Campania

Explore one of the most evocative and historical regions of Italy in our Campania guide and discover the winemakers and wines in our Wine Club


Introduction & History of Campania

The name "Campania" is derived from Latin: Campania felix ("fertile countryside" or "happy countryside”). Surely most people are familiar with the 79 AD eruption of Mt. Vesuvius which decimated the surrounding area, including the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Large scale wineries were already well established by the Roman period, well evidenced by the finding of a 3rd century AD winery buried under the later eruption of Vesuvius in 472, which was capable of producing some couple hundred thousand bottles per year.

campania guide - remains of amphorae near Vesuvio

Being near the sea, this was a very important area for trade and movement of wine. The Campania region being linked with much volcanic soil which of course has proven to be an ideal soil type for making some of the most balanced and mineral driven wines.

Another wine which has made Campania so famous through the millennia is Falernum, which dates to more than 2000 years ago. This was the wine on the tables of the rich, said to be a gift from Bacchus himself, and considered to be the first ‘DOC’ if you will from the area of Falerno, rich in volcanic soil, on a hill of around 350m benefiting from the sea breezes. The varieties used to produce Falerno are Falanghina for the white wine and Primitivo, Aglianico and Piedirosso for the reds, which is still produced today.


Campania Guide - Cuisine
 

Driving from one corner to another, you can experience all realms of cuisine from the meats of the inner countryside to the abundance of fish from the sea. Campania is of course home to the famous buffalo mozzarella and the legendary invention of pizza named for Queen Margherita of Savoy in 1889, and is now the destination to eat the best 7 euro pizza that exists in the world (thank you Julia Roberts). Keep reading for our Campania guide recommendations on where to eat the best pizza.

The now staple dish outside of Italy - the Caprese salad - made with mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, was invented and named after the island of Capri (but that’s up for debate).

You’ll find Spaghetti con le vongole (spaghetti with clams) and pesce in acqua pazza, or fish in crazy water, on the Amalfi coast where locally caught fresh fish are simmered in water with garlic, tomatoes and parsley.

And the omnipresent lemons from the Amalfi coast, famously from Sorrento where they have PGI status, find their way into Limoncello, and a variety of dishes, drinks and decor in the area.

lemons in water - Campania guide

Naples is accessible from Rome in less than 90 minutes via high speed train. Getting around Naples and the local area is easy, but for remote locations we recommend renting a car. 

Naples

"See Naples and die", as the famous expression says. The origins of this phrase are up for debate, but once it was quoted by the renowned poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, it became an unofficial motto for the city. Its meaning is simple; there is no place more beautiful than Naples, so once you have visited, you can die content.

Naples was originally an ancient trading Greek colony before being assimilated by ancient Rome. It wasn't however until long after the fall of the Roman empire that it came to prominence - it was nearby Capua that was the Roman capital of the region.

During the mid 19th century Naples was at its zenith - as the capital of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, it was one of the most important cities in the Mediterranean. Such prominence meant a constant influx of peoples which is now credited with cementing its unique mix of cultures and traditions, creating a truly unique identity.

While troubled throughout the 20th century by organized crime (and sadly into the 21st century, but less so) Neapolitans have retained their famously friendly and welcoming personality - you won't find a more hospitable people in Italy. 

Old Naples street - Campania guide

Restaurants to Visit in Naples

Of course you'd never visit Naples without having the famous pizza (or 6 during the weekend as we often do). Here are some of our favorites:

  • 50 Kalò - some of the lightest dough we have ever tasted! You're already hungry again after you eat an entire pizza.
  • Pizzeria Da Michele - the famous pizzeria of Eat Pray Love, but honestly we noted the quality went slightly down, and you'll have a 2 hour wait.
  • Pizzeria Trianon - across the street from Da Michele with a 15 minute wait usually and nearly equally good!
  • Sorbillo Piccolina - for the famous fried pizza
  • Antica Pizzeria Di Matteo - if you're on Via dei Tribunali and you need a fast, cheap and delicious pizza on the fly.
  • Mimì alla Ferrovia - great restaurant in Naples near the station

Be sure to visit the Catacombs of San Gennaro - well curated by a group called Paranza. Great english spoken and absolutely stunning catacombs. There's an entire world to be discovered underground in Naples.


Traditional Neapolitan pizza

Looking for vineyards and wineries in Campania? Meet all of our wine makers from Campania here:



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Beyond Naples

Venturing beyond Naples you'll find a region of extremes; parched, almost savanna-like hills give way to lush lowlands and the perfectly blue Tyrrhenian sea; near-abandoned towns lie silently next to luxury developments and ancient settlements sit in peaceful harmony with modern cities.

Few areas of Italy offer so much diversity in a single region, or so much heritage. Maybe Tuscany comes close for scenery, and Lazio for history, but Campania was a hub for ancient people (pre-dating the Romans) who recognized it for its unique geographical features and natural beauty.

Much of Campania's character has been determined by Vesuvius, the legendary volcano that gives as much as it takes. Eruptions have deposited life-giving nutrients on the land in the sea, but have also destroyed swathes of the region over the millennia.

If time allows, use this Campania guide to explore further, going beyond Naples to discover this incredible and beautiful region. 

Campania guide - View of Vesuvio from Pompeii

Wineries to Visit in Campania

Cantina Olivella - Ciro is a really great guy doing absolutely incredible things on the volcano, and I’d recommend to all that you try to visit him, although his English is limited. Working with vines over 80 years of age, which are ungrafted, which he does not treat in any way except for biodynamically (a step above organics), who are nestled high up on the volcanic soil of Mt. Vesuvius, he has the quintessential conditions for making a sincere and beautiful wine which expresses his territory.

Catalanesca, the grape of our masterpiece InSumma (if we don’t say so ourselves), is one of his predominant grapes along with Piedirosso and a few others. InSumma was born from having witnessed the winery buried at the Villa Augustea, where having seen the prevalence of amphora, we encouraged Ciro to try them and from there was born InSumma - an amphora wine with no clarification, no filtration, nothing added or taken away, and no sulfites added.

Watch us pop a bottle on Mt. Vesuvius in collaboration with Somm TV 


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Cantina Vincenza Nardone
- Pupo and Sara are two of our favorite people we visited recently. Pupo for his extreme dedication to his wines and the territory, and Sara for the inspiration for an American to move to Italy, directly where her roots are from in Irpinia, and to merge her Californian past with all the changes that living in the countryside would present her with, seeing her integrate herself so intensely and gratefully. If you love Aglianico, these were some of the most sincere expressions we have ever tasted.

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Cantina Mastroberardino
- Here you have a larger winery, yet, if we must be sincere, they are making some of the most incredible wines of the region. And they have been an extremely important family in getting wines exported to the US. In fact, if you get a chance to visit them, you can take a stroll through their wine history in their ‘museum’ of important letters and artifacts in their cellar.  One thing to note, is even given their expansive size, most of their wines come from a multitude of different crus, meaning that each wine is somehow still a smaller batch. Even if I hate to compare Italian wines to French wines, I will say that some of their wines had the elegance and what would seem to be the incredible aging potential of some the the best Burgundies I’ve ever tasted.

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Eating & Drinking


  • Pepe in Grani - great but not so great that I'd make it a destination.  Try the fried cones!
  • Pizzeria I Masanielli - if you find yourself in or near Caserta
  • Inn Bufalito - an institution in central Sorrento offering the best buffalo produce from mozzarella to steak - ask to try the locally brewed beer, infused with Sorrentine lemons.
board of cured meats and cheese

What to do & Where to visit


pompeii frescoes
  • Pompeii & Herculaneum - for history lovers, discover these towns buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. If you are time limited you can do both in a day, but consider spreading them out to fully appreciate these fascinating sites. For a guide to visiting Pompeii, check out our friends at Romewise here


  • Kayaking in Sorrento - burn off some of those pizza calories with a trip along the Sorrento Peninsula. Book for sunrise or sunset for a truly magical experience.
  • Hiking on Vesuvius - can be done as a standalone excursion or as part of a trip to Pompeii and/or Herculaneum.
  • Day trip to Capri for shopping and some the best views of the area you'll find.

kayak in the sea near Sorrento

Where to stay


aperitivo with a view of Vesuvio
  • Monte di Grazia - this is one of our winemakers in Tramonti, just 5 minutes north of the Amalfi Coast who offer accommodation in a small apartment in their vineyard.
  • Hotel Continental - old world charm and service with the best cocktail menu in the region, with views of Vesuvius to match.
  • Cubo Apartments - self-catering apartments in a small complex (5 apartments) in Vico Equense, the perfect base to explore Campania from. You won't find a better breakfast in the region!



Love wines from Campania? We almost always include a couple in our Wine Club collections. Explore our Campania wine profiles from past and current Wine Club selections:



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Want to drink some of the most curated artisan wines of Italy which often you can only find here, and get loads of information about the wine's story and how best to enjoy it?  Join our wine club for this and more.

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