Pioppi, founded around 994 a.C., took its name from its great number of poplars (Pioppi, in Italian). This small town is today part of the Cilento and Vallo di Diano and Alburni National Park, belonging to the District (in Italian, Provincia) of Salerno.
Pioppi is situated at the base of the mountainside Mount Stella. Its image is reflected by the pure waters of the sea once sailed by Ulysses and Aeneas. On the opposite side of the same gulf, about 18 miles away, is Cape Palinuro, named after a helmsman of Aeneas. The ruins of ancient Elea (today known as Velia) are only 4 miles away; this was the town which saw the birth of the important philosophical school founded and led by Parmenides (515-450 b. C), who influenced Plato.
The cleanliness of the sea and the beauty of the seashore made Pioppi one of the most popular bathing resorts of the whole Cilento. Pioppi was awarded the so-called Blue Flag certifying the cleanliness of the seas along its Italian coast, and also another important prize, the so-called 5 Flags. Here in Pioppi we still are free of pollution, and preserve our ancient environment, made up not only of blue sea, but also of green hills covered by century old olive trees. Historical and popular traditions, too, are proudly kept alive by our people.
Westward from Pioppi, at the mouth of the Mortella River, you’ll find Porto del Fico, a natural roadstead, an ancient Greek (and then Roman) landing place considered by historians to have been the safest one in the Tyrrenian Sea. Following the Mortella river upstream, passing through a double line of cane thickets still dominated by poplars, moving under the arches of the “Ponte Rosso” (The Red Bridge), one can reach an old millwheel. This is where the river forks and creates two valleys which both lead straight to the foot hills of Mount Stella. The unpolluted environment and the quiet here have created a promised land for naturalists and hikers.
Pioppi’s seashore is dominated above by the Vinciprova family’s 17th century castle, nowadays base of the “Museum of the Sea” and the “Museum of the Mediterranean Diet”. The latter is dedicated to the memory of Professor Ancel Keys, the father of the present-day worldwide recognition of the Mediterranean Diet which he identified and studied during his 40 year stay in Pioppi. On November 16th, 2010, the Mediterranean Diet was listed by UNESCO as a World Immaterial Heritage.