With all the rich experiences available in this mostly undiscovered region, there's no end to what you could do in a day or more exploring the hilltop villages that make up this area. From wine tasting and eating lunch with winemakers and their families, to cooking classes, and exploring the historic villages of the area, you could enjoy spending a day or a week with all the region has to offer. The key is to slow down and allow yourself the chance to take it all in.
Below are some of my favorite ways to explore Irpinia...
The Wine The vineyards of Irpinia are surrounded by forests, intertwined with fruit and nut trees, and generally provide a stunning landscape as they cascade down the hillsides and wind up from the valleys. Even better, many of the wineries are family-run as they have been for generations allowing you to taste directly from barrels and steel tanks with the very people who are making the wine. You can even learn about Aglianico, Greco, Fiano and Coda di Volpe while sharing a meal with the winemakers and their families! Is there a better way to do a tasting?? It's the way they've always done it and a totally unique Iprinia experience.
The Food Irpinians have an agricultural history that has been passed down for generations in this area. This means there is an honest to goodness 0km farm to table culture that precedes the fads of today and a vegetable heavy diet that leads to some of the best Italian dishes you’ve never heard of before. From La Pignata in Ariano Irpino to La Pergola in Gesualdo, Ristorante Oasis Sapori Antichi in Vallesaccarda (Michelin stared 24 years and running), and Il Vecchio Mulino 1834 in Castelfranci, you'll be able to taste a modern take on the most classic Irpinia ingredients.
In spring and summer you’ll find cavatelli covered in spring fresh broccoli or zucchini (and their flowers) depending on the season. In the winter, there is pasta coated in local black truffles and wild mushrooms. The summer crop of tomatoes will be jarred in every house of the region, preserving the fresh flavors for months of sugo and ragu to come. Fried and stuffed zucchini flowers as well as stuffed peppers are a summer staple and pumpkin everything fills plates in the winter.
Learning to Cook One of my favorite spots in Irpinia is without a doubt Antica Trattoria Di Pietro located in Melito Irpino. Here, the Di Pietro family has been serving some of the most incredible traditional Irpinia dishes since 1934, with recipes preserved through the generations in their family for which they've won just about every award you can think of from Michelin to the Italian food guides. Each visit is a tour of the region's history in each plate that arrives on your table, and if I'm being honest, I've been known to spend hours (aka - entire days) here even when just a coffee and a chat had been on the agenda. Send me a note and I’ll get you set up to meet Anita, Teresa, and Crescenzo during your next visit. You'll immediately feel like part of the family as they teach you their family's secrets for perfect Irpinia dishes you can make at home.
Exploring the villages From Gesualdo's historic center and castle that once housed the Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Irpinia to Rocca San Felice's medieval village and neighboring sulfur volcano, Mefite, there's no end to how you can get lost wandering the roads of Irpinia's hilltop towns. And best part, I can help you map out the best routes to explore!
The Next Generation I love highlighting where the next generation of Irpinians is hard at work promoting the territory. You won't want to miss Giuseppe at Azienda Agricola D'Apolito, who is making some of the region's best carmasciano cheese. At night, be sure to stop by Vineria La Posta in Grottaminarda with Roberto Buliogne De Filippis to try an incredible selection of wines paired with the tastiest bites.