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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Viaggio Italiano (Italian Journey)

The picturesque Borgo Marinaro quarter built for the fishermen of Santa Lucia
The picturesque Borgo Marinaro quarter built for the fishermen of Santa Lucia

Italy keeps inspiring most of us over and over, it is everything from the Arts to the Music, from the Architecture to the Fashion, from the History to the wine and food.

Naples is one of the cities that fascinates me with incredible characteristics and the magnificent views of the Vesuvius, wherever your position is, you will be able to have that postcard illusion.  Here you need to take your time, to eat and drink like a local, don’t bring your watch, time here seems like it never goes by, it is the perfect way to feel that “La Dolce Vita” style.

Borgo Marinaro, Marecchiaro and Santa Lucia

One of the romantic walks around Naples is by the Lungomare in the Santa Lucia neighborhood, with plenty of restaurants to choose from surrounded by colorful sun kissed boats lining around the “Borgo Marinaro” (the fishermen’s quarter).  Naples inspired also the most romantic Italian songs (canzonettas) and it’s here in this quarter where they were born.  In Naples everything is about love, food and the simple life, just experience it for yourself.

The Lungomare was frequented by Sophia Loren and Salvador Dali and you can still have the same taste and get your inner diva and glamour do the rest, just put on some huge sunglasses with a little black dress and enjoy a glass of Falanghina wine which is the perfect pair with any of the local seafood dishes.

A view from the Lungomare where you can find plenty of restaurants, one better tha the other
A view from the Lungomare where you can find plenty of restaurants, one better than the other
Castel dell"Ovo, the oldest castle in Naples dated back to Roman times.  In the 5th century it was a Monastery, many additions and changes were added through times.
Castel dell”Ovo, the oldest castle in Naples dated back to Roman times. In the 5th century it was a Monastery, many additions and changes were added through times.

The legend around the Castel dell”Ovo and the particular name first appears in the XIV century and it talks about a magic egg that was hidden in the castle.  Today the castle with his particular tufa walls is home of art exhibitions and retrospectives that can be visited by the public.

Stepping for some water at the fountain in the Castel dell'Ovo, ballerina flats are recommended for long walks, I always keep a pair in my handbag.
Stepping for some water at the fountain in the Castel dell’Ovo, ballerina flats are recommended for long walks, I always keep a pair in my handbag.
The Immacolatella Fountain built in the XVII century
The Immacolatella Fountain built in the XVII century
One great place to eat in Marecchiaro is Trattoria Da Cicciotto with the splendid view of the Vesuvius and a glass of Falanghina
One great place to eat in Marecchiaro is Trattoria Da Cicciotto with the splendid view of the Vesuvius and a glass of Falanghina
At Marecchiaro don't forget to follow the waiter's advice and take the antipasti della casa (house appetizers) they will keep bringing them before your main course; experience the flavors and simplicity of the fresh dishes by the sea
At Marecchiaro don’t forget to follow the waiter’s advice and take the antipasti della casa (house appetizers) they will keep bringing them before your main course; experience the flavors and simplicity of the fresh dishes by the sea.
One of the appetizers served at Da Cicciotto is this amazing octopus on fresh squeezed pomodorini (cherry tomatoes) and pieces of home made toasted bread.  Buon apetito!!!
One of the appetizers served at Da Cicciotto is this amazing octopus on fresh squeezed pomodorini (cherry tomatoes) and pieces of home made toasted bread. Buon appetito!!!
Walking by the Port in Santa Lucia with hand crafted sandals made in Capri and getting some of that "O' Sole Mio" feeling.
Walking by the Port in Santa Lucia with hand crafted sandals made in Capri and getting some of that “O’ Sole Mio” feeling.
Octopus salad seasoned with just extra virgin olive oil, lemons from Sorrento and parsley.  Experience the taste of the Gulf and you will taste the difference.
Octopus salad seasoned with just extra virgin olive oil, lemons from Sorrento and parsley. Experience the taste of the Gulf of Naples, stop by “Anima e Cozze” one of the many Restaurants of the Lungomare.
Grilled Calamari seasoned with just lemon juice and olive oil at Anima e Cozze restaurant.
Grilled Calamari seasoned with just lemon juice and olive oil at Anima e Cozze restaurant.
After all these appetizers you need to get some pasta, remember why Sophia Loren said that everything she has was she owes to spaghetti, so forget about diets and eat this great "spaghetti alle vongole" a must have while in Naples and one of the traditional dishes of the "Parthenopean cuisine" most restaurants in Naples serve this dish
After all these appetizers you need to get some pasta, remember why Sophia Loren said that everything she was she owes to spaghetti, so forget about diets and eat this great “spaghetti alle vongole” a must have while in Naples and one of the traditional dishes of the “Parthenopean cuisine” most restaurants in Naples serve this dish just like it suppose to be “al dente”. Another great restaurant in the Borgo Marinaro is “Oste Pazzo” where I had this home made pasta.

After lunch at the Borgo Marinaro or Santa Lucia a short walk to the chic Chiaia neighborhood it’s a must for the designers stores and the majestic architecture.

Chiaia

Walking with stilettos can be difficult in Naples because of the cobbler stone streets but if you want to travel in style and walk in style everything has a price.  Italian women know how to master this game.
Walking with stilettos can be difficult in Naples because of the cobbler stone streets but if you want to travel in style and walk in style everything has a price. Italian women know how to master this game.

Naples can be a city with many contradictions, narrowed claustrophobic streets full of Vespas and chaotic traffic or wide avenues with the most glamorous shops and ladies covered in fur and designer handbags.  While in Chiaia experience both sides, take a look at the Fascist era architecture and monuments and don’t forget it’s time for an aperitif, our version of Happy Hour, Italian Style, somewhere around 5 to 7 pm. Chiaia gives many options when it comes to aperitif, the difference is that with one drink most bars offer a full buffet of appetizers and nibbles, all self service but with moderation, remember soon will be time for dinner.

One of the trendy barettis (little bars) in Chiaia it is definitely where the nightlife is in Naples.  You can always meet locals and friends at the "aperitivo" time.
One of the trendy barettis (little bars) in Chiaia it is definitely where the nightlife is in Naples. You can always meet locals and friends at the “aperitivo” time. Try an “Aperol spritz” or a “Prosecco” with some ready served appetizers before heading out for dinner at one of the many great restaurants in town.
The Chiaia quarter during Christmas time, shopping can be also a challenge in Naples, remember that everything closes from noon to 3or 4 pm and then reopens until 7  o 8 pm.
The Chiaia quarter during Christmas time, shopping can be also a challenge in Naples, remember that everything closes from noon to 3 or 4 pm and then reopens until 7 o 8 pm.
Chiaia is also full of vintage stores, art galleries and antique shops.
Chiaia is also full of vintage stores, art galleries and antique shops.
The Georgio Armani store in Chiaia showing some of the fantastic designs by Armani for the red carpet.
The Georgio Armani store in Chiaia showing some of the fantastic designs by Armani for the red carpet.

Well, I think has been a long day and you need some rest because tomorrow you will be visiting more wonderful monuments, eating amazing food and tasting excellent wines, what a wonderful life!!!

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