The Best of Italy in Irpinia
A territory in the province of Avellino in the Campania region, Irpinia is blossoming into one of the most popular destinations in Italy, thanks to its abundance of culture, history, nature, archeology, art, food and wine traditions.
Since ancient times, Irpinia has represented a transit land between the Tyrrhenian and the Adriatic Seas. To this day, there are still traces of ancient influences deriving from the prehistoric times and the Samnite times, in addition to Roman and the medieval times.
Irpinia boasts an exceptional artistic, historical and archaeological heritage which makes it one of the most surprising areas of the Apennines. There are six archaeological sites, including the ancient Abellinum (the town from which Avellino derived its name), where visitors can travel back in time through roads and places that trace back to prehistory and up to the Middle Ages.
Immersed in a natural setting of great beauty, Irpinia is a land of feuds, principalities and baronies, and home to numerous castles and fortresses.
In the provincial capital of Avellino, with its castle unusually rising in a valley rather than on a hill, the discovery of the Irpinian castles begins with the Lancellotti Castle, majestically overlooking the village of Lauro. The Basilica of Avellino is made up of two components: to the north is the most important part of the Basilica, the Chapel of Saint Modestino, which preserves in precious caskets the relics of the patron saint of the diocese and a silver bust of him; to the south is the Chapel of the Holy Trinity, so called because it contains a bas relief of the Trinity of the mid-16th century.
In the town of Taurasi, renowned for its wine production, visitors can admire the impressive Gesualdo Castle, which used to be the baronial residence of famous Italian nobleman Prince Carlo Gesualdo.
The city of Volturara Irpina rises in the picturesque Piana del Dragone (Plain of the Dragon), which represents the largest catchment area in Southern Italy and is located between the slopes of the mounts Costa and Faggeto. The city’s medieval castle, which is undergoing renovations, was erected during the Norman times.
A trip through Irpinia cannot leave aside the flavors, colors and aromas of the region’s gastronomic delights, with their abundant cheeses, cured meats, desserts and age-old recipes, all complemented by the local wines.
Irpinia also boasts three DOCG wines, which have gained worldwide recognition while providing a boost to the local economy.
Taurasi, DOCG since 1993, is made from either 100% Aglianico grapes, or at least 70% with the addition of other red grape varietals. The wine has a ruby-red color and intense aroma, and is full-bodied and robust on the palate. This wine is produced in 17 towns in the province of Avellino, with much of the production coming from the town of Taurasi itself.
Greco di Tufo, DOCG 2003, is obtained from an ancient grape varietal known as Aminea Gemina. It has a yellow color and is dry on the palate with an intense and pleasant bouquet with peach and almond notes.
Fiano, DOCG in 2003, is a straw-colored wine with a delicate bouquet, with hazelnut and floral notes including acacia and hawthorn. It is fresh and dry on the palate, but without being bitter. It is an ideal accompaniment to dishes that contain fish and shellfish, and makes a superb aperitif.
Like many ancient Italian areas, the gastronomy of Irpinia is based on tradition. It has its own variety of cured meat called Soppressata Irpina, which is produced in large quantities in Mirabella Eclano and Torella dei Lombardi. The production of the meat has spread throughout the entire territory, where it is produced by farmers that smoke the salami over an oak fire leaving this delicacy with an unmistakable flavor.
Cheese and dairy production traditionally comes from the Terminio and Partenio areas, where cows and sheep are reared. The most famous cheeses include Pecorino Bagnolese, obtained from the milk of a specific breed of sheep known as Bagnolese, and Pecorino Carmasciano, made from cow’s milk.
In Irpinia, the tradition of homemade pasta and bread is widespread. A special bread in the region is Pane di Montecalvo, from the town of Montecalvo, a place with a rich history of popular legends and beliefs. Visitors have the chance to taste this delicious bread during one of the oldest festivals in Campania, the “Sagra dei Cicatielli e del Pane di Montecalvo,” held on August 15.
Irpinia is also known worldwide for its outstanding olive oils, obtained from the Ravece variety around Ariano Irpino in the Ufita valley and the Middle Calore valley. Irpinia Colline dell’Ufita DOP oil is the result of a perfect harmony between the environment and tradition.