Countless cultural events, traditional festivities and religious ceremonies fascinate many visitors.
Every one of the 200 mostly medieval Cilento villages, for instance, has its village saint, its patron, which it praises once a year in a big celebration. Likewise, Scario celebrates its Sant’Anna and Marina di Camerota its San Domenico.
In August, the inhabitants of Pisciotta celebrate the saint Sant’Aniello in return for his wonders. He is considered one of the patron saints of the village with its 2,000 souls. The highlight of the festivities of several days’ duration with fireworks and folk music is a church service in the Chiesa Madre, the main church. Afterwards the believers march through the alleys of Pisciotta: the procession is led by women carrying candles, le cinte, on their heads – thus thanking the saint and pleading him to continue looking after them. Those having to repent are walking barefooted the entire way.
In the year 1951, fishermen went to sea to collect their nets. But suddenly the sky turned dark, a storm arose, the sea grew wild. After hours of great fear and errantry without light, a boy who was on board suddenly saw a monk walking over the water with a lantern. He led them from the tempest safely to the coast, where they were already eagerly awaited by friends and relatives. Afterwards, in the chapel of the harbour, the boy recognized the statue of S. Antonio: “This is the man who led us out of the sea!” Ever since, Palinuro celebrates its saint S. Antonio each year on September 25th.
On Good Friday in many villages processions take place, just like in Pisciotta. Here, hundreds of believers – led by a laymen’s brethren, escorted by a highly venerated statue of the Virgin Mary and grave music – from the church of SS. Pietro e Paolo to the chapel Il Calvario.
The most important festivity of Christianity is finally celebrated by the Southern Italians with an abundant meal, prepared from goatling and lamb meat. Of course the Easter cake pastiera and the dough pastry pasta frolla must not be missed. But to Easter Sunday also belongs the visit to the ancestors and the care of the graves. A real family celebration finally is Easter Monday, la pasquetta: a trip into nature is mandatory. Not a single picnic spot remains unclaimed, when families fan out and populate the most beautiful places along the coast, on Monte Cervati or Monte Sacro.
The Cilento Christams until today has remained not only a family festivity, but a celebration of the entire village. Thus, the inhabitants of the approximately 200 Cilento villages carry together large logs in their village square. The logs are erected in a circle and lit after the Christmas Mass. The Christmas fire represents to the believers an act of purification, of cleansing.In many Cilento villages traditions come alive on Christmas: just think of the pasticelli from Pollica (star-shaped flaky pastry) or the “pig slaughter”, l’uccisione del maiale – in former times a ritual with sayings and incantations. In the mountain village of Laurino the families come together on Christmas Eve for the “stella di natale”. This ancient rite consists of 12 dishes, based upon the months of the year, and a tea made from laurel leafs. A special Christmas tradition can be found almost every year in San Severino. In the middle of the last century the inhabitants abandoned their village above the “Devil’s Gorge” to populate the valley. But once a year they return to the ghost town with its medieval castle and the partly still preserved residential buildings to present a presepe vivente, a living nativity scene.
Apart from the religious ceremonies the Cilento visitor can also look forward to traditional village festivals, fairs, dance nights, musical events, art and theatre.
During the popular “sagra dei prodotti tipici” in San Nicola (Centola), for instance, typical Cilento products and specialties are offered by the locals.