The Phlegraean fields (I campi ardenti) A look in to an ancient civilization and viniculture

The Sibyl's cave: according to the myth, this was where to find the Cumaean Sibyl; the oracle consulted by Aeneas.  The tufa passage way, trapezoid in section is naturally illuminated by narrow fissures and ends in a vaulted chamber.  The system connects Cumae to lake Averno.
The Sibyl’s cave: according to the myth, this was where to find the Cumaean Sibyl; the oracle consulted by Aeneas. The tufa passage way, trapezoid in section is naturally illuminated by narrow fissures and ends in a vaulted chamber. The system connects Cumae to lake Averno.

The wide arc of land around the Pozzuoli Bay has been known for centuries as the Campi Flegrei (The Phlegraean fields) or Burning Fields, because of the constant volcanic activity.  Mud still bubbles from the clay bed of the solfatara and in places the ground is still hot, you can easily boil an egg if you place it under the soil.

La Sibilla winery is located in the historic Phlegraean fields overlooking the sea, the minerality of the terroir makes the perfect soil for the ancient grapes of Greek origins including Falanghina and Per'e Palummo also known as Piedirosso
La Sibilla winery is located in the historic Phlegraean fields overlooking the sea, the minerality of the terroir makes the perfect soil for the ancient grapes of Greek origins including Falanghina and Per’e Palummo also known as Piedirosso

Over time some of the Phlegraean craters became lakes.  Lake Averno thought to be the entrance of hell and owes its name (a-ornon in Greek: without birds) to the once suffocating vapours.

A 100 years old wine of Piedirosso at La Sibilla winery.  Piedirosso (red foot) is also called Per'e Palummo in Neapolitan dialect which literally translates to dove's foot.
A 200 years old vine of Piedirosso at La Sibilla winery. Piedirosso (red foot) is also called Per’e Palummo in Neapolitan dialect which literally translates to dove’s foot.

At the end of the 1st century BC, its almost sacred character declined after the construction of Porto Giulio, a systems of channels that connected the sea and the lakes, ships first reached the outer port in Lake Lucrino and then the inner basin of Lake Averno, connected to Cumae by the tunnel through Monte Grillo.  The port was abandoned when silted up and trade was transferred to Miseno.

And is here at La Sibilla wineries where we can see this aqueduct from the first century BC
The aqueduct from the 1st century BC can be seen on the land where is now La Sibilla winery in the Phlegraean fields
The "Enoarchaeology" is practiced here from the "terroir", the land located in an archaeological site to the ancient viniculture techniques used by the first colonies of Greeks who founded Cumae
The “Enoarchaeology” is practiced here from the “terroir”, the land located in an archaeological site to the ancient viniculture techniques used by the first colonies of Greeks who founded Cumae
The ancient cave inside La Sibilla winery produces excellent wines featured in AIS Duemilavini and Slow Food's Guide to the wines of Italy
The ancient cave inside La Sibilla winery produces excellent wines featured in AIS Duemilavini and Slow Food’s Guide to the wines of Italy
The key that opens the cave of La Sibilla
The key that opens the cave of La Sibilla
Piedirosso is aged for 18 months on French oak barrels at La Sibilla
Piedirosso is aged for 18 months on French oak barrels at La Sibilla
Example of biodiversity were vines coexist along with other agricultural forms.  The Azienda Agricola La Sibilla participates in the Slow Food commission and has some legumes on a DOP category
Example of biodiversity were vines coexist along with other agricultural forms. The Azienda Agricola La Sibilla participates in the Slow Food commission and has some legumes on a DOP category such as the chickpeas (ceci) of the Phlegraean fields historically cultivated by the Greeks in this land.
Vincenzo di Meo, young enologist in charge of the family owned winery La Sibilla conducting a wine tasting of his own production.
Vincenzo di Meo, young enologist in charge of the family owned winery La Sibilla conducting a wine tasting of his own production.

Cumae

Founded in the 8th century BC by Greeks stationed on Ischia, Cumae is one of the oldest colonies of Magna Grecia.  The founders of this colony came from Eubea, a Greek Island of the Aegean sea.

Cumae Archeological Park.  Cumae was a powerful port for centuries and resisted the Etruscan but succumbed to the Romans in the 3rd century BC becoming a Roman colony.
Cumae Archeological Park. Cumae was a powerful port for centuries and resisted the Etruscan but succumbed to the Romans in the 3rd century BC becoming a Roman colony.
The remains of the Temple of Jupiter, this ancient sanctuary became an early Christian church, the altar and the baptistry pictured here.
The remains of the Temple of Jupiter, this ancient sanctuary became an early Christian church, the altar and the baptistery pictured here.
Arco Felice and entrance to the archeological site.  The Roman city grew up over the ruins of the Greek city in the 5th and 6th centuries but was utterly destroyed by the Saracens in 915.
Arco Felice and entrance to the archeological site. The Roman city grew up over the ruins of the Greek city in the 5th and 6th centuries but was utterly destroyed by the Saracens in 915.
Today, new discoveries by the Orientale University of Naples shows the artifacts used by the ancient Greeks to cook and eat their food, part of the Archaeogastronomy.   A form of "ollae" or ceramic pot very close to our contemporary terracotta pots.
Today, new discoveries by the Orientale University of Naples shows the artifacts used by the ancient Greeks to cook and eat their food, part of the Archaeogastronomy. A form of “ollae” or ceramic pot very close to our contemporary terracotta pots.

Villa Eubea and Vinaria, a cult to food and wine in the ancestral site

I had the full Archaegastronomy experience inside the cave of Vinaria, the restaurant of Villa Eubea just a walk away from the archaeological site.
I had the full Archaeogastronomy experience inside the cave of Vinaria, the restaurant of Villa Eubea just a walk away from the archaeological site.
Sampling of seafood and fish at Vinaria including fresh octopus salad and fried grouper.
Sampling of seafood and fish at Vinaria including fresh octopus salad and fried grouper.
Grilled seafood and fish paired with organic grown veggies paired with Falanghina of the Phlegraean fields DOC.
Grilled seafood and fish paired with organic grown veggies paired with Falanghina of the Phlegraean fields DOC.
Excellent dining experience at Vinaria wine & flavors, restaurant and cave.
Excellent dining experience at Vinaria wine & flavors, restaurant and cave.
The restaurant inside Vinaria's cave
The restaurant inside Vinaria’s cave
The sustainability of Villa Eubea and Vinaria where the vegetables used their cuisine are organically grown on their very own site.
The sustainability of Villa Eubea and Vinaria where the vegetables used in their cuisine are organically grown on their very own site.
Lemon trees at Villa Eubea used for the restaurant's consumption.
Lemon trees at Villa Eubea used for the restaurant’s consumption.
An old press at Villa Eubea, was still used here for years to get the last drops of juice from the local grapes.
An old press at Villa Eubea, was still used here for years to get the last drops of juice from the local grapes.

Buried Greek towns and Roman ruins, reveal the region’s ancient history, the burning fields and their volcanic soil bringing up the flavors on this land that gives in return high mineral wine and delicious fruit and vegetables.

Next, we will explore the rest of this amazing territory going from Pozzuoli to Baia and Bacoli stopping by more wineries, restaurants by the bay and archeological sites.  See you tomorrow, thank you for reading.

(c) 2013 Montserrat Franco, all pictures by me taken with IPhone 4S and Sony Cybershot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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