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The medieval town of Castellabate, in the Cilento National Park in Campania Southern Italy, is perched on a hill almost 300m above sea level.  From there you will see the breath-taking view along the stunning Cilento coastline, incorporating the two hamlets of San Marco and Santa Maria.  The tour is based in San Marco which is a fishing village dating back to Roman times. The remains of a Roman port have been found under the sea in the area of the fishing harbour.

This Cilento and Vallo di Diano Natioanl Park which became a protected UNESCO area in 1998 is steeped in history.  Originally dominated by the Greeks, 2,500 years ago then the Romans, followed by the Saracens, Normans, French, Spanish and Austrian to name a few.  This rich combination of cultures has had an impact on the architecture and cuisine of the region.  The area is known for its mozzarella production from the milk produced by the water buffalo.  It is believed the buffalo were probably originally brought from the east into Sicily and then here by the Normans in the 11c.  Cilento is also known for its DOP olive oil produced from the rich cultivation of the olive trees planted here by the Greeks, in this area of Italy which became known as Magna Grecia.

One of the highlights of your stay will be a visit to the Doric Temples at Paestum.  These temples were built, no one really knows how, by the Greeks in around 2,500 years ago and are still standing magnificently exactly where they were originally built with almost no restoration.

The area is also renowned for its Cilentana cuisine, using the natural local products of figs, artichokes, tomatoes, fish, chickpeas, aubergines and many of the products connected with the Mediterranean Diet.  This term was coined by an American, Dr Ancel Keys, living here in 1950s, who was amazed at the longevity of the life of the local people.  Keys undertook research into the diet of the population which resulted in the documentation of the benefits of eating a healthy “Meditteranean Diet”.  Thus, Cilento is the birthplace of the Diet which has become renowned by heart surgeons all over the world.

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