Tante Belle Cose is a free newsletter, but my teaching and tours in Italy support all my writing. As such, I hope you won’t mind that this week’s edition is also an invitation to join me in Italy, either for “5 Days in Naples” which has room for two more guests (we just had a cancellation), or for Fall in South Italy” a retreat timed with the olive harvest.
Among my favorite words in Italian is stregato — bewitched. Though I have visited the temples of Paestum well over a dozen times, my last visit in May left me, particularly stregata. Their sheer survival is shocking at nearly 3,000 years old, and their history is fascinating, with so much yet still to uncover. But something weird happened as I walked across the archaeological park, crunching through purple wildflowers as the sun sliced across my vision; that made me feel how this was ground ruled by supernatural forces for centuries. When Hera and Athena were worshipped here, the air outside would have been filled with the smell of incense, mixed with the aromas of grilled meat from the animal sacrifices, surely accompanied by song or chanting. Nothing — absolutely nothing — on those temple grounds would feel normal.
Yet, the way I believe to best access the ancient past is to participate in the traditions of what has been customary for thousands of years.— transforming grapes into wine and olives into oil because doing so is timeless. It’s a rhythm that you jump back into with the help of careful stewards, even if you’ve never done so before.
This is the itinerary for Fall in South Italy, a week-long retreat to immerse yourself in Italy’s most memorable season, made for those who love myth, nature, food, and wine. It was designed to pull you from your usual, like that gorgeous experience I had of feeling stregata at the temples, to experience something timeless.
October 8 - Noon pickup in Naples. Dinner at Borgo La Pietraia's on-premise restaurant
October 9 - Morning tour of Tenuta Vannulo, Italy's best buffalo mozzarella producer.
Lunch at Santomiele in the Cilento National Park where figs into luxury confections, followed by a vineyard visit and wine tasting at DeConcilis.
October 10 - Harvest the olives at Borgo La Pietraia, followed by a picnic lunch beneath the trees. In the afternoon, we'll visit a frantoio to see how the olives are pressed and transformed into oil.
Evening visit to Trentinara, a nearby small village, for wine and dinner in the village's historic center.
October 11- Visit to Salerno with a guided tour of the medieval city followed by a free afternoon to have lunch and go shopping.
Evening visit to the temples of Paestum followed by dinner nearby with time after dinner to see the temples lit up after dark.
October 12 - Explore the Cilento Coast by boat with a chance to swim in the Cove of the Sirens.
Dinner in Capaccio with a view of the sea.
October 13 - Cooking Class with Chef Mario Stellato. Learn how to conserve the harvested olives and make focaccia bread and other olive oil dishes.
October 14 - Free day to relax on the property, go for a hike, or make a reservation at a nearby luxury spa.
October 15 - Morning transfer back to Naples train station.
For more information, visit: https://www.feasttravel.com/fallinsouthitaly
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