with its sparking colours, with countless villages along its shores.
Although the tourist industry has only recently reached The Cilento, it can count on modern facilities and excellent services. This wealth, preserved over the countries by the wisdom of the inhabitants, is now at the disposal of people of good taste and sensitivity, to whom it offers a pleasant discovery and the simplicity of true warm hospitality, faithful to its memory.
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The Cilento is situated in the Province of Salerno, between Agropoli, Sapri and Vallo di Diano, near Calabria, Naples and Pompei. It features a 100 km long beautiful rugged coast and many bays and sandy beaches. It is bordered by mountains that reach peaks of 2,000 metres in height completing the picture with evergreen olive trees and the cobalt blue sea.Just 100 km south of Naples the Cilento offers a whole variety of excitements in one of Europe's most beautiful countrysides - antique sights in the UNESCO World Heritage, the second largest national park in Italy, a delicious regional cuisine, the sea, splendid panoramic views, sandy beaches, many possibilities for sporting...
So far the Cilento has managed to evade the domination of mass tourism, showing itself as one of the less harmed gifts of Mother Nature. Great parts of it, an area of 1.810 sq km were declared National Park in 1991 starting from the "Alburni" mountains in the north going down to the south coast.
Ever since the area is under protection, the world of animals and plants has become even richer and more varied. Today it covers many different kinds of woodpeckers, warblers, herons, eagles, but also butterflies, boars, foxes, wolves and otters; there is also a great variety of plants and flowers such as violets, anemones and all kinds of primroses.
There are two parts of this great natural park, just on the borders of the Cilento, protected by the international environmental organisation W.W.F., the "Parco del Persano" and the "Parco del Bussento".
The first one, in the north Cilento, is known as a natural environment for the otters, that are of Italian origins for over 60 per cent. This is a biological indicator for the quality of water and habitat. Observing the Otter know as the "Master of the River" is no easy task, but its traces can be spotted all over this part of the park. Willows, alders and reeds are typical for the vegetation near the River Sele; but also poplars, daffodils and irises grow in the protectorate. Other mammals living here are fitches, weasels, badgers and wild bears. During the winter season you can find thousands of aquatic birds like herons, cormorants and ducks, in the spring even the kite. The waters grow a rich fauna as well.
The "Parco del Bussento", founded in 1995 is situated at the bottom of a gorge, embedded in impressive landscape, where the Bussento River runs. Its shores are covered with mosses, ferns, willows and alders. Holm oaks, ash trees and the "macchia" embellish its slopes. Many animal species, sometimes endangered, prove that this valuable ecosystem must be protected. Even wild cats, wolves live in these woods, hawks, kestrels and kites in the air, trouts, crayfish, crabs and otters in the waters of the Bussento.
The Cilento takes part of Italy's most southern climate zone. However, even during the hot summer months July and August dry winds from the mountains often blow, creating a pleasant climate. Temperatures are mild in winter, too. Temperatures for hiking are preferable in the low season with mildness of both air and sea. The waters of the cobalt blue sea also keep quite mild even in the early winter periods like November when they still reach a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius.
Food & Wine
The Cilento is famous for its varied regional cuisine, featuring locally produced products, especially olive and chestnut products as evergreen olives and chestnut groves are prominent all over the Cilento.
The mild olive oil meets the top quality standard "D.O.C.", sometimes even organic quality standards.
Fruit and vegetable harvesting in the Cilento takes place four times a year; among them are citrus fruits, that allow the produce of a very well known fresh summer liqueur, called "The Limoncello", that is produced from the juiciest yellow lemons of the Cilento park. Here you will also find figs, apples, nuts, mushrooms and many many more naturally and traditionally grown products.
The Mozzarella di Buffalo, has a very prominent figure in the Cilento Area as well as various other dairy products that are made from cow, buffalo, sheep or goat milk.
Wine is mainly produced by small and sometimes private producers, in fact almost every family owning some ground likes to make their own wine. The most famous of these wines is the "Cilento Rosso" a fruity red wine.