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Old tower, Santa Maria Del Cedro
by Jesse Andrews

A view of Santa Maria Del Cedro
by Jesse Andrews

View of the castle ruin, Santa Maria Del Cedro by Jesse Andrews




Most photos on VisitsItaly are by Jesse Andrews. Please Contact VisitsItaly.Com for reproduction of any kind at:

Welcome to Santa Maria del Cedro
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 4,828 (2003)
Official site:

The territory surrounding the small village of Santa Maria Del Cedro was originally occupied by the Enotrians, the earliest of the Italic tribes that modern archaeologists have found evidence of in the area. The name "Enotria", which derives from the Greek word for wine, is the root word for modern day Italy (Italia).

The village of Santa Maria and its surrounding territory has been a pivotal excavation site for archaeologists, anthropologists and historians who have worked together to unravel the mysteries of Italy's origins.  The ruins and artefacts that are being slowly uncovered through years of painstaking work are answering old questions but are also raising new ones.

The lush Enotrian territory is a short distance from the Laos River, where as early as 1115 BC, the Lucanian and  Brutium tribal groups sustained themselves with agricultural activities.  In those days, the Laos  was a wild, fresh river with its source waters in the nearby mountains.

Archaeological evidence suggests Enotria area was infiltrated by the survivors of the town of Sybarus on the Gulf of Taranto, which was utterly destroyed by the Crotons in 510 BC.

A large fortress ruin, nearly on the scale of the City of Pompeii, has been discovered and is still undergoing extensive excavation and research.  It seems clear that the area was extremely important as a defensive position and a center of trade.

The people of the area withstood hundreds of years of hostilities in the area. However, they ultimately came under the rule of Hannibal the Great.  Hannibal's rule was overthrown when the tribes in the Laos River territory formed the Italiota Lega - league of Italians - with the Romans and defeated Hannibal in 389 BC.

The Romans asserted their rule over the area until the 6th Century BC.  As the Roman Empire began to faulter due to the Barbarian invasions from the North, and weakening administrative infrastructure, the Byzantines were eventually able to take over the area.

The Byzantines constructed numerous towers, castles, churches and fortresses, the ruins of which are visible to this day throughout the Cedri Riviera. The most spectacular is the ruin of a Byzantine castle which overlooks the vineyards and olive groves around Santa Maria, and from which one can see the distant Mediterranean Sea.

If one visits the Town Hall one can see two enormous frescoes that used to adorn the Byzantine abbey within the castle precincts.  If you visit the Town Hall, just ask the clerk to see them.

The Byzantines, in turn, were overtaken by succeeding armies and their empires.  The area was invaded by the Normans on their way to and from the Crusades, and eventually came under the hand of the "royal" families who came to dominate the entire Calabrian peninsula south of the Bay of Naples, and then the modern day Italian government.

Santa Maria Del Cedro, steeped in history and at one time an important trade and fortifying position, is now a tranquil village.  Local industry is almost entirely agricultural, with the primary crop being Cedro a unique citrus-fruit plant.  The Cedro plantís flowers are used to make many commercial perfumes and are exported all over the world

The areaís farmers also harvest olives, grapes and figs, which are the basic ingredients for the area's wonderful culinary specialities
that visitors can sample at a handful of  restaurants located in the town's centre.

Santa Maria Del Cedro, if not a destination tourist spot, is a wonderful place to pass through, if only to catch a glimpse of its long and unique history.  You will find a modern Itallic community, but one whose ways have persisted from long before the birth of Christ. 

Region of Calabria

The Cedri Riviera







Limes, Santa Maria Del Cedro
by Jesse Andrews


Tell us about your trip to Santa Maria del Cedro.  What were your favorite places to visit, stay, and dine.  Talk Italy Forum