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The Province of Salerno: Not Just Sea

The Mediterranean Diet and Film Suggestions
 
The Province of Salerno: Not Just Sea The province of Salerno is one of the largest in Italy and boasts a variety of landscapes. Here, the crystal clear sea forms a backdrop to ancient inland villages, and nature reserves are filled like caskets with archaeological treasures and monuments declared World Heritage sites.
The fascination of the province has bewitched great actors, writers and musicians of the past and still continues to enthral visitors from around the world.
When talking about Salerno we cannot fail not to mention the famous Amalfi Coast with its magnificent pearls, most notably Amalfi, Positano and Ravello.
Yet there is another, less well-known area that is equally attractive and well worth discovering: the Cilento. Here, uncontaminated nature frames a sea of incredible beauty, winner of the blue flag awards that each year go to many of Cilento's beaches found in the National Park of Cilento and Vallo di Diano.

Our itinerary for Salerno can't ignore Paestum, famous for Magna Graecia's most impressive architectural complex. Of the three Doric temples that have become the symbol of the city, the Temple of Neptune is the most splendid and best preserved. Dating from the mid-fifth century BC, despite its name it seems to have been dedicated to Argive Hera, goddess of fertility and motherhood.

Less than 10 km from Paestum lies the seaside village of Agropoli, a favourite destination for all beach-lovers, but also a town that reveals unexpected artistic treasures, such as the ancient castle, reached by climbing the narrow winding streets of the old town. Let's not forget that Cilento is also the home of the Mediterranean diet. In fact, it was here in 1941 that the Pentagon's special assistant Ancel Keys was given the task of developing the ideal combat rations. While studying the Cilento diet, the scientist discovered a relationship between the consumption of local foods, such as oil olive, and the lower incidence of cardiovascular diseases. Since then, the Mediterranean diet has become famous worldwide and is an intangible heritage of humanity.
What better occasion, then, for tasting the typical dishes of the Mediterranean diet than right here at one of Agripoli's many beach restaurants, or at one of the inland agritourism farms?

And if it's invaluable treasures you're seeking, then we suggest a visit to the town of Valva, only 17km from Agropoli, whose fame is inextricably linked to the famous Villa d'Ayala, a true architectural jewel of the Salerno province. To visit Villa d'Ayala is to be captivated by the dreamlike atmosphere created by the harmony of the architectural forms, the splendour of the Italianate gardens, the ethereal peacefulness of the "foliage theatre", with its wings and scenery entirely created from vegetation, a typical feature of Italian gardens of that era, and the physical charm of the sculptures. The majestic Villa is also graced with a superb park, a splendid Norman tower and a late eighteenth-century castle.

As a sort of fitting gesture of esteem towards the provincial capital of so many splendours, we recommend a visit to the city of Salerno itself, with its wonderful Arechi Castle from the Lombard period, majestic Cathedral and tranquil seafront, in whose waters at night the castle reflects its lights, appearing as if suspended in space in a stunning visual effect.
It's hard to resist the temptation to continue on to the Amalfi Coast, just a few kilometres from Salerno. In addition to the most popular destinations, we suggest a visit to the village of Furore, known as the "painted village" due to its beautiful characteristic murals. The town has a wild, sensual beauty, heightened by its position perched above the sea. Perhaps it was these carnal traits that made it the theatre for the passionate romance between Anna Magnani and Roberto Rossellini, who loved and left each other here, recording in their hearts the poignant memory of a fairytale place.


Did you know that…?

The love affair between film director Rossellini and actress Anna Magnani ended when he fell in love with the beautiful Ingrid Bergman. She stole his heart by writing: "Dear Mr. Rossellini, if you need a Swedish actress who speaks English very well, has not forgotten her German, can barely be understood in French, and in Italian can say 'I love you', I'm ready to come to Italy to work with you."
From that moment on, the arguments between Rossellini and Magnani became proverbial. In Furore they still describe the episode when the actress, overcome by terrible jealousy, threw a plate of spaghetti with tomato sauce right in the director's face.


Michela Bilotta





 

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