Pompeii, Part II

After our huge ferragosto feast yesterday, today we are going to take a well deserved rest. 😉 Tomorrow morning we are heading for the Amalfi Coast, or Costiera Amalfitana in Italian, but, in order to avoid the huge crowds of tourists and endless traffic jams that are typical of the Costiera at this time of year, we will stop only in lovely Vietri, which is the first Costiera town you encounter after the city of Salerno. That way, we will be able to make a quick escape when it’s time to return home. Or so we hope! This will be our third visit to the Costiera, our second to Vietri.

Pompeii, estate 2007Back to our Pompeii visit. This (on the left) is one of my favorite photos, taken inside a house (I stupidly didn’t write down which one it was!). On the left is a lovely little fresco, on the right a window framing a (real) tree outside in the garden. I really liked the contrast.

One of the things that you cannot help noticing when wandering around the streets of Pompeii are the wine bars that were clearly very popular, since they appear on almost every street corner. My photo shows a wine bar with a counter that would have contained three clay pots filled with wine to be sold to thirsty passersby 2000 years ago. Wine bar, Pompeii 2007Day before yesterday, after walking around the hot city for a few hours, I almost wished that it had still been open for business! The wine of Pompeii was apparently excellent. It was highly praised by the Roman philosopher and naval commander Pliny the Elder–who, by the way, died during a vain but heroic attempt to rescue (with his ships) some of the unfortunate Pompeians during the 79 A.D. eruption–who reported that Pompeian wines were aged for 10 years (10 years!?! Modern wine-producers would go broke were that still the case!) inside clay jars, or dolii, buried to the lip.

Well, the Mastrobernardino family (famous southern Italian wine producers) has recreated this wine with the help of ancient frescoes, plant breeding and archaeological finds. The five tiny modern vineyards (one of which we saw during our walk on the outskirts of the city but duh, I neglected to take a photo!) have been planted on the same spot where the ancient vineyards of Pompeii used to be. How about that? Indeed, the same type of grapes that would have been used at the time were used to produce the modern version, called “Villa dei Misteri.” The first modern Pompeian harvest took place in 2001, and the first bottles were auctioned off in 2003. The proceeds from the auction were used to fund the restoration of the ancient wine cellars, which I think is absolutely brilliant. Every year, fewer than 2000 bottles of Pompeian wine are produced; they cost about 100 euros and are not easy to find. Of course, the experts cannot be sure that this recreated version is the exact same wine that the Pompeians drank, and in fact the first modern tasting apparently was met with an embarrassed silence. Perhaps Pliny was right: this type of wine needs to sit for 10 years before it can be fully appreciated. 🙂


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