Vaulting Vesuvius and Volcanic Vino

Volvanic vines

Volvanic vines

We so wanted to climb up Vesuvius. Our hotel, right at the edge of the National Park, looked like it was perfectly placed for an ascent on foot. We asked at reception about it and they said ‘no, not any more, now you must take a bus up’. This did not appeal to our sense of adventure entirely but maybe we’d be able to walk down. We asked the tank-bus ticket-seller about it, he said, in that very Italian way, ‘maybe’. We got on the tank bus. When we got off we asked the driver about walking down. He wasn’t ok with that at all but we did negotiate some extra time at the rim of the volcano’s crater. We were blessed with remarkably clear weather that day, though a haze hung over Naples (smog?) and Klara took some great photos. I left the big camera in the car.

After failing to climb the volcano we returned to the hotel and considered a late lunch. A winery we’d passed on the drive to the tank-bus place, called Cantina del Vesuvio had been recommended. Organic, sulphite free, grown in the volcanic soil. Sounded great and the wine was indeed excellent. The wine is called Lacryma Christi (Tears of Christ) and the variety it is made from is said to date back to the 5th century BC. The legend has it that Christ’s tears of sadness fell on Vesuvius and the vines sprang forth. Not sure I’m buying that, but the wine’s worth picking up a bottle of if you’ve got farther to go or checked luggage to take it home in.

The place definitely has a reputation and the horde of boorish (boarish even) cruise-ship passengers that departed by Mercedes Vitos shortly after we arrived could have made the experience less pleasant if we had arrived earlier. Amazing grown on-site tomatoes which featured heavily in the dishes and a stroll around the vineyard with the lady of the house as she explained their wine-growing process (nice when it’s different to the usual – they don’t irrigate, just let the volcanic soil and rock act like a sponge, holding the water till the vines need it) made the visit to the NAME OF WINERY something worth repeating, just arrive after 2 pm to miss the cruisers.