I recently took a trip to Italy and toured Campania, a region that I have never been to. In a few series I will write about my experience in Italy and will start with one of my favorites, a tour of a winery in Taurasi, Avellino called “Cantine Antonio Caggiano”, lunch at Villa Assunta and a rustic bakery.
On a crisp September afternoon a group of us from Boston and locals from Mirabella Eclano had lunch at Villa Assunta, courtesy of Mayor Vincenzo Sirignano. This particular celebration was a prelude to a much more anticipated event, my sister in law Michela’s wedding. The wedding was held in her father in law’s hometown, Mirabella Eclano, Avellino. That will come later, along with my trip to the Amalfi Coast.
We began our luncheon at Villa Assunta, a spectacular restaurant in the town of Calore owned by the Guarino family. It is a typical rural farmhouse built in the 19th century overlooking the spectacular views of the villages and mountains. The restaurant also boasts a prime wine cellar (cantina) serving local wines. (See photos).
Each dish served was better than the next. Starting with mini antipasti of arancini, polenta, fresh mozzarella, and bruschetta which were tiny-like as made for a doll but hardy enough to open your palate for the dishes to follow. Our pasta dish was made with fresh tomatoes barely cooked, mixed with tiny pieces of raw beef, it was as if you could taste the earthly garden from which the tomatoes were freshly plucked. Heaven! The next course was interesting as it was served in fishbowl, topped with crispy fried thin potato shreds, over bits of pasta with cream and a green vegetable mix that I could not decipher but very tasty. However a certain flavor was imminent but surprisingly not something you would commonly find in food– lavendar! No wonder I was extremely calm at lunch! Or it could have been the wine with the calming effect… :)
After our lunch a few of us hopped into small cars and brought to the winery in Taurasi. Fortunately for us we made the trek over.
Cantine Antonio Caggiano in the town of Taurasi was founded by in 1990 by Antonio Caggiano. For many generations, the family has produced grapes from their acres of vineyards and always sold them. In 1990 Antonio decided to build the winery “partly for pleasure, partly for the challenge, not only to rediscover the smells and flavors lost in Taurasi wine, but to also create a small museum of the agricultural tools used in the past.”
The winery produces three different types of red wine and four white wines. (see photos) Antonio’s father is a photographer whose creativity was displayed throughout the winery. Images on the walls reflected Italian culture, people and a form of imagery incorporated with winemaking. I learned that Taurasi is known for it’s fine vineyards and winemaking. Batches of wine were ready to set sail around the world, from Tokyo to Russia and to the United States– noting the Cleveland, Ohio tags! I was impressed that I possibly tried this wine in restaurants, not knowing that it was produced in the town next to where my in laws come from.
Our final stop was to a bakery, same proprietors as Villa Assunta. There we watched the baker preparing a fresh batch of loaves and ladies preparing fresh tomato sauce used only for the pizza served at the bakery.
I hope you enjoy the photo essay and be sure to check back for the other part of this series.