Laces of The Boot — Campania, Italy

by The Boulevardiers

 

View from Centola, Campania, Italy, photograph by Kim Steele

View from Centola, Campania, Italy, photograph by Kim Steele

 

The Cape of Palinuro is a delicious slice of timeless travel, it is a sight to behold along the Cilento coast…we hesitate a bit in saying this, as it is sort of a secret…

 

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Santa Maria Li Piani, photograph by Kim Steele

According to Virgil´s ancient legend, Aeneas´ unfortunate helmsman Palinuro fell overboard close to the coast, giving his name to the Cape. It’s always been a destination region, first named by the Romans, who tagged it the campania felix, or “happy land”.

Palinuro is in the province of Salerno, the sixth province in the Campania region of Italy.

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From Wikipedia: The region is steeped in Greek mythology and legends, as in the names of some towns, which is also visible in the remains of the colonies of Velia (ancient Elea) and Paestum (ancient Poseidonia). Velia was also the seat of “Eleatics”, a school of pre-Socratic philosophers as Parmenides, Zeno of Elea and Melissus of Samos). In the 1990s it was proposed to make Cilento a new province of Campania. This proposal has never come near to implementation; in particular there was the difficulty of choosing an administrative centre.

Campania — From Italy World Club: Originally inhabited by the Ausoni (or Aurunci) and Opici, In the 8th century BC the region was colonized by the Greeks who founded the city of Cuma. In the 6th century BC the Etruscans established around Capua a federation of twelve towns, which fought and defeated the Greeks in 524 and 474 BC. Then in the 5th century BC both Capua and Cuma were conquered by the warlike Samnites. Between 343 and 290 BC three wars were fought between Samnites and Romans, who finally occupied the region. Rich Roman families built villas and gardens in the beautiful Neapolitan Gulf, until the ominous Vesuvius eruption in 89 AD covered in lava the Roman cities of Pompei and Ercolanus.

After the fall of the roman Empire Campania was alternatively under the Goths and the Byzanthines, then it was conquered by the Lombards in 570 AD who established here the Dukedom of Benevento, while Amalfi became a rich independent sea trade center. In 1139 the region was conquered by the Normans, then became part of the Kingdom of Sicily under the Anjou (13th century) and Aragonese (15th century). The Spaniards (1503-1707) were followed by the Austrians (1707 to 1734) until Charles VII Bourbon (1734) became King of Naples. After the unity to Italy in 1860 there arose serious economic problems, among them a cholera epidemic in 1884, events which started a massive exodus of the population to the North of Italy and abroad. During WW2 the Allied Anglo-American forces landed at on 9 September 1943 and the bombings that followed, as well as the destruction caused by the retreating Germans caused innumerable victims among the population.

 

US 5th Army guards at the Temple of Neptune, Paestum, Campagnia, Italy, 1943

US 5th Army guards at the Temple of Neptune, Paestum, Campagnia, Italy, 1943

 

The Campania region of Italy stretches from the southern Apennine mountain range to the coastline between the Gulf of Gaeta and the Gulf of Policastro. Campania is divided into 5 Provinces, including 551 municipalities, with a total population of over 5,700,000 inhabitants. It is a region celebrated for its climate, the fertility of the lands and the astonishingly beautiful landscapes. The territory is mostly gentle hills, apart from the Matese mountains bordering Molise and the rugged Irpinia area. Vesuvius in the Gulf of Naples is one of the very few still active volcanoes in Europe. The two beautiful gulfs of Naples and Salerno, separated by the Sorrento peninsula, are world famous for the high cliffs, sandy bays , grottoes and islands (Ischia, Procida, Capri).

 

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Villammare Beach, photograph by Kim Steele

The movie Jason and the Argonauts was filmed in Capaccio, Salerno and Campania in Italy. Other filming locations included Paestum, Centola, Palinuro, Rome and Lazio. Campania recently also hosted Sony’s “Angels and Demons” at the Versailles-like Caserta palace, which doubles for the Vatican and was also used for “Mission: Impossible 3″ and several “Star Wars” installments.

The population is concentrated around Naples and Salerno, while the mountainous hinterland has a low population density. Agriculture is mostly intensive, cattle raising and fishing, and crafts based on coral and ceramics are sill quite important.

Campania is a place to really relax. Hidden private little beaches, beautiful sunsets, places to wander, cool beautiful evenings.

Our amazing adventure in Campania was spontaneous, gracious, and divine. Two words: Tenuta Vanullo. Set in picturesque Capaccio Scalo, near the picturesque Paestum temples and ruins, this farm quickly sells out of production every single day. The lines queued up are lengthy. You really have to see what goes into this artistry to get a sense of it, so here we go, photographs by buffalo mozzarella addict and photographic maestro Kim Steele.

Tenuta Vanullo, photograph by Kim Steele

Tenuta Vanullo, photograph by Kim Steele

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tenuta Vanullo commenced operations in 1902. Today it is home to 300 adult water buffalo, and their offspring. The original water buffalo stock came from India in the 7th century. The water buffalo were brought to Italy to work, they were not river buffalo (the given name for Italian water buffalo in India). The first buffalo mozzarella production in Italy was in Capua, during the 15th century.

Water Buffalo mom & baby (born morning of being photographed), photograph by Kim Steele

Water Buffalo mom & newborn (born morning of being photographed), photograph by Kim Steele

 

The ratio at Tenuta Vannulo  is 2 males for each 75 females. Water buffalo have to stay constantly wet, their care & feeding is precise. All products fed to these water buffalo are grown on the farm: alfalfa, cereal, corn. The water buffalo get massages from car-wash looking contraptions and then are more in the mood to be milked.

 

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Massage, water buffalo style, photograph by Kim Steele

Water buffalo milk is exceptionally rich, hence the unequaled taste sensation, containing 90%  fat per 1 kilo of milk. During each female buffalo’s dry period, they are let out to the fields to graze and take dips in a lake. Female’s near to the date of giving birth are separated to a prenatal pen. The gestation period is 10 months. Water buffalo start giving milk at 3 years old.

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Pepe, water buffalo farm hand, photograph by Kim Steele

 

 

 

 

 

 

The mozzarella process begins before dawn at 4:00am, with buffalo milk and enzymes. The mixture takes 4 hours to curd, it is filtered, not pasteurized. Heated to 360 degrees, the active enzyme is derived from the 4th part of the stomach of baby water buffalo.

 

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Buffalo mozzarella production, photograph by Kim Steele

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Buffalo mozzarella production, photograph by Kim Steele

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After heating, the mixture is put into a large hot water tank, then into a cold water bath.

 

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Buffalo mozzarella production, photograph by Kim Steele

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buffalo mozzarella is famous for its “cut” which uses only 2 fingers, the thumb and index finger. The cut is not perfectly round, and is made into 4 distinct shapes.

 

 

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The cut, buffalo mozzarella production, photograph by Kim Steele

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purists and connoisseurs know that Buffalo mozzarella is never refrigerated. The mozzarella is left in water, packaged and sold…or in the case of Tenuta Vanulla, sold out…every day. If there was an leftover production, it could be left in water for 1 day, after which it is “no good.”

 

 

We had unbelievably savory fresh buffalo mozzarella, 3 flavors of buffalo gelato, buffalo ricotta, and were sent off on our way to Tivoli, and then Rome with a cooler full of scrumptiouness.

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King of the Tenuta Vanullo castle, photograph by Kim Steele

The owners of Tenuta Vanullo were immensely gracious and welcoming to us. We are forever grateful for this uncommon end to our latest Italian journey. There are so many reasons why we return to Italy on a regular basis. The quality of the people, the everyday vistas, the wandering, the ever-present history and the pride in all of this provides solace for our souls. Grazie mille e speriamo di vedervi presto!

Tenuta Vanullo, photograph by Kim Steele

Ruins at Paestum, photograph by Kim Steele

 

 

 

 

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