Campania is a wonderful wine region in southern Italy. It has an old wine tradition. It was one of the most famous wine regions of the Romans.
The vineyards in Campania are mostly inland, not directly along the coast. The soils are influenced by volcanism.
It were the Greeks who introduced Vitis Vinifera in Campania. Grapes such as Greco di Tufo, Aglianico and Falanghina have all Greek origins. But, it were the Romans who introduced the wines from Campania everywhere in the world.
Naples is the capital city of the Campania region. It is Italy’s third largest city. I know “Napule” quite well. I have wonderful memories of Naples. In 2003 I’ve stayed a month in this unique city to learn the Italian language. It was great fun spending the Summer there!
Winery Villa Matilde
The wine tasting in Campania was in the winery Villa Matilde in Cellole in the province Caserta close to Benevento. 80 km drive from Naples.
The family Avellone is the owner of Villa Matilde. It is a three generation family wine business.In the sixties Francesco Paolo Avellone started with re-planting of old vines. He had a passion for ancient historical wines. With his new wine projects he gained support from local farmers and friends.
The vineyards of Villa Matilde are in the limestone massif Mount Massico, the Roccamonfina volcano. Today daughter Maria Ida and son Salvatore are responsible for the production of their wines.
In the wine shop we had a lovely wine tasting. We didn’t visit the vineyards. But it was a nice experience. Maria is really a wonderful host!
The wines in Campania are produced by Italian autochtone – unique grape varieties, such as Falanghina, Aglianico, Piedirosso, Fiano and Greco. The Agliano grape is cultivated everywhere in Campania. Aglianico is one of the great grapes of Italy. The wines made from Agliano are full bodied. It is worth a try!
The grape variety Falanghina is an important white grape in Falerna del Massico. It is born from ancient vines by the Greeks about 3000 years ago.Falerno del Massico DOC is the modern Falernum with whites from Falanghina.
The extinct Roccamonfina volcano contributes volcanic soils to Villa Matilde and the other Falerno del Massico regions vineyards. The taste of the wine is fresh and mineral. Very pleasant to drink. It is one of my favorite white wines!
They also produce a wonderful rosato wine made from 100% Aglianico grapes.
Amy and David are friends of mine from the US. They live in an apartment in Vomero. A chic neighborhood just outside the city centre of Naples. It is a wonderful location. The views over the Gulf of Naples and the Vesuvius are amazing!
I met Amy and David at the Wine and Food Experience in Montepulciano last year. They work at the United States Navy base. Tuscany wines are their favorites. As soon as they can they come to Montepulciano to get some Vino Nobile and Brunello bottles to bring home!
Together with people from the United Stated Navy base we did a cooking class. Two ladies from Naples prepared delicious local dishes for us. We were allowed to watch or even to help them!
Antipasto: mignon mozzarella di bufala, bruschette with cherry-tomatoes and basilicum, local cheeses and cold cuts
Primo piatto: pasta with pumpkin, pancetta and ricotta salata
Secondo piatto: stuffed involtini with white wine sauce
Contorno: garden peppers with black olives
Dessert: almond cake
Wine: “Falerno del Massico DOC” from Villa Matilde; Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 2017 from Gattavecchi.
Virtual wine tasting
The best way to discover the Italian culture obviously is through the wine! Sign up for the Sylvia Italy’s virtual wine tasting.
Alberto Giorgi is a local farmer and a small producer of aglione. He grows fruit, vegetables and aglione -garlic- in the Valdichiana valley. His farms are located in Montepulciano and Chianciano.
Every Wednesday and Friday morning is a farmers’ market in Montallese. Alberto is always there with his market stall to sell fresh vegetables and fruits. His prices for the local food are good value for money!
Montallese is located in the province of Chiusi. It is a small village along the road.
Aglione is a giant garlic variety from the “Valdichiana Senese” area. The aglione is also called the “aglio del bacio” (kissing garlic). This garlic is mild, odourless and easy to digest.
The weight is about 50 gram to 1-2 kilos. But 1-2 kilos is more the exception rather than the rule.
Every year the seeds of the aglione (which are about 4-5 cm in size) are sown in September. The aglione bulbs are ready to harvest in June. Climate plays a crucial role at harvest time of the aglione. Many rainfall, pests and diseases can affect the garlic crop.
After the harvest time the garlic should be left out in the sun. The giant garlic is still green. Subsequently store your aglione in a dry and well ventilated place. You can last aglione for one year after it’s harvested, on the condition that the garlic is being kept in a dry and shady place.
Note: humidity can lead to damage of the aglione.
Flavor for foods
You can use aglione as a normal ingredient in all kinds of food dishes, such as sauces, dressings, vegetables, stews and meats.
The two most famous local pasta dishes from the Valdichiana are: Pici all’Aglione (pasta i pici with tomato-garlic sauce) and Pici con le Bricciole (pasta i pici with breadcrumbs).
This is excellent food you need to try when in Tuscany!
Pici pasta are thick homemade spaghetti. In Italy it is a first course. The pasta is also known as Pici Senesi. They are originally from southern Tuscany around Siena. Hence the name Pici Senesi.
In Montalcino they are called “i pinci”. Montalcino is a hill town and comune in the province of Siena.
It is not difficult to make fresh pasta i pici. Still me, as a foreigner in Italy, I am not used working with flour and water. I don’t have the technique of pasta making, unfortunately. I prepare more easy, healthy and quick meals.
The ingredients of the pasta dough for i pici are simple: flour, water and olive oil.
With your hands flat you roll the pasta from the center outwards.
Pici is a fat and rough pasta. There are many varieties to choose among i pici:
Pici all’aglione –tomato and garlic sauce- Pici ragù –meat sauce- Pici al ragù d’anatra –duck sauce-
In supermarkets you can buy fresh pici. The pici from the supermarkets are delicious as well. I eat them often with “ai frutti di mare” (fish) or with fresh made Pesto Genovese.
Of course fresh pasta tastes better, but with a little creativity and flexibility you can make the best pasta dishes at home!
Restaurant La Solita Zuppa
The owners of restaurant La Solita Zuppa are Andrea with his wife Lorella Casagni. Andrea is a top chef and sommelier. La Solita Zuppa is a Slow Food restaurant in Chiusi città, the old town.
La Solita Zuppa offers traditional dishes. On the menu you can choose from many pasta dishes with typical and local ingredients.
Every morning they make their own fresh pasta. When I visited La Solita Zuppa Andrea had prepared the pasta dough for me to roll out.
It was a nice thing to do! For a moment I felt like an Italian “mamma” with many pasta making experience.
Having dinner at restaurant La Solita Zuppa is perfect for an evening of typical Tuscan plates. The atmosphere is cosy. The service is friendly and professional.
The dishes they offer are delicious and based on its long history and location. And if you love wine you should check out their wine list. Most of the wines are local and match excellent with the food they serve.
After weeks of lockdown they have opened their restaurant since May 27. It is recommended to make a reservation in advance. La Solita Zuppa is closed on Tuesdays.
La Solita Zuppa is famous for their Lampredotto sandwich. Lampredotto is a local Tuscan street food specialty. It is the fourth stomach of the cow. Tuscany has a tradition of eating internal organs. They use these organs to create delicious dishes with a strong and spicy flavor.
Personally I don’t like Lampredotto. It has a rich fatty texture.
But the tradition of food is important for the locals. It is a way of life and history. Most of the people in Tuscany love eating Lampredotto.
Chiusi is near Montepulciano. In a relaxing countryside sits the ancient city of Chiusi. It is situated on a hill overlooking the Val di Chiana valley and the Umbrian hills.
Chiusi città is the old town and Chiusi Scalò is the modern area.
The story of the Tuscan town Chiusi is closely linked to the Etruscans. In every corner you can breathe in the Etruscan presence and there are many details that refer to king Porsenna.
The burial place of the legendary Etruscan king Porsenna would have been beneath the town of Chiusi. As we know now, the underground routs, the labyrinths, were part of a water supply system dug by the Etruscans.
Chiusi is an appreciated city by visitors. In the ancient town you find a number of historical and archeological sites. One of the most interesting museums to visit is the “National Archeological Museum”: Museo Nazionale Etrusco. The museum reconstructs the history of Chiusi and its territory through numerous finds from the Iron Age to the Lombard age.
It is one of the most important museums in Italy for its knowledge of Etruscan art.
How do I reach Chiusi
There are different ways to get to Chiusi. By car and by train. Chiusi Scalò is an important train station. Operated by Trenitalia, from Rome and Florence are several train services.
It is very easy to find a taxi in Chiusi Scalò. There are also busses that take you from the station to the centre of Chiusi.
One of my favorite gelateria in Chiusi Scalo is Green Bar in Via Cassia Aureli I, 107. This gelateria is at walking distance from the train station.
Lago di Chiusi
Chiusi’s Lake is only 5 minutes drive from the centre of Chiusi città. You can bike and hike in this wonderful nature area. For food lovers I recommend restaurant Pesce d’Orco. They offer traditional fish “pesce di lago brustico” from the Etruscan civilization. Yummy!
Every year in September is a run and walk around the lake: Giro Lago di Chiusi. It is a 18k run. A nice run experience! And if you don’t run you might participate to the organized walk.
The wine estate Dievole is located in the Chianti Classico area, one of the most popular wine region of Tuscany between Siena and Florence. Dievole overlooks the wonderful vineyards and olive groves. It covers an area of 400 hectares within the Chianti Classico territory in Vagliagli.
Dievole is an old winery founded in the 11th century. This Italian winery has a thousand year history. Today Dievole is owned by an oil tycoon from Argentina Alejandro Bulgheroni and is part of a network of wineries in Tuscany: Chianti Classico, Bolgheri and Montalcino.
The winery Dievole produces elegant wines such as Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, Vin Santo and IGT white wine. But they make also other Italian great wines: Bolgheri DOC and Brunello di Montalcino DOCG.
During the wine tour we discovered the history and the taste of Dievole wines. We were with a small group of 9 persons (it is necessary to pre-arrange this wine experience).
Our guide waited for us at the wine shop. She started with a brief introduction to the wines and the history of Dievole. After a small talk we walked through the vineyards, the historic wine cellars and tasting rooms. After the tour we started with individual tastings of the quality wines including good cheeses and local meats.
Our guide was really knowledgeable and she answered all of our questions. It was a great wine experience at Dievole. The complex Dievole looks really amazing with good manicured gardens and great views over the vineyards. The is tour is about 2 hours long and we tasted 6 wines.
Everything from the wine, food pairings and lunch were top quality. We brought some bottles home. It was a wonderful experience.
Therefor… I will be back for sure for an other wine tour!