I have to admit, I do take what I’m doing for granted, living in another country with the ease of being a dual citizen. Walking past St. Peter’s twice a day and rarely looking back.
So when I actually stop and say “this is one of the best experiences” I do know it’s probably far better than I think.
Back home I grew up in the Victorian wine region, every Queens birthday long weekend there is an event called winery walkabout. Basically 20 thousand people descend on this small area and go from winery to winery sampling the local wines and produce. For us, it’s an excuse to get a large group of friends, dress up in ridiculous costumes, and go around pretending we like drinking wine.
This year, along with my friend who came to visit, was the first year we have missed this main event.
This is where Antonio Mastroberardino and his vineyard come into play. We were determined to have our own ‘walkabout’. It took me hours of searching but I finally found a winery close to Pompeii, literally on Mt Vesuvius. The next challenge, getting to said winery. We decided to try our luck, turn up in Pompeii and try to grab a taxi. We could never of expected things to happen as they did.
We arrive at the train station, to be harassed by the tour sellers, I say “we want to go to the winery” pointing to the website on my phone, the response, ” Si Si, we drive you”. This is literally what happened, the son of the salesman pulled up and told us to get in, without hesitation and without paying a cent we complied.
Ten minutes later we were on a vineyard tour, with our driver as our translator. Antonio the owner explained the different grapes and the wines, while we wandered between hundred-year-old grape vines.
Convinced we had been ripped off and this little solo adventure was sure to cost us a fortune, we bid farewell to our driver/translator and sat down for our tasting plate. Being the only people in the vicinity, Antonio had called his niece in to work so she could explain everything to us in English. It was unbelievable, every plate of fresh produce, all grown on site was accompanied by a glass of wine. All this, and Antonio being the typical Italian new best friend, sneakily refilling our glasses every time his niece turned. Another bottle of his amazing red in the sun and it was a complete afternoon.
As we hesitantly approached the payment, we were still fearing the expense, imagine the shock when the total, for both of us was 50 euro. As we turned to leave, knowing we had no way back to the train station, Antonio and his wife were there in the car waiting, a lift back to town complete with a photo album viewing of them in their prime.
This was truly a once in a lifetime experience, no where else in the world can you drink wine and eat fresh food grown in ash-rich soil from Mt Vesuvius, and with the added hospitality from Antonio his wife Elena and family it is definitely something I will never forget. We certainly achieved our mission of finding our own ‘walkabout’ away from home.