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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

From Campania: Pasta Named for a Patron Saint + Wine from an Ancient Tale #ItalianFWT

Updated: Feb 5

This month the #ItalianFWT writers are a looking at wine pairings from Molise, Basilicata, and Campania. Jen of Vino Travels, and this group's founder, is hosting. For some reason, I thought that the prompt was Molise, Basilicata, and Calabria. Thankfully Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm and Robin of Crushed Grape Chronicles set me straight during our live chat for another wine group. Thanks, gals! Grateful!

We will be sharing our posts between Friday, March 3rd and Saturday, March 4th. And we will be meeting for a live Twitter chat. Here's the line-up...

Campania Memories

Even though I had planned a different pairing - Calabria, not Campania! - I pivoted because I will never turn down a chance to reminisce about Campania. I've been to Campania twice - once when I lived in Rome after college and once when I led a family trip to Italy for a three-week vacation. With the au pairs, we took a train from Rome to Naples and spent the day in Pompeii. With my family, we stopped for a couple of nights along the Amalfi Coast and visited Pompeii, too. Both of those visits were pre-digital; I was shooting slide film back then. And I had great intentions of scanning some slides to post with this, but time got away from me. One of these days I'll be able to share all of my photos. Till then, I'm taking photos of prints or slides themselves. Silly, I know.

My memories of Campania are rusty. But I remember wandering through the ruins at Pompeii with two other au pairs who had also studied Latin. We laughed that in California (me), Denmark (Rikke), and the United Kingdom (Catherine), teachers were using the exact same Latin book. Caecillius est pater. Matella est mater. Quintus est filius. Grumio est coquus. Cerberus est canis. With almost 15 years of Latin between the three of us, we wandered the ruins and were able to translate most of the text we encountered. That was so much fun.

Then I remember being chased through the streets all the way to the train station. I guess the three of us were quite a sight. The young men chased us with cat-calls and lots of inappropriate gestures. When Rikke, Catherine, and I finally collapsed on the benches at the station, we were in tears and passed the bottle of Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio between us to soothe our rattled nerves. In the thirteen months I lived in Italy, I never felt harassed like that. That was not so much fun.

I remember that Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio being a red wine. It was interesting for me to find it as both a red wine and white wine.

In the Glass: Wine from an Ancient Tale

I already mentioned that I had the wrong region on my calendar for this month's #ItalianFWT. But I did have a bottle of 2020 Mastroberardino Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Bianco from Campania on my rack. So, I paired it for this event.

The Mastroberardino family is responsible for the revival of winemaking in Irpinia and Campania after the end of World War II. They work primarily with the region's native varieties - Fiano, Greco, Aglianico, Piedirosso, and Coda di Volpe. Their vineyards lie below Mt. Vesuvius whose eruptions covered the land in mineral-rich volcanic ash and lapilli, small rock fragments from volcanic eruptions.

This wine is a single varietal being made of 100% Coda di Volpe grapes. It was harvested by hand, then fermented in stainless steel. It pours a beautiful pale yellow. On the nose, there are aromas of pear, apple, and citrus along with layers of summer stone fruits and herbaceous fennel. On the palate the wine has a smooth acidity with a medium body and pleasing structure. It was incredibly food friendly and I ended up pairing it with two quintessential Italian foods: pizza and pasta!

I almost forgot to share the ancient tale that I mention in my post title. This wine’s name - Lacryma Christi - means 'Tears of Christ' and comes from an ancient tale. There are many variations on it, but in the Italian version, Lucifer was cast out of heaven. As he fell towards earth, he desperately flailed and grabbed a chunk of heaven. When he reached the ground, he hurled it at the base of Vesuvius. When Jesus saw this, he wept. Those tears ran down the mountains and were made visible to humans in the streaks of lava flows down the sides of Vesuvius. Where Christ’s tears hit the Earth, vineyards grew at those spots.

In the Bowl: Pasta Named for a Patron Saint

There were many dishes from Campania that I could have made, but I was compelled to make a dish in honor of the patron saint of Naples: Spaghetti alla Gennaro. Italians are masters at making amazingly delicious pasta with just a few local ingredients. Just look at all'assassina, aglio e olio, and puttanesca. Spaghetti alla Gennaro falls in the same category. With a handful of staple ingredients, you can have this traditional Neapolitan pasta dish on the table in no time.

Through my research, I wasn't able to ascertain why Neapolitans named this anchovy pasta after their patron saint. However, it is traditionally eaten in Naples on St Gennaro’s feast day which is September 19th. So, you have plenty of time to gather the ingredients and make this tasty dish.


  • 12 ounces spaghetti (I don't use the entire 16 ounce package)

  • 2 ounces anchovy fillets, preserved in oil (I do use the entire tin)

  • I cup stale bread, cubed

  • 5 to 6 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed

  • 5 Tablespoons olive oil.

  • fresh basil leaves, washed and dried


  1. Put a pot of water to boil for the pasta. When the water boils, cook pasta according to package directions.

  2. Make croutons. Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a large, flat-bottom pan. Add the bread cubes and fry each side until crisped and golden brown. Remove the croutons from the pot and set aside.

  3. Make the sauce. Heat remaining 3 Tablespoons olive oil in the same pan. Stir in the garlic and anchovies. Stir until the anchovies start to melt. Remove from the heat.

  4. Assembly. When the pasta is cooked, pour 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water in to the pan the the sauce. Return the pan to the heat and turn the cooked pasta into the sauce. Toss to coat. Add in the croutons and stir to combine. Then add in the basil leaves and serve immediately.

That's a wrap for my March #ItalianFWT post. I already shared a Basilicata pairing: Coquilles Saint-Jacques + Paternoster Vulcanico Falanghina 2021; I will share a Molise pairing soon. And the group will be back next month with a look at Calabria and Sardinia. Stay tuned!

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