South of Salerno, a large area known as
Cilento National Park, the second largest in Italy, is the preferred destination for nature lover, hikers, and
This Cilento is not known to the international tourist, even
though was selected as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage of Mankind.
The coast is indented by small coves and the green emerald
sea is clear, fishing is plentiful.
The hinterland is rich with orange and lemon groves, wild flowers cover the hills and the planes produce cereals
and legumes in abundance.
You will be delighted to discover small villages, with small pensioni, similar to
boarding houses, and small trattorie, family run eateries
serving exceptional seafood and the local specialties. Dr. Keys loved this area for the environment or for the
genuine and sincere hospitality that the Cilento offers or maybe because he enjoyed the rustic and plain cooking
made with fresh and wholesome provisions.
The town of Paestum
is twenty five miles south of
Salerno. It was founded in the VII century BC by colonists from Greece. The Doric temples and the many artifacts attract
tourists and art scholars.
Ancel Keys a physiologist from the University of Minnesota, commissioned by the US Army to developed a light and
portable individual food package made of non perishable provisions, containing three meals, breakfast, lunch and
dinner, that would provide an adequate amount of energy and fulfill the hunger of the combat soldiers. Dr. Keys
developed a food package called K-rations in his honor. When Dr. Keys was in Salerno with the Army, he noticed that
the inhabitants in the city and surrounding area were healthy and lived a longer life. He also noticed that the
cardiovascular and gastrointestinal diseases were almost not existent. He compared the local diet, consisting
mostly of legumes, vegetables, fruits, pasta, bread and olive oil, and the American diet containing large amounts
of red meat and animal fats; he deducted that in the USA the high mortality rate and the heart diseases were caused
by the cholesterol and by the non saturated fats.
After further studies in the island of Crete, in Spain and in other countries in the Mediterranean basin, Dr. Keys
concluded that the use of olive oil and eating in moderation legumes, vegetables, fruits, pasta, bread, and fish
was healthy, good in preventing heart and stomach diseases and in the weight control: the Mediterranean Diet was
Dr. Keys loved the province of Salerno where he spent most of the last forty years of his life. He lived in Pioppi,
a small coastal village in the Cilento about fifty miles south of Salerno, and hard to find on the map.