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Current topics, themes, musings and travel notes

October 7, 2022

Into the volcano

Around the surreal landscape of Naples

In the last decade, Sicily’s Mount Etna has exploded into Italy’s hottest wine scene.  Volcanic wines have become a geeky fashion statement.

But a lot of so-called volcanic terroirs – like Germany’s Mosel – come from eruptions hundreds of millions ago.

Solfatara is one of the largest active craters in Naples province with smoldering plumes of sulforous gas

Does that really count as volcanic? To me, there’s is a big difference between “volcanic origin” soils and viticulture on an actual active volcano.

In the latter category you have the Naples are – a crazy surreal landscape of still fuming craters starting with the Campi Flegrei – 80 square miles of active supervolcano with dozens of craters alongside homes, schools, roads and vineyards.

“This is not like Etna where you look up and see the volcano. Here you live in the volcano,” says Gerardo Vernazzaro, the 46-year-old winemaker at his family’s Cantine Degli Astroni winery.

This goes a long way to explain the live-for-today attitude of Neapolitans and why local wines – mostly red Piedirosso and white Falanghina haven’t typically got much age on them.

Gennaro Schiano of Cantine del Mare

Pop the cork and carpe diem.

I love the Naples area and enjoy these easy drinking wines from Campi Flegrei to Vesuvius chiefly red Piedirosso and white Falanghina. But for many reasons they haven’t attracted the international scene that Etna has.

For more on the ins and outs of Naples volcanic terroirs, see my latest Robert Camuto meets… (free) at