Enchanted landscapes, pure wilderness, white beaches, prehistoric bays and caves washed by a clear sea. This is Cilento, one of the most picturesque place in the south of Italy.
Faced by the Tyrrhenian sea, near Pompei and the Amalfi coast, Cilento is an ancient land with a great cultural and naturalistic inheritance.
Myth lives in these places: according to a legend made immortal by the Eneide of Virgilio, Palinuro (Enea’s helmsman) died on the promontory that takes his name from. In Punta Licosa, the waves carried siren Leucosia’s body after she killed herself plunging into the water, for Ulysses’ love.
In Cilento there’s one of the biggest natural reserve in Europe: the Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park with the Protected Marine Areas of Santa Maria of Castellabate and Infreschi’s Coast. Nature, history, culture and arts blend togheter giving birth to an extraordinary scenery that UNESCO listed as World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve. This is also possible thanks to the balance between nature and humans defending biodiversity.
The Park is characterized by the Mediterranean Scrub with centuries-old olive trees, chestnut, ilex and pine woods. The Alburni Mounts, Mount Gelbison, Mount Bulgheria and Mount Stella look over the magic scenery of the Calore river and the Castelcivita and Pertosa evocative karstic caves.
Paestum temples and archaeological area of Elea-Velia (the native city of the philosophers Parmenide and Zenone) attract visitors from all over the world. The Certosa of Padula is one of the most sumptuous baroque-style structure of South Italy, with a cloister among the biggest ones in Europe.
Genista, myrtle and rosemary unmistakable scents mix up in the air with spontaneous aromatic herb, spices and typical products of Mediterranean diet.
It was autumn 1962 when Ancel and Margareth Keys came for the first time in Cilento. The American professor couldn’t know that his researches would have changed the world of food science.
However he realized that Cilento' local customs and habits had special benefits on health.
So he got a plot in Pioppi (a little hamlet of Pollica municipality) and he designed himself the house opened in 1966 on the occasion of 80’s birthday of Paul Dudley White (White House cardiologist).
He named that place Minnelea, a tribute to his native town of Minneapolis and to the near Greek polis of Elea. Minnelea became a real lab: some friends and collaborators of Keys moved to Pioppi to study South Italy’s dietary habits.
Angelo and Delia, Keys’ house gardener and householder, transferred to the professor and his wife all secrets and traditions of the pure and ageless place. Every evening Ancel used to eat two dried figs that Delia had left him on the bedside table.
After decades of studies Keys reached the result that a diet based on bread, pasta, fruit, vegetables, legumes, extra-virgin olive oil, fish and not much meat could contribute to reduce risks of cardiovascular and gastro-intestinal diseases. This allowed to live longer. That's the Mediterranean diet.
At the end of 70s Ancel and Margaret Keys published the book “How to Eat Well and Stay well, the Mediterranean Way”. The book introduced the notions of Mediterranean diet, its food, its benefits and its little restrictions.
In 2010 UNESCO placed Mediterranean diet on World Heritage List.
Keys used to say that he moved to Pioppi to prolong his life at least twenty years. He died in 2004, at the age of 101. His wife Margaret at 96.
He made it.