South of Somewhere by Robert Camuto

South of Somewhere

Wine, Food, and the Soul of Italy

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  • “I can’t do this book justice. It’s so vivid, so emotional, so beautiful and yet so powerfully instructive… if you want to understand the terroir of southern Italy, this book is where you start.”

  • Best Wine books of 2021: [Camuto] gives us an engaging snapshot of a region chafing at its inferior stature compared with northern Italy. We meet ambitious younger generations clashing with their parents over values both cultural and viticultural. The winemakers and their families Camuto introduces us to are not unlike those Somerville and Ross met more than a century ago. And they’re not unlike us though they may eat better. Both books invite us to travel — one through time the other to a rugged land of spicy salumi down-to-earth folk and honest wines. Darn it — Where’s my passport?”

    Dave McIntyre, The Washington Post
  • “There’s an affable tone to this intelligently charming wine book, it's a serious account of winemaking in southern Italy, essays that can best be categorized as 'down to earth,' in every sense. . . . This is not the usual account of visits to grand chateaux, with splendid meals and wines we can't afford, it's the reality of wine, vividly and cheerfully conveyed—good stories, worth a listen. Take it from someone who never says no to a glass of Frappato in Sicily: Bravo!”

    Brian St. Pierre, The Wine Conversation
  • “Robert Camuto’s South of Somewhere is close to my heart. Each chapter is about experiencing the joy and perseverance of incredible iconic winemakers, from Italy’s Mezzogiorno, who have preserved lesser-known native grapes through heroic efforts. In this book, Robert brilliantly brings them to life. We are so fortunate to bear witness to this living history of Italian wine today.”

    Shelley Lindgren, owner and wine director of A16 restaurant
  • “A delicious, thirst-inspiring romp full of remarkable personalities, their wine-soaked cellars, and one delectable meal after another. Camuto does it tastefully!”

    Kermit Lynch, wineconoclast, author, and importer
  • “Robert Camuto’s multifaceted take on Southern Italy’s many allures is unique and fascinating in that he engages not only the gustatory and oenological pleasures of the region but also its more elusive and near-magical ‘southern-ness’.”

    Matthew Gavin Frank, author of Flight of the Diamond Smugglers

South of Somewhere begins and ends in American writer Robert Camuto’s maternal ancestral town of Vico Equense, Italy — a tiny paradise south of Naples on the Sorrento Peninsula.

It was here in 1968, at ten years old, that the author first tasted Italian life, spending his own summer of love surrounded by relatives at the family’s seaside pizzeria and restaurant. He fell in love with a way of living and with the rhythms, flavors, and aromas of the Southern Mediterranean.

Fifty years later, Camuto returns to Vico, connecting with family members and a new generation.

A lot has changed: the old family restaurant has been razed, and the seaside developed with hotels and restaurants, including a famous two-Michelin-starred restaurant in a medieval tower now owned by a younger cousin. Though there are more foreign visitors now, the essentials of beauty, food, family bonds, and simplicity have not changed. And here Camuto finds hope that this way of life can continue.

Camuto’s fine-grained storytelling in this series of portraits takes us beyond the usual objective views of viniculture and into the elusive and magical world of Italian “southern-ness.” South of Somewhere takes the reader on  a journey through the terroirs of Southern Italy today: from the Calabrian toe of the Italian boot and Sicily’s still active Mount Etna to earthquake-shaken land of Abruzzo; from the remote lands of Campania and Puglia to Basilicata’s Mount Vulture; from the old papal territory of Umbria to Rome’s once great Lazio and back to the evocative cliffs of the Amalfi coast

While on one level an instructive narrative about Southern Italy’s twenty-first-century wine and cultural renaissance, Camuto’s unswerving eye juxtaposes the good and the bad — immeasurable beauty and persistent blight, corruption and anti-mafia forces, hope for the future and fatalism — in a land that remains an infinite source of fascination and sensory pleasure.