Saturday, June 9, 2012

Unlocking the Secrets of Campania

  The beautiful town of Agerola, province of Naples.

 The region of Campania includes some very famous places: the Amalfi Coast, the island of Capri and the cities of Naples and Sorrento. Not only are they beautiful and the favored destination of generations of celebrities, but even songs are written about them. Yet in some ways, they are victims of their popularity. They are quite crowded at certain times of the year and, to one extent or another, certain shops and restaurants can have a ‘touristy’ feel. But there is another side to Campania, a gentler, more spacious side. Small towns with their own traditions, cuisine and wine are nestled in the region’s hills and valleys. Many of these areas were the birthplaces of our Italian-American ancestors in the provinces of Avellino, Benevento, Caserta and Salerno. For example, in Salerno you can discover Roscigno Vecchio, locally referred to as ‘the town that walks’. Landslides have hit Roscigno Vecchio many times during its history, forcing the complete evacuation of its historical center to alternative locations. But its inhabitants moved en masse and rebuilt, while striving to preserve as many structures as possible. The latest evacuation occurred in the 20th century. The town is now considered an eco-museum dedicated to Italian life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is located within a National Park and the Cilento World Heritage Site.

Stopping for a drink in Roscigno Vecchio. 

While you’re in Salerno, be sure to taste the soppressata, the tasty local salami and Mozzarella nella Mortella cheese. Primarily made in the small rural village of Novi Velia, it is made of cow’s milk flavored with myrtle leaves. You can always venture into the town of Agerola in the Province of Naples. Agerola is part of a nature reserve, the Latteri Mountains Park, and the starting point of the Trail of the Gods (Sentiero Degli Dei). This route affords uninterrupted, spectacular views of Praiano, Positano, Capri and Cilento. On the way, snack on Vesuvius Piennolo Tomatoes, grown on the foothills of the famous volcano. These small cherry tomatoes are some of the oldest agricultural products in Campania. You can often see them reproduced in woven baskets in the classic Neapolitan presepi. Of course, you’ll need cheese for your journey, so why not try Fiordilatte or Provolone del Monaco, two of Campania’s best cheese varieties? And what about the wine? The province of Benevento boasts the playful Falanghina, while Caserta offers Pallangrello and Casavecchia grapes, both harvested from the oldest cultivated indigenous vines in the region. Round out your impromptu picnic with chestnuts, honey, cherries and olive oil. No wonder Italians eat dinner so late in the day.

                                              Campolattaro, province of Benevento.

 These are only a few of the discoveries waiting to be uncovered in the quietly beautiful towns of Campania. And the Region of Campania would like to help you get the most out of your experience. Visit for more highlights and suggested itineraries. Buon viaggio!