Cuccaro Vetere is a humble hill town resting in the folds of the inland part of the Cilento National Park. The town has Greek origins as testified by its name, "Kyclos" which means "fortified compound." Its history was indeed one of fortification, as the original castle and tower served as a defensive lookout point for the coastal city of Velia. Today, the crumbling remains of the castle and tower lend a mysterious air to the village's skyline. Pieces of the old defensive wall are still intact, too.
Cuccaro Vetere is a rural village where time stands still, preserving its old traditions and giving visitors a glimpse of the past in its peaceful mountain setting. Chestnuts and woodlands bounty such as mushrooms, truffles and wild strawberries are area staples. There are excellent artisanal salamis, sausages, and cheeses in this area.
The main streets of Cuccaro Vetere are endowed with aristocratic palaces, testimony to its era as feudal holding when the nobility divided up the southern territories. Stroll around the historic center to see the once-grand mansions in Via Salita Castello, Via Fausto Laviano, Via Ancelle di S. Teresa and Via Convento, as well as in Piazza Umberto I.
A not-to-miss event is the parade known as the ‘Palio del Ciuccio’ which is held in mid-August. The so-called "race of the mules" is a colorful reenactment of peasant life, with music, traditional foods and a costumed parade. The mule was an important aspect of rural life and the only means of transport in these mountain communities. Mule tracks connected the villages to each other and to the towns on the coast, moving goods and people and providing maintained footpaths through the woods. The Palio del Ciuccio pays homage to the lowly mule and its significant role in the rural landscape.
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