Regional capital: Naples (Napoli)
Provinces: Avellino, Benevento, Caserta, Napoli, Salerno
Campania (Italian pronunciation: [kamˈpanja]) is a region of southern Italy in Europe. The region has a population of around 5.8 million people, making it the second-most-populous region of Italy; its total area of 13,595 km² makes it the most densely populated region in the country. Located on the Italian Peninsula, with the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west, the small Flegrean Islands and Capri are also administratively part of the region.
Throughout much of its history Campania has been at the centre of Western Civilisation's most significant entities. The area was colonised by Ancient Greeks and was within Magna Græcia, until the Roman Republic began to dominate. During the Roman era the area was highly respected as a place of culture by the emperors, where it balanced Greco-Roman culture. The area had many duchies and principalities during the Middle Ages, in the hands of the Byzantine Empire and some Lombards.
It was under the Normans that the smaller independent states were brought together as part of a sizable European kingdom, known as the Kingdom of Sicily, before the mainland broke away to form the Kingdom of Naples. It was during this period that especially elements of Spanish, French and Aragonese culture touched Campania. Later the area became the central part of the Two Sicilies under the Bourbons, until the Italian unification of 1860 when it became part of the new state Italy.
The capital city of Campania is Naples. Campania is rich in culture, especially in regards to gastronomy, music, architecture, archeological and ancient sites such as Pompeii, Herculaneum and Paestum. The name of Campania itself is derived from Latin, as the Romans knew the region as Campania felix, which translates into English as "fertile countryside". The rich natural sights of Campania make it highly important in the tourism industry, especially along the Amalfi Coast, Mount Vesuvius and the island of Capri.
Climate and Geography
Campania has an area of 13,595 sq km and a coastline of 350 km on the Tyrrhenian Sea. Campania is famous for its gulfs (Naples, Salerno and Policastro) as well as for three islands (Capri, Ischia and Procida).
Four other regions border Campania; Lazio to the northwest, Molise to the north, Apulia (Puglia) to the northeast and Basilicata to the east.
The mountainous area is fragmentised in separate massifs, rarely reaching 2,000 metres (Miltetto of 2,050 m), whereas close to the coast there are volcanic massifs: Vesuvio (1,277 m) and Campi Flegrei.
The climate is typically Mediterranean along the coast, whereas in the inner zones it is more continental, with low temperatures in winter. 51% of the total area is hilly, 34% mountainous and the remaining 15% is made up of plains. There is a high 'seismic' risk in the area of the region.
The ancient Romans considered Campania Felix to be the "non plus ultra" of wine regions. They favoured the vineyards along the coast north of Naples where Falernum, the most treasured wine of the empire, was grown. They also lauded the wines of Vesuvius and the hills of Avellino. The Greeks, too, recognised the privileged nature of the place, introducing vines which still stand out today in Aglianico andGreco.
Campania's vinicultural fortunes had been declining for decades as growers left the land and a majority of producers ignored DOC. But there have always been exceptions, none more conspicuous than the trio of classified wines - the red Taurasi and the white Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo - all grown in the hills east of Naples.
Taurasi, from Aglianico, has been called "the Barolo of the south" (non italics) due to its size and ability to age, though its style is proudly its own. That red wine was next in line for DOCG. Fiano and Greco are among italy's most distinguished whites. Credit for their status is due largely to the Mastroberadino winery which has carried these historically significant, but once nearly forgotten, vines to new heights of prestige.
The wines of Ischia and Solopaca rate increasing praise, as do the new DOCs of Falerno del Massico, where the ancient Falernum was grown. Recently the region's wine authorities have put the emphasis on controlled quality in new zones designed to revive Campania's historical potential.
- Aglianico del Taburno
- Fiano di Avellino (Apianum)
- Greco di Tufo
- Campi Flegrei
- Castel San Lorenzo
- Costa d'Amalfi (Furore, Ravello, Tramonti)
- Falerno del Massico
- Guardia Sanframondi or Guardiolo
- Penisola Sorrentina
- Sant'Agata dei Goti
- Colli di Salerno
- Terre del Volturno
Grapes and wines
The stunning coastal region of Campania is situated on the Italian Peninsula in south western Italy in the ‘shin of the boot’, of which its capital is Naples. Its name comes from Campania Felix, a Latin phrase roughly meaning fertile land, and with its strong historical link to the vine going back as far as 12th Century B.C; it is one of the oldest Italian regions. Considerable influence derived from many ancient empires, including the Greeks, Romans and Byzantines, has meant this area is blossoming in autochthonous varieties, many of which have some historical legend attached to them. The area is also famous for one of the most ancient wines in Italy, Falerno (Falernum).
Campania champions many interesting native varieties, of which there are over one hundred. They are the essential ingredients in the three DOCG and seventeen DOC wines (Aglianico del Taburno, Aversa, Campi di Flegrei, Capri, Castel San Lorenzo, Cilento, Costa d'Amalfi, Falerno del Massico, Galluccio, Guardia Sanframondi/Guardiolo, Irpinia, Ischia, Penisola Sorrentina, Sannio, Sant'Agata dei Goti, Solopaca and Vesuvio).
The area’s prestige is centered on one red variety that has put the Taurasi DOCG in the spotlight, and three white varieties, of which two give the DOCGs Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo their names. The king of reds is the Aglianico (ellenico) introduced to this area by the Greeks, and later cultivated by the Romans. The white protagonists are Greco, which like Aglianico was brought to Campania by the Greeks, and Fiano which dates back more than two thousand years, its name coming from Vitis Apiana meaning vine beloved of bees. The white Falanghina is also highly regarded, and is the mainstay of the Falerno del Massico and Galluccio wines. It was praised as one of the finest grapes because of its honeyed sweetness, by Pliny the Elder, an ancient philosopher who often talked of vino veritas (there is truth in wine) in his writings.
Alongside the region’s shining stars, is the plethora of little-known gems. To name but a few, there are the Biancolella and Forastera, the backbone of the white wines of Ischia, one of the first area's in Italy to be granted its DOC status. Suppezza, Sabato and Sciascinoso (locally called Olivella because of its olive-shaped grapes – used in blends to bring a touch more color and acidity to the wine), also play their part in the Sorrento Peninsula wines, Gragnano, Lettere and Sorrento. Along the Amalfi coast, the aromatic and orange blossom-infused Ravello and Furore wines are distinctive by means of the interesting local Fenile, Ripolo, Pepella and Ginestra grapes, and in the Aversa plains, the Asprinio variety, producing a dry white or zesty sparkling wine, gives the DOC Asprinio di Aversa its name. Let’s not forget the Coda di Volpe vine, reminiscent of a fox’s tail, due to the way the grapes grow in long bunches. The grape also plays a role alongside Verdeca, Greco di Bianca and Falanghina in the Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio whites.
There are also those varieties nick-named the ‘vines of fire’, thriving in the volcanic soils for which Campania is renowned. Of the reds, the most prominent is the Piedirosso, (locally known as Per’e Palummo), a variety which takes its name from the gnarled red bases of the vines, conjuring up an image of the red feet of a native dove. This grape gives rise to the burnt-red color of the Campi Flegrei, Sant'Agata dei Goti, Ischia, Capri and Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio reds. Falanghina is the white ‘volcanic’ variety.
Campania’s success story is furthermore due to the varied climates and terroirs. Home to around 46,800 hectares (100,000 acres) of vines, viticulture is in its element thanks to an abundance of sunshine, dry hot summers, mild winters, a long growing season and volcanic soil (its composition saw to it that phylloxera was kept at bay). Additional influences are the coastal Mediterranean breezes blowing in from the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Apennine Mountains that temper the heat, to encourage a bright acidity in the fruit. These factors also contribute to the unique qualities of Campania wines. For instance, an inland Falanghina grown on the slopes where there is more rainfall, offers more fragrant notes than those found on the coast, where the climate is continental and tend to be mellower.
Despite being ensconced in tradition, today’s wine styles are fruit forward and youthful, the whites known for their aromatic characters, often redolent of the local flora, whilst the reds mainly from Aglianico are big personalities, which require a little ageing. Dynamic and innovative methods have helped improve the quality of Campania’s wines via better vineyard management, harvesting methods and cellar techniques. A particularly notable name in the world of Campania wine is Antonio Mastroberardino, a pioneer for tradition and innovation, and the most respected, experienced and knowledgeable winemaker of the area.