Buffalo at Vannulo
Santa Maria di Castellabate
Amalfi Coast & Cilento - Food & Wines of Southern Italy
7 - 12 April 2014
Over the course of this relaxing week-long holiday you’ll visit a range of artisanal food and drinks producers to experience the best of the Food & Wines of the Amalfi Coast and the Cilento Reserve. Including a producer of the fruity alcoholic lemon liquer, limoncello; the leading organic buffalo mozzarella farm, traditional fig producers (who are keeping this ancient and delicious fruit variety alive), an organic olive oil mill and of course, Arblaster & Clarke wine tours’ selection of top wine producers too. Our April 2013 date sold out quickly, so to register your interest please see details of the tour in 2014
For the first few days we stay in a tiny village perched in the hills above Amalfi, which is known as “Citta Dipinta” (literally the painted town) due to the many paintings that adorn the local houses. From here, you’ll visit our selection of wine estates in Ravello and other hilltop villages overlooking the Amalfi Bay that show the revival of quality wines on this coast.
The Sorrento Peninsula has a long history of wine making, highly regarded by the Romans and was a major source of wine in Campania in the middle ages. Unfortunately, by the C20th, the reputation and probably the quality of wine had sunk to an all time low.
However, forgotten wine areas can contain all the elements to give greatness once again, and the Costa Amalfitana, perhaps due to its remoteness, seems not to have had phylloxera and as a result, it still has a large number of unique, indigenous grape varieties.
In red varieties, as well as the excellent Aglianico and the fruity Piedirosso, we find Tronto, (tannic and similar to Aglianico), the dark, high acid Tintore, Sciascinoso (locally called Olivella and also very dark in colour) and Serpentaria (about which little is known).
The exciting, lively white wines offer original aromas (tangarine, lemon sherbet & broom) and are best enjoyed young. The local grape varieties include Falanghina (locally called Biancozita), Biancolella (locally called Biancatenera), Pepella (subject to Coulure, but giving a super-fresh lemon-sherbert taste), Ginestra (nice floral aromas), Ginestrella (which may or may not be the same), Fenile (exotic citrus fruit) and Ripoli (again subject to Coulure and also with an exotic fruity taste).
The guesthouse, where we stay for the first few days, belongs to the family of Marisa Cuomo, whose wine cellars are just opposite. Here they are making some stunning whites from local varieties. Tim Clarke and Lynette Arblaster first discovered these excellent wines on a research trip over six years ago and have been taking clients to visit here since. The Chef will entertain us with a cookery demonstration of tasty local dishes that you can recreate at home for friends and family.
We’ll also visit Amalfi with its stunning Duomo, reached by a steep sweeping staircase and crowned by a magnificent tiled Cupola.There’ll be time to sample ice-cream from our recommended ice-cream bar, taste the chocolates at the best café, and stock up with some of the other foodie treats from the many delicatessans.
We continue south to Santa Maria di Castellabate. This small fishing village overlooks the Gulf of Salerno, in the heart of the Cilento National Reserve in Campania. The sea is clear blue and this was Italy’s first marine reserve. Our hotel here is on the sea front and has a superb restaurant and wine list due to the owner’s passion for wine.
Many of the classic ingredients for Italian food come from Campania – buffalo mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes and olive oil. It offers cuisine that is simple, with minimal cooking to allow the natural flavours to shine through.
We spend a morning at the leading organic buffalo farm, Tenuta Vannulo. We’ll meet and learn about the animals, see how mozzarella is made and then sample their products over lunch, which will include one of the most delicious ice-cream experiences you may have ever had, made with buffalo milk on the spot – so minimal food-miles! We’ll visit an organic olive oil producer and taste what a “real” limoncello should taste like at an artisanal producer. We’ll be able to have a go at pizza throwing in the company of a “Pizzaiolo” and watch the expert before enjoying the results over lunch!
You’ll visit the two top young dynamic wine estates of the Cilento region, Luigi Maffini and De Conciliis, where you’ll taste their excellent wines made from indigenous varieties such as Fiano and Aglianico.
As well as food and wine, our tour visits Paestum, one of the major historical attractions of ancient Greece. It was the ancient Greek colony of Poseidon and there are substantial remains of the 7th BC Doric temples to visit as well as an interesting museum, which houses artifacts such as the dramatic tomb paintings. On our last day we visit Herculaneum, to explore the remains of this wealthy town that has been excavated after the fatal eruption of Veusuvio in 79AD. A guided tour with a local guide is included at both sites.
Of course, for Italians food and wine are inseparable, so this is the perfect opportunity to explore the art of abbinamento – pairing the food with wines. This relaxing small group tour is packed with all the ingredients to create a truly special experience that no lover of the good life and of great food and wine should miss, so be sure to book your places early!
Cindy-Marie Harvey, who led the 2013 Amalfi Coast & Cilento trip, has written a short blog about this tour – Amalfi & Cilento: The delicious food and wine of two beautiful southern Italian regions