Friday, 18 April 2008

Agriturismo in Pisciotta

Where the sea meets the sky; the roads wind up and around mountains; Greek temples are dotted everywhere, and agriturismo is the word of the moment.

Just 100 km south of Naples is Cilento, second largest Italian national park and UNESCO World Cultural Heritage in the world, this is where you will find the most beautiful village of Pisciotta and perched on the very edge of the mountain was our hotel – a 'Machina la locanda del fiume.

Pretending we lived there permanently for a week wasn't hard at all. This was our dream home and is very special to our family because this is where my brother and his new wife were married by the town Mayor. The locals were wary of us, but we amused them with our appauling Italian (I'm sure I wished someone merry Christmas in May).
Pisciotta is an agriturismo village which means that it is a farming area, and wherever possible everything on the menu in the restaurants and at the hotels is produced locally even down to the olive oil. The above image is one of the rooms in the main house of the old mill at Locanda.

At Locanda del Fiume I requested fresh fruit for breakfast. On the first morning while everyone filled up on pastries and rolls, I was presented with a massive bowl of blood red strawberries. From that day on, everyone else requested the strawberries and ditched the bread. We ate at Locanda on our first evening and also for the wedding dinner. Our host Sonia made me wheat and gluten free spaghetti with fresh mussels and tomatoes. The spaghetti wasn't freshly made, but it was cooked really well. If you don't know how to cook WF/GF pasta, then it can become a bit of a mess. Pisciotta’s gastronomy is truly delicious. A favoured dish is the ciauledda, prepared with paprika, aubergines, French beans, potatoes, tomatoes, onion and basil and the tasty olive oil. In Marina di Pisciotta they prepare the cauraru, a mixture of fish and vegetables and the insalata di alici di Menaide (a salad with anchovies), whose name derives from the special fishing net that is used for the traditional anchovy fishing: the menaica.

According to the local tradition, Pisciotta dishes include homemade pasta: lasagne, cavatielli, tagliolini, ravioli. Another local speciality is the preparation of preserved products, in particular the girls of the village are very good at preparing the salted anchovies which are put in precious earthenware pots; they also preserve tunny (tuna) in olive oil and pickle aubergines, mushrooms, artichokes, peppers and tomatoes.

The processing of pork meat into hams, sausages, sopressate and capicoclli (different kinds of salami) is exclusively an occupation of the village’s men. Of course all these dishes, made with genuine products, have a common ingredient – and that is the delicious extra-virgin olive oil. This oil is particularly tasty since it is produced in rich, untouched earth.

We drove to Pisciotta from Rome. However if you don't take the car you will be able to get to this village by Eurostar train from Rome to Naples, then a change to a local train that will take you into the Pisciotta-Palinuro station at the bottom of the mountain. Your hotel will be able to arrange a taxi to collect you, or the hotel may even arrange for a driver to collect you and your luggage.