Vacations tend to be experiential in nature. That is, the most memorable vacation will often get stuck so fondly in your memory because of some character you met there, or a particularly warm way you are treated by the locals, or even some intangible you can’t quite put your finger on, only feel, the murmur of a river through your bedroom window at night, peace.
Because Tufo is not a tourist destination, it doesn’t provide a tourist experience. It’s close enough to make easy day trips of some of Southern Italy’s greatest hits, but Tufo itself is empty of tourists and tourist attractions, and full of real people and unadulterated culture. This is a special place, and so we aim to attract a special kind of traveler, one who values the authentic over the commercial, the experience over the commodity.
Take cooking lessons with the Lucianos, whose pasta fagioli is the best we’ve ever had. Take a tour of the centuries-old Cantine di Marzo, seated underneath the thousand-year old Castello Longobardo, and speak with the owner about what makes Greco di Tufo different from other Southern Italian white tines. And come down to Barcollo in the evenings, play cards with the Tufese, sing karaoke, or play and dance to traditional Italian folk music.
Tufo is a special place, full of unforgettable people and stories, and all the while emanating a kind of familial magic you just might forever after associate with the smell of basil.
Details and History
The city of Tufo, pop. one thousand, is tucked in the hills between the two provinces of Benevento and Avellino that comprise Irpinia, the eastern half of the Campania region, sometimes described as the Switzerland of Italy.
Here life is held in the middle of an ancient medieval village. Festivals, lively outdoor markets, the countryside and acres of lush vineyards that produce some of the best wines of the bel paese–Greco di Tufo, Taurasi and Aglianico del Vulture.
Cantine di Marzo is right up the hill from Rosa, and is Tufo’s oldest surviving winery by a long shot. Since the 1647 the di Marzo’s have been producing Greco di Tufo, and Ferrante, the current owner, provides an excellent tour and history lesson on Tufo itself, followed by a very thorough wine tasting!
The rhythms of daily life and the generations-old customs in Tufo provide a travel experience that immerses you in fascinating legends and medieval settlements, towns and villages. Rosa di Tufo sits at the bottom of Tufo, in the section the Tufese call Codacchio, dialect for ‘the tail of town.’
From the house it is an easy walk up the hill on cobbled stoned streets through piazza Umberto, up to the summit of the city to the restored castle of Tufo.
The town grew up around the castle during the Longobard period, 568-774 AD. The Lombards were a Germanic language of people that has dominated a large part of Italy until the VII century. Also within walking distance from the house are the sulfur mines and the mill, considered to be the oldest example of industrial architecture in the European Union, the San Michele Arcangelo di Cave and the cemetery where in the beginning the inhabitants of the village have celebrated their patron saint and the river Sabato, which is part of the largest water catchment area in the whole of Europe.
The word Sabato is derived from the Hebrew Shabbat, but also by the legends of the witches of Benevento, dating back to the VII century. Each step taken through Tufo calls to mind the age of this place and the weight of that age.