The Sunday Hop: Every Thursday morning at 5:00 am, trucks come from Terzigno (a vineyard near Pompeii) to drop off twenty-five mammoth 54-liter jugs of wine at the family-run Il Vignaiolo.
Angelo has owned the shop for thirty-eight years. He and his son, Antonio, together sell elegant wines and provide a quaint reprive for regulars who come and sip a cup of wine poured from wine spouts along the wall. Many people also bring empty plastic water bottles, which they fill for a mere 1.50 Euro.
The wine shop also has its own underground -- one of the many privately owned cavities in the city. The cellar of Il Vignaiolo, during ancient times, was a street of Naples. Today, a small lift transports beverages to the bottom and the owners use the spiral staircase to keep the shelves of their shop stocked. The cellar consists of three large rooms. At the very back, an old Greek well is used for storing empty boxes and crates.
When I visit, I'm served coffee and meet the whole family, including Stephanie Dardanello (the American wife of Antonio) and Carolina (the mother who often cooks for everyone in the shop's back kitchen).
I ask them my most burning wine question: Why are so many red wines in southern Italy fizzy? Often I'll buy a bottle of red wine that tastes slightly carbonated. Antonio says it's a kind of grape cultivated here. The fizzy red wines are best drunk cold during the summer along with a light dinner.
Thanks to Stephanie, Antonio, and the whole family for the nice visit! Wonderful to meet you.
Address: Il Vignaiolo, Via Miscericordiella, 4-5, Napoli. (In Piazza Cavour diagonally across from a pizzeria.)