From the luxurious Cilento Park to the appealing Amalfi coastline, Campania is the land of sea and sun.
Along the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea, bordering Lazio, Molise, Puglia and Basilicata, it has a small, but quality grape growing area. For those coming from the North Coast, Campania begins where the Appian Way branches off into a variety of minor roads.
Everything about this area speaks of ancient times. We leave Minturno, this side of Garigliano, cross the river and get to the land of Falerno, with its vineyards sloping down Monte Massico almost to the coastline. We are in the homeland of one of the most delicious cheeses: Mozzarella di Bufalo.
The Domiziana leads to the entrance of Naples and introduces us to the ancient Roman Inferno – the vast volcanic area of Campi Flegrei and the Cumae territory, the off to Pzzuoli and Cape Miseno, outlining the Gulf of Naples. With a quick about face, we follow the Appian Way, from the Domiziana junction where Monti Aurunci territory and the Colli Teatini come into view.
We continue on to Caserta, with its imposing Palazzo Reale and San Leucio complex. From here we admire Naples across Caserta, the Valle Caudina into the Samnite area. San Marco de’Cavoti, ear Benevento is a great place to stock up on torroncini. We now pass through the rolling hills od Sannio into Irpinia. Both areas produce excellent Olive Oil and Irpinia is lovely with its tiny hilltop villages.
We go from the capital, Avellino, skirting Serino to stunning Salerno, with a well-preserved historic center and elegant promenade. Travelling w little further south we arrive in Paestum, with its fateful temples. Continuing on to Agropoli, the doorway to Cilento, and extraordinarily beautiful place. It is also pleasing to the palate with a coast that offers exquisite fish and an inland laden with salamis and unrivaled dairy products. The oil here is also excellent.
From Salerno, travelling north, we set off for the Amalfi Coast., beginning in Vietri sul Mare on the south slope famous for its precious ceramics. A complete trip along the coastline must include a visit to the Valle Metielliana and Cava de’Tirreni, a city of porticoes, odd for this regions, the from Vietri sul Mare onto Cetara, famous for anchovies.
The Amalfi Coast scenery is stupefying for the way it mutates continuously, for its orange blossoms, and the lemon scents that waft down from the hills. Between these lemons and those from Sorrentino, one must try the superb limoncello. Through Maiori and Minori we go to arrive at the namesake village — Amalfi. Amalfi has a splendid Duomo. a longstanding paper making tradition, fine cooking and depends on fishing and vegetable gardening to make a living.
How can we abandon the coastal road? Easy because we must visit Ravello, the true balcony of this area On our way we pass Furore, a magical town with its glorious murals. Praiano is just a few k north and we can already see three blocks of craggy Capri rock and Positano. We are at a kind of confluence: Here the Amalfi coast gives way to Penisola Sorrentina which usually occurs only symbolically in enchanted land – Sant’Agata sui Due Golfi (two Gulfs).
We are in Lobra, the cut off point of the Sorrentina Coast, at Punta Campanella, where the Tempio di Minerva once rose and where Capri reaches out to touch it. Onward to Soreento, land of mermaids therough Sant’agnello, Piano di Sorrento, Meta di Sorrento and Vico Equense, level with the sea until the butress of Monte Faito, all the way to ancient Stabia.
Once in Pompei, we relish the experience of an evening visit to the ruins. After wandering around the Forum and Villa dei Misteri, we head to osteria dell’Oste Eusino, where we are offered seafood cakes laced with pepper and cumin. Next stop is Gragnano, the home of paccheri, a short pocket-like pasta with a rich thick tomato sauce.
But here we must backtrack to Punta Campanella where we catch a boat to Capri, with its little square and the Grotta Azzurra. Capri glances at Ischia, the most ancient Greek colony in the western Mediterranean. We climb Monte Epomeo for a most spectacular view.
Crossing the Bay of Naples back to the mainland, we are welcomed by the Maschio Angioni and arrive to Castel dell’Ovo along the promenade, which rises on the small, tufa stone island of ancient Magaride. We head up the most fashionable street of Via Calabritto to piazza dei Martiri wher the mediterranean seaport Naples meets the hilly European one. Go back down to Piazza Plebiscito and Palazzo Reale, towards Santa Lucia for the best pizza in the world.