Cilento is the sub-region to the south of Campania, in the province of Salerno, a natural reserve declared World Heritage by UNESCO for the protection of biodiversity.
An ancient land, the Cilento is an authentic treasure chest … mountains, fine sandy beaches, cliffs, headlands, natural caves carved into the limestone, ancient villages and rolling hills covered with vineyards and olive trees that are reflected in the blue of the Mar Tirreno.
And it is here in the Cilento, a crossroads of peoples and traditions, that the American Ancel Keys, a medical epidemiologist and physiologist, discovered that his populations were among the most long-lived and least exposed to diseases, attributing the cause to their diet which he defined Mediterranean diet (today UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage).
A healthy and balanced nutrition from the nutritional point of view, consisting mainly of seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains, wine, bluefish and of the extra virgin olive oil, the main food of the Mediterranean Diet, identified with a real lifestyle that includes social, traditional and agricultural practices.
Sant’Angelo a Fasanella, a small medieval village situated at 520 mt. on the sea, it is placed partly on the piedmont strip and partly rests directly on a limestone strip of the Alburni Mountains massif. The village, now the residence of a few souls mainly devoted to agriculture and rural tourism, is rich in history and works of art and boasts two sites protected by UNESCO: the Cave of San Michele Arcangelo and the Antece.
La Grotta – Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo develops into two large atriums with a natural dome. In the first is a square-based well decorated with small Neapolitan ceramic tiles from 1614 and the sign of the Caracciolo family who held the fief of Sant’Angelo a Fasanella in the 1500s. In the dynasty of the well-known family, famous abbots followed one after the other, placing the funerary monument of one of them, the abbot Gianfrancesco Caracciolo (1538), inside the cave.
A little further on, on the left there is a tunnel communicating with the external environments, the Campanile and the Abbey of the Benedictine monks.
On the opposite side of the tunnel there is an altar dedicated to the Immaculate Conception and a little further on, a plaster statue of the Virgin and Child (1300) and a frescoed aedicule, inside which there is another Madonna and child in stucco ( 1400).
In the other atrium, on the back wall, stands the rich marble altar with the statue of St. Michael the Archangel, also in marble, attributed to a sculptor particularly present in the Cilento area, Giacomo Colombo, a Venetian but from the Neapolitan school (1600).
Behind the altar, on the natural rock, the two wings of the Archangel are painted and, to the left, there is a small cavity filled with water to which popular devotion attributes miraculous properties, the so-called Manna di San Michele.
Antece (IV-V Sec. a. C.)
The rock sculpture depicting a warrior or a deceased hero is 1125 meters high on the summit of Costa Palomba and is 4 km from the town. On a large limestone slab a personage about 140 cm tall is carved which makes a broad gesture with his arms: hold with his right hand raised up a spear at the base of which there is a round shield and with the left facing down an object that probably it is a short sword. The robe is tight at the waist with a belt from which a sheath hangs.
From the central Piazza Ortale winds a historical-cultural itinerary of considerable interest; among the alleys of the historic center, rich in portals and decorations of ancient art, the Church “Madre” of Santa Maria Maggiore (1500) and the Castle of the Federician era emerge. From the door to the south of the historic center, along the old “Pescatura” road, now a valid route for trekking and mountain biking, you reach the naturalistic area of the “Auso” springs which, after an underground path, come out giving rise to the waterfalls of river “Fasanella”.