Santa Maria del Cedro, Italy: visit the highlights of Santa Maria del Cedro

Photo of Santa Maria del Cedro (Calabria region)

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Visit Santa Maria del Cedro

The town of Santa Maria del Cedro is situated in the Calabria region to the south of Italy. It is also associated with the very ancient town of Laos that existed here in ancient Greek times.

Explore Santa Maria del Cedro

Your visit to Santa Maria del Cedro can start with the ruins of Laos, the importance of which has been emphasized by many scholars, according to whom the modern small town of Santa Maria del Cedro occupies the lower part of the hill (with Laos further up the hill).

Archaeological Park of Laos

Archaeological studies had long discussed the position of Laos, based on the writings of Strabo 2200 years ago. Edward Galli began a rescue operation on the hill of Marcellina, where blocks appeared that belonged to an ancient quadrangular fortified town. Galli pointed out that he discovered the habitat of “Lavinium Bruttiorum.”

According to Galli, in fact, Laos, a colony of Sybaris and then a Lucanian city from the 4th century BC, was situated on the right bank of the river, probably on the hill called "Foresta" ( See “Marcellina (Laos). Dix ans de recherche. Un bilan préliminaire”, in “Mélanges de l'Ecole française de Rome. Antiquité”, Année 1986, Volume 98 , Numéro 98-1, pp. 101-128).

The Archaeological Park of Laos covers an area of about 60 hectares and is certainly the main area of historical and cultural interest of the entire territory of the Upper Tyrrenian Sea. The area is fenced off, with a small museum (Antiquarium) which exhibits artefacts found during the excavations.

Other highlights in Santa Maria del Cedro

Also interesting is the “Museo del Cedro” where there is culture, art and history of this citrus fruit, which is strong linked to the city's economy.

The Castle of Abatemarco, takes a visitor back to the origins of Santa Maria del Cedro. The rock on which it stands was conquered by the Normans in 1060, but before that there was an Abbey. In St. Michael's Church, adjacent to the castle, two frescoes were found, probably dating to the 15th century.

The castle and the restoration of the church of S. Michele have been carried out to aid local tourism and these beautiful frescoes, now detached from the walls and restored, are now placed in the Town Hall of St. Maria del Cedro. They represent St. Sebastian, who is tied to a tree trunk while an angel surrounds the head of the crown of martyrdom, and a Madonna and Child: two frescoes of religious character performed according to the classical models of Romanesque and Byzantine style.

The famous watch towers of Norman origin are still well preserved. Watch towers were certainly built as an effective tool for the safety of the city, and they functioned as fortifications, connected to each other by underground tunnels.

In closing we should mention that Santa Maria del Cedro is so named for the cultivation of citron trees. According to authoritative studies, the tree:

"is probably native to the regions in the North-East of India from where it was introduced by Jews in the Greek colonies of Magna Graecia [...] and the municipality most affected by this crop is S. Maria del Cedro, with a total area of about 25 hectares" (See “La coltura del cedro in Calabria”, in “Rivista di frutticoltura e di ortofloricoltura”, 2002, p. 68).

See also history of Santa Maria del Cedro

You can find more local travel ideas in the Calabria guide.

See also:

Map of Santa Maria del Cedro and places to visit

Places to visit near Santa Maria del Cedro

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