Campania & Naples in the Spring
26 - 30 March 2008
This new itinerary explores Campania, staying on the bay of Naples convenient for our wine visits here and in Naples itself. The viticultural heartland of Campania is just inland from the volcano of Vesuvius. Here we find the excellent wines of Taurasi, Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino, and well as traditional wines such as Asprino di Aversa and Lacryma Cristi. We will discover dynamic, good estates with interesting and complex wines.
The cuisine of Campania is what comes to most people’s mind when they think of Italian food – tomato and olive oil based dishes, delightful fish dishes, mozzarella, a wide variety of antipasti plus spagetti and pizza. With basic ingredients of great quality, the local cuisine is simple, letting the primary flavours shine through. The Amalfitano coastline is brimming with lemon groves and restaurants in the region sometimes present menus based entirely around lemons.
The wines are stangely overshadowed, but it wasn’t always so. For the Romans, Campania was where many of their ‘Grand Crus’ came from. Falernum, the greatest of all, and Caecubum were from just north of the Bay of Naples, and the wines of Pompeii and Surrentinium (Sorrento) were highly esteemed too. Our tour includes a visit to the Villa dei Mistieri on the outskirts of Pompeii, where we see the frescos showing an initiation ceremony into the rites of Bacchus. The villa even had its own winery which we visit too.
The wines of the beautiful island of Ischia have also been more important in the past than now. It was one of the earliest Greek setlements in Italy (in the 8th century BC) and one of the first places where wine was made in Italy. Ischia was also the second region in Italy to be awarded DOC (denominazione di Origine controllata). The whites which we taste on our visit here are perfumed and crisp yet full flavoured and complex.
At the region’s heart is the city of Naples. There is nowhere else quite like Naples with it’s ebullient attitude to life. It is a vibrant, bustling and chaotic city, though it has has been cleaned up in the last 10 years, and the old reputation is now a memory. The old centre of Naples with its palaces, cog railways, great opera house, churches, piazzas and alleyways is quite compact. It easy and rewarding to explore with cafes and gelaterias to slow you down and some things not to miss such as the excellent Archeological Museum.