When you’re in the capital of Campania, Naples, if you see nothing else be sure to visit the Cappella Sansevero to see the sculpture of the Veiled Christ, a true masterpiece which will move you to tears. In the countryside around Naples there is also so much to see and plenty of wonderful wines to sample. Beneath the ever-looming threat of Vesuvius lie the remains of Pompeii and Herculaneum – the latter not as well-known as Pompeii and, consequently, not as overrun by tourists. And just because the volcano has not erupted since 1944 do not think it will not happen again. Scientists do, however, assure us that they can give plenty of warning of an impending eruption so, unless you actually live there, you should not be too concerned.
Heading further south will take you to the breathtaking Amalfi coast where, if you can tear yourself away from the jaw-droppingly beautiful scenery, you can visit vineyards and see vines hundreds of years old, some of the very few to survive the phylloxera outbreak that devastated European wine production in the second half of the 19th century. Further south, along the coast, are the exquisite Greek temples of Paestum. The museum has some wonderful frescos including the enigmatic tomb of the diver.
For the gastronome, Campania has some specialities to offer apart from the ubiquitous pizza. This is, after all, the home of mozzarella di bufala, made from buffalo milk – not from the grumpy African buffalo but from the Asian water buffalo that you can see grazing in the fields. Gragnano is known as the city of pasta and here you can taste the real thing, produced using bronze dies that leaves the surface with a rough matt finish. The Italians say this means that the pasta does what it should, namely it picks up the sauce. Finally, no Italian meal is complete unless it is finished by a digestivo and the most popular one in Italy is limoncello. Limoncello originates from this area and is made from the lemons of Sorrento and Amalfi.
North of Naples and inland lies the town of Sant’Agata de’ Goti. A beautiful town in its own right, it also serves as a useful base to visit Reggia di Caserta, the palace of the kings of Naples. Built to rival Versailles, it is now a little down at heel but still stunning. Nearby are some great vineyards producing the famous wines Aglianico del Taburno and Fiano di Avellino. If you want to travel further east, you can explore the mountains where you will find Greco di Tufo and Taurasi.