Southern Charm: February 2017

 

Southern Charm 

A new Series about the South of Italy

with Toni Viterale 


Cilento

It is somewhat difficult to describe to an American what a town like Cilento is like…

It already is difficult to do so with an Italian…And yet despite our vast differences and the physical distance between my town and America, it seems that these two places are destined to be associated with one another and will rise above any distances, language barriers and such, and are joined together harmoniously.  

The town, Cilento, is intertwined with a long history that is as majestic as the “statue that welcomes you and symbolizes purity and freedom,” to quote Guccini; an epic tale based on individual stories of thousands
of men and women who are “Cilentani,” ambitious hard working folk who have crossed Ellis Island to join, work and live next to remarkable Americans. For decades, Cilentani have utilized their great work ethic, capabilities and talents in order to proudly establish themselves as Italoamericani.

Cilento is a union of small picturesque rural and coastal communities (“countries” as Cesare Pavese once said from “The Moon and the Bonfires”), a miniature model of the Federation of the US. Situated in the south of the province of Salerno by which it exceeds from Naples, and the Amalfi Coast and that which includes the treasures of Paestum and a vast and unspoiled National Park.

There is a genuine hospitality of its inhabitants, as the entire land is protected between the hills and the mythical Sirens of the ocean- Palinuro and Elea.

Since 1998, the National Park of Cilento, Vallo di Diano and Alburni are recognized and protected by UNESCO: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/842
At one time, Cilento was as desired by foreigners as America was by Italian immigrants: identified as part of the Greek Magna, and specifically within the ancient city of Elea, it represented the dream of the young Athenian aristocrats, motivated by the famous teachings of Parmenides and the Eleatics, pioneers of philosophy and the fundamental contribution to the evolution of Western thought.

At one point in time, thousands of Cilentani chased the Atlantic horizon, driven not only by necessity and need but also by a platonic instinct and humble hopes for a better life; hence, ‘the bi-Dream Cilento: “In less than fifteen years [1901-1915], nearly sixty thousand people have arrived in the US from the Cilento, never to return again: a huge number compared to the population of that time. To this sum, one must add several thousand immigrants who, after a period of stay, wanted or were able to to return their way back home. ” (translated from www.passatoinretepresente.it: an interesting source of information and documents, see the attached).

And what about the extraordinary Americans who have been to Cilento? Along with the Yankee troops who landed in Salerno in September 1943 under the command of General Clark, there was Ernest Hemingway. In 1952, the famous writer resided in Acciaroli, a coastal town of Cilento. With the horizon of the sea adorned with Punta Licosa, charmed by the songs of Homeric mermaids, and in the company of whiskey,and Uncle Antonio, an experienced fisherman, with all of the port of “U ‘Viecchiu”, this vision inspired ” the Old Man and the Sea “, which was published in December of that same year.

During that same period of the Second World War, there was an exceptional video shot in the village of Rofrano, showcasing a beautiful strip of ancient Cilento probably in early 1944s by the Allied Administrative Military and is currently kept in the archives of the San Diego Air and Space Museum in California (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFGBKFO8L3k).

Finally, the young Americans who have helped to liberate the Cilento from the clutches of Hitler were given the famous K diet, named after its creator Ancel Keys. With his inseparable wife Margaret,  in 1967 Keys settled in the Cilento, Pioppi, where he had purchased the renamed holdings of Minnelea.

The Keys revolutionized the studies on nutrition, showing that health, culture and knowledge are a decisive factor in health along with genetics and heredity. Keys, known in the US as Mr. Cholesterol, coined the phrase the Mediterranean Diet in 2010, in the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity (http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/en/RL/mediterranean-diet-00884).

Recently, the University of San Diego started to research the process of aging and has chosen Cilento as the subject of their own studies as my town is a great example of longevity, being that its territory is home to over three hundred centenarians (https://www.youtube. com / watch? v = qOco354_dpk & t = 4

Warm Italian wishes, 

Toni 

 

Toni Viterale: https://twitter.com/ToniViterale 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/youcilento/

Please check out his site: https://m.facebook.com/sentieriincampania


Born in Vallo Della Lucania in 1982, Toni Viterale was the mayor of the picturesque commune of Rofrano, in the province of Salerno. One of the youngest mayors ever to occupy that position, Toni, who currently resides in Rofrano, worked hard while in political office to raise awareness about the environment and tackle on complex issues such as immigration and unemployment.

After Viterale left the political arena, he has remained active in the community. He is now the project director of an insurance company, and is busy working on three local programs: S.E.nT.I.eRi in Campania amd SEnT.I.eRi dell’Arte , “We work on the development of rural areas and integrate the younger generation into all these activiities. ”Take P.Art!” is an international cultural exange that promotes art and human rights.

Toni has studied politics, law and English and has written extensively about politics and the environment. As a featured writer for Internationally Known, Toni will write about life in the Southern regions of Italy, culture and politics. His articles will be both in English and Italian.

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