Every inhabitant of every single region of Italy will lay claim to having the best food of Italy, and who could argue with them! However they all tend to forget that Cilento is renowned as the ‘garden of Italy'.
As Campania’s largest city, it’s no surprise that Neapolitan cooking traditions have greatly influenced the specialities that you’ll find across the region.
Peperoncino reigns, fresh seafood is abundant and the pizza is to die for. Campania is also home to the gorgeous Sorrento Peninsula, home of Limoncello.
Understandably, all manner of fish is the local staple. However, if you venture inland in the provinces of Salerno, Avellino, Benevento and Caserta, the focus changes from mare (the sea) to terra (the earth). A day’s drive in Campania can take you from fresh caught seafood to wild boar in the mountains.
And of course you are in the heart of Buffalo Mozzarella country. It’s one of the regions most famous products and everywhere you will see the roadside sign “Caseificio” or dairy, selling freshly made mozzarella and of course its many, many derivatives - try Scamorza!
Probably one of the oldest established mozzarella farms is close to Il Rifugio is Tenuta Vannulo; not only can you witness the famous cheeses being made, but also you can get up close with the buffaloes that gave their milk to make it, see the “maternity” ward with new born calves and best of all dine in the fabulous restaurant or indulge in their gelateria, - yes buffalo ice cream! Tenuta Vannulo is just 15 minutes from Il Rifugio and don’t have more than 2 scoops!
The Antica Pizzeria Via Port’Alba in the heart of the old quarter of Naples was founded in 1738 and claims to be the oldest pizzeria in the world But you haven’t tasted pizza until you've tasted Cilentan pizza. Made from an ancient recipe dating back to Roman times, using four different flours that produce the thinnest, lightest pizza you will ever eat. The great news is you don’t have to travel to Naples to eat it - no more than 750 metres from Il Rifugio up the hill towards Ogliastro Cilento is “La Civetta” a restaurant owned and run by Alfonsina and her son, the adorable Emiliano. We give this the highest possible recommendation for its food hospitality and million dollar views across the bay of Salerno. Try Francesco’s Aphrodite pizza.
Pasta, Pasta, Pasta
It is estimated that there are approximately 350 different types of pasta - and about four times that many names for them! This is due to the fact that some types may have different names and often names vary according to the region or area.
Pasta shapes are specifically designed to hold the sauce in the best way possible. Many regions have created their own pasta shapes: for example, bigoli (thick, noodle-like spaghetti) are from Veneto; strozzapreti (meaning, ‘priest strangler’) are from Emilia-Romagna; trofie (perfect with pesto) are from Liguria, and orecchiette (or, ‘little ears’) are from Puglia. Cavatielli is a Cilentan favourite
Maybe its because of the endless miles of coastline, maybe its because of the azure seas or maybe its because of all of the 'cucina povera' of ordinary folk that has provided the most varied and incredibly fresh and delectable seafood dishes in all of Italy. From the famous spaghetti alle vongole, to the weird exotic local onion fish - the number of places to enjoy great seafood is endless.