Napoli and Monte Vesuvio

Monte Vesuvio
"Vesuvius was formed as a result of the collision of two tectonic plates, the African and theEurasian" (Wikipedia).
I remember reading the Volcano Lover by Susan Sontag on the airplane returning to NYC from my first trip to Italy (I did the typical Florence, Rome and Venice in ten days).  I was twenty one years old and recall no more than images of an old-fashioned Napoli, an obsessive art collector and lover of Mt. Vesuvious, a somewhat compelling heroine, and their numerous walks up and down the volcano -- which I thought was weird. However, the book injected Vesuvius into my world, releasing this exigent tenderness towards a Volcano that had no apropos to my life. . . until Italian wine and I became lovers.

In Napoli you can even find vines growing on the beach, in the city.  It was a sight to be seen

As much as I prefer Northern Italian wines such as my recent obsession with Piedmont, my undying love for Tuscany, my respect for the exciting styles of Friuli, don't forget the whites of Liguria are high on my list, and some of my all time faves from Trentino Alto Adige, when it comes to Southern Italy I have been captured by almost anything grown in volcanic soil.  
What is it about this volcanic soil? 
It was at least 100 degrees out

Volcanic soil is rich in almost all the minerals that are "vital to the health of vines" (Wikipedia).  It's full of Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, and even Potassium.  If you have never grown anything before, which seems to be of the norm these days, being full of vital minerals is a very impressive trait.  Imagine how your own body feels when it's satiated with vitamins.
When I think of these wines, grown in rich volcanic soil, I feel jitters in my mouth.  They have a dancing quality to them that do not ring as specifically elegant or austere but jazzy.  They are in the groove.  To me they are comparable to food that has the perfect sprinkle of salt on top -- more flavorful -- without being doused with a smack.  I went to Campania unexpecting to return singing praise to it's wines, but I had some remarkable bottles while I was there.  The exciting part for me was that there are still plenty of wineries that are not being imported to NY and it's always a pleasure to find affordable wines on a list that you've never tried before and that really impress you.
Massy and I stayed in a bed and breakfast along the lungomare

Along the lungomare, which is the long road that borders the port at Napoli, where one can take a quick boat ride to Capri or Ischia (we went to Capri), you truly feel like you are not anywhere close to a place with a dangerous reputation.  From day to night, couples congregate by twos along the seaside concrete walls necking, joking, pinching, and hugging.  Joggers in tight lycra outfits stained with sweat pass by as if training for some serious athletic competitions.  If you are lucky like I was you will see men in tight one pieces, almost like a wrestler's uniform -- bright blue with the Italian red, white, and green flag and Italia.  It's fantastic. 
I will briefly mention our experience with garbage overload in Napoli.  The first day we arrived I thought that it wasn't that much dirtier than NYC.  When we returned from Capri I really understood what all the rumors were about.  Garbage was more than overflowing the sidewalks.  Almost every street block you had to walk around the heaping piles onto the roads and avoid oncoming traffic because you couldn't pass along the sidewalks.  Then add the 100 degree heat and how many days the garbage sits outside unattended too and you have one stinky city, beautiful, but reflective of the challenges that confront Italy and not just Napoli.

There is a hubbub in Napoli different from the other Italian cities
Although nicer than the Hudson River in NY, Massy and I did not throw on our bathing suits and go for a swim during our brief stay in Napoli.

I took long walks instead and photographed some sexy Italian naked men.
Jordana NicoleComment