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Report 1008: 'I Vincitori' Learn to Get Lost in the Hills and Valleys of Italy

By Marian from New Jersey, Spring 2006

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Page 5 of 15: A Police Escort, Some Wine and Another Day at the Beach (Wednesday, 10 May)

photo by Marian

Giovanni at De Conciliis

I am driving as we head out of Perdifumo for our 10am appointment at the De Conciliis winery in nearby Prignano Cilento. Paola De Conciliis has given me directions over the telephone, and the village is not too far away (but of course up and down a mountain or two). However, we drive through the Prignano Cilento twice and still cannot find any sign of the winery. I call again and get more precise directions, but still it’s impossible to find. So we stop on a very narrow street in centro città and I get the attention of a policeman driving in the other direction. Yes, he knows the place (of course) and he will take us there! Everyone in the town (about a half-dozen people) watch as I execute the turn; they all smile and wave as our car follows the police car out of town.

Our guide is to be Giovanni, Paola’s husband, who meets us just inside the gate. (The policeman is well known to him, he says, and congratulates us on finding him still sober; he is apparently rather fond of their wine.) Giovanni is the produttore, and he shows us how the various sorts of wines are made, nearly all from the local aglianico grape. This is a small winery, where the wines, especially the wonderful Naima, are hand coaxed to maturity. At one stage in the process, someone must spend weekends and nights near the vats, adjusting the temperature every few hours.

Giovanni himself is Sardinian, and describes his love for that island. People from islands, he says, remain attached to them always. He has us taste several of the wines, including the Naima, and a couple of the stronger spirits.

We buy Naima, some of the cheaper but delicious Donnaluna (which we had drunk at Il Ceppo in Agropoli that first day), and some of the other spirits. The winery is apparently at a critical stage, in need of money for growth. Giovanni decries the fact that people drink his wine much too young; “it’s like killing a child”, he says. Apparently, at this point the winery cannot afford to keep the bottled wine long enough to age it properly. We promise to keep the Naima a few years before drinking it.

Our next goal is the fishing village of Acciaroli, almost too lovely to be real with its blue waters, colorful boats and distant hills. We walk along the jetty, which is in wonderful shape; its reconstruction is some sort of international project. Then we find an open restaurant (not easy in early May!), "Ristorante Pizzeria Porto di Mezzo" and have a very tasty pizza lunch (€53 inclusive for the four of us).

Time to go back, and I am still driving. Of course, we always must choose at various forks in the road, and my beloved brother assuredly directs us down a poorly maintained, narrow and endless mountain-hugging road. Will the road end? Will we ever get home?

We survive, as does the car. As we approach home, we stop for coffee and dolci at the pasticceria near La Ruota. That night we graze again for dinner, and watch the sunset. Giovanni has told us that, at this time of year, one can see the sun setting over distant Capri, and sure enough, we can watch this from our terrace. So, so beautiful.

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