“When you come to Campania, you cry two times: when you arrive and when you leave.” This popular Italian saying perfectly describes what to expect from the southern region. Prepare for a surprising mix of noise and warm hospitality, a unique combination of confusion and genius, and a gorgeous contradiction like no other. It’s no accident that such a unique region is part of Italy, the most picturesque country in the world.
In Roman times, Campania was the dream place for emperors and wealthy people, who first called this place “Campania Felix” (the Happy Land) and dotted its astonishing landscape with outstanding summer villas. Situated at the doors of southern Italy, Campania had always been one of the richest areas in Italy until the end of the 18th century, when the unification of Italy took away its glory. Nevertheless, centuries of prosperity have left one of the most appreciated artistic heritages in Italy: five out of the 20 most visited tourist attractions in Italy are situated in Campania, a region that also boasts the incredible number of seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites!
Today, Campania is without any doubt one of the most sought-after places to visit in Italy. This destination is beloved by tourists, thanks to its winning combination of three special elements: the immense artistic heritage surrounded by an enchanting landscape, the best food in the world, and the good humor and welcome of its inhabitants, who open their hearts to visitors.
WHAT TO SEE
The list of interesting places to visit in Campania is simply endless; there is a lot to see in such a multifaceted land. Among dozens of interesting destinations there are four places you cannot miss visiting:
Loved by artists and the international jet-set, the Amalfi Coast is by far the most beloved destination among tourists. The captivating fishing villages, such as Amalfi, Positano, and Sorrento, are authentic treasures of nature and architecture surrounded by crystal-clear seas.
The capital of the region is the beating heart of Campania. The historic center (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is a feast for the eyes and the ears. Full of local color and hospitality, its narrow lanes harbor over 2,400 years of precious artworks and masterpieces that rival those of any other European capital.
Rugged cliffs, white sand beaches, lemon trees, flowers, and rocky coastline hiding a surprising number of caves and secret grottos in its depths are just some great features of this slice of heaven. Capri is an authentic island of romance in Italy.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, the excavations of Pompei are a well-preserved evidence of life during Roman times. The town of Pompei, which was buried under lava in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvio over two millennia ago, offers an unparalleled glimpse into daily life of the glorious Roman empire.
WHAT TO EAT (AND DRINK)
Campania boasts one of the richest and most varied cuisines of all Italy. Thanks to its climate and geography, which alternates between seaside and mountain, and even volcanic rock (Mt. Vesuvio), a great culture of food and wine has developed throughout the centuries. These favorable conditions, coupled with the genius of the Campanians, gave birth to a large variety of delicacies, some of which are beloved all over the world.
The most famous delicacy of this region (and unquestionably the best “food invention” in history) is pizza. Every pizzeria in the world (especially those owned by non-Italians) promises to make the best pizza, but if you want to taste authentic and genuine pizza, you must come to Campania.
For a true taste of the region, pair your pizza with the "Barolo of the south," Aglianico. The most important red grape in Campania, Aglianico boasts an intense structure and high acidity, which picks up a lot of character from the terroir. The warmer climates, volcanic soil, and high elevation influence expressions of Aglianico with riper fruit, smokier earth and refreshing acidity.
Finally, do not forget to finish your Campanian meal with a freshly-made gelato, second only to the world-famous Sicilian one, and to try a small glass of Limoncello, another truly Campanian invention whose secret ingredient is the zest of Femminello Santa Teresa lemons, near Sorrento.
Eataly Magazine is pleased to publish a guest post by Pietro Marco Fraccalvieri of Select Italy, an agency specializing in Italian travel.