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Cetraro, sunsets among cedars and 'nduja

There is a village in the Aude Languedoc overlooking the estuary and the Gulf of Lions Serignan, with its square shaded by lime trees and the pétanque pitch where, everywhere you turn, you find someone who comes from Cetraro. Old mémé selling fruit and vegetables sunny doorway of the house, young second and third generation who continue the family tradition of the mason though maybe half-giants are now building.

Finally offshore boats with fishermen who supply day after day their huge fishmongers and their restaurants. The beauty is that every year they organize one or two buses to get home, in the land of their ancestors, from where they fled from poverty and wars. And they have good wave. Why Cetraro is beautiful: an ancient medieval village twined up the hill, the maze of alleyways that overlook the Tyrrhenian Calabria immediately below where you turn a placid sea and shining with the port.

It has ancient origins: it was probably the first city bruzia of coastline. The historic center is a hive of narrow streets, arches and fascinating views. Access is marked by three massive doors: Sea, Bass and Sopra, which testify to the time when it was a fortified stronghold. Some of the main monuments are located in squares with evocative names: “giorgia”, once the seat of the market, “miezzu in curta ‘at the center of the old village.

The Authentic 'Nduja of Spilinga 2
Cetraro was donated by the Duchess Sichelgaita, the second wife of Robert Guiscard, Abbot Desiderius of Monte Cassino IV Epiphanes, to thank the good offices provided by the latter in Melfi, when the Normans were reconciled with the Pope Leo IX. From 1086 to 1810 was therefore governed by the Benedictines of Montecassino.

The cult of Saint Benedict is indeed for cetraresi a millenary tradition. Every July 11 his statue is carried in procession down the hill to the dock and then deposited on the larger boat. Hence part of a sacred race for the waves of Cosenza alongside with hundreds of fishing boats in forming a crown approaching to land, on the way back, to the village of San Marco and Lampetia to over the promontory of Capofella.

After the procession between the waves, the saint is shown with his arms up to his church where Mass is celebrated. In the evening, the concert takes place in Piazza del Popolo and at midnight they are fired thousand fires festive. In the two previous days, to heat the feast of the patron, turns on a noisy race between the districts of the country, with people swarming everywhere, with their own colors, clothes and flags after a long and meticulous preparations which in practice last all the ‘ year.

Almost certainly the name Cetraro was caused by the production of cedar from the surrounding countryside, but there are those who wanted to reconnect the name to the river that crosses its territory Aron (Aron or Citra Citra-Rivum). The City is now divided into Upper Cetraro and the modern village of San Marco in the sea, founded by a committee Veneto (hence the name) after the earthquake of 1905.


Walking in Cetraro old is not only a pleasure for the eye, but also for the sense of smell. In fact, the mixed scent of cedar so intense that it gave its name to the coast, insinuate themselves everywhere the aroma and fragrance of a kitchen very aromatic wafting from the doors almost permanently open or half-closed since the climate is mild even in winter.

But, apart from fresh fish (especially yellowtail and bass) and shellfish made in a thousand ways of the south, there is a typical specialty cetrarese, except maybe the fried cod and spaghetti with anchovies and breadcrumbs. Here in fact the most popular dishes are those of the Calabrian cuisine.

Among the first: the pasta, pasta with potatoes (ara tijeddra), potatoes and peppers, broccoli rabe and sausage, noodles and chickpeas. Also try the fresh pasta with mushrooms Sila. Among the latter: ciambotta based green pumpkin, zucchini, yellow peppers, (the local variant is spicy, shaped oblong called “vajanella”), potatoes, eggplant, onions, virgin olive oil, garlic, hot pepper (the arsonists’ piparielli “), tomatoes and oregano. Sometimes we add the eggs.

For an aperitif or to end the meal: the cuddrurieddi, pretzels and prepared for the anniversary of the Immaculate Conception for the Christmas period, the turdiddri, made with anise, honey and sugar glaze. Traditional sweets are also mostaccioli, buns made from honey bee or of figs, cooked must, flour and almonds.

Finally, to remember that in the summer from the port of Cetraro mini cruises start at 12 hours by hydrofoil to the Aeolian Islands with a visit to Stromboli and Lipari. And in the surrounding area there are miles and miles of pristine beaches.

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