Philharmonia Orchestra dir Esa-Pekka Salonen
Philharmonia Orchestra dir Esa-Pekka Salonen. Credit: Pino Izzo

Close your eyes and try to picture the Amalfi Coast, with its beautiful cliffs and green mountains. Taking in the atmosphere of the stylish, tiny towns dotted along the coast: Amalfi, Maiori, Ravello. Then add to this, the unique blend of its famous aromatic lemons, enchanting classical music and wonderful wine tasting under the stars. This whole experience can be found in a condensed version at the Ravello Music Festival, one of the most famous events in the world.

After 65 years, the Ravello Music Festival is still an exclusive kermesse where talented music directors, singers and orchestra perform every summer night. The whole calendar is available online http://www.ravellofestival.com.

One of the most exclusive concert is the famous “Concert at sunrise” at 4.45am that is highly recommended, as the scenario is breathtaking, with the stage, just facing the sea.

Whilst I attended a wonderful concert of classical music by Philharmonia Orchestra directed by Esa-Pekka Salonen, I enjoyed the following wine tasting on the porch of the stunning Villa Rufolo, just facing the gardens of the villa. The tasting was from local producers that, no doubt can be defined as “heroic winemakers”.

The Amalfi coast, mainly known for its aromatic lemons, is also home to fine wines: heroic vinegrowers dare the cliffs and the altitude, growing their vines in terraces. Needless to say, any operation in the vineyard is manual and harvest is probably the most challenging period of the year, as grape pickers climb over the cliffs with a kind of backpack of around 7 kilos, avoiding to squeeze grapes after cut. The coast is the place where you can easily find pre-phylloxera vines, of 100-120 years old, not crafted on American roots, but yet on the European roots. This incredible phenomenon is due to the sandy and volcanic soil, that scratched phylloxera bugs, avoiding its propagation in early 1900’s.

Marisa Cuomo vines
Credit: Marisa Cuomo

Wines at the tasting, served by sommeliers, in the main garden of Villa Rufolo, were by Marisa Cuomo, a prized Campania producer http://www.marisacuomo.com/.

Marisa and her husband, Andrea Ferraioli, have been committed to the discovery and use of ancient, unknown grapes native to the Amalfi coast, from Ginestra to Fenile to Ripoli, for almost 35 years. Today, this winery is very well known in Italy for their flagship wine, Fiorduva Costa d’Amalfi, using a blend of local grapes mentioned: Ripoli, Ginestra and Fenile. This award-winning wine receives several accolades and medals every year, from highly regarded competitions in the world, including Tre Bicchieri by Gambero Rosso.

The vineyard is breathtaking: the vines are grown on porches, facing the sea, from 100 to 750 metres above sea level. The harvest – generally in mid October – is by hand and all the family members become involved. The wine is refined in oak and aged in the bottle aloowing one to experience all its complexity in the glass. And so I did. The wines were served during Calici di Stelle in Ravello, just after the concert.

Its freshness, complex bouquet and creamy taste was a perfect pairing to the petit dessert it was served with. The famous chef, Sal De Riso, is another “must-try” if you are on the Amalfi Coast. This skilled chef and talented artist, mixes nouvelle cuisine with the local ingredients, inspired by the Campania landscape: serving a “volcano” chocolate cone, inspired by Mount Vesuvius, filled with bright red cherry jelly or ‘delizia al limone’ a luscious, sweet delicate lemon cream. Discover more here http://www.salderiso.it/

So…music, wine, dessert and above all, the beautiful Amalfi Coast: everything mixed in, as in Fellini’s film ‘La Dolce Vita’. But the best thing is, this is real and everybody’s invited to experience it. If you wish to, do not miss the next festival in 2018. It’s worth it!

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Campania Expert & Contributor: Alessia Canarino. Alessia has worked for a number of Campania-based wineries, namely Mastroberardino and Villa Raiano; is a qualified Sommelier having studied at the Italian Sommelier Association (formerly AIS) and took the Wine & Spirit Education Trust Level 3 Certificate. She is an active member of the association Donne del Vino (Women of Wine) and today works as a consultant for some wineries and wine tour operators. She lives in her beloved Irpinia, and is one of its most active ambassadors. (Editor: Jeremy Angelis)

Alessia Canarino

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