La Famiglia: Buccino & Festa della Madonna

By July 4, 2011Wine Tours
A view of Mount Vulture.

Image via Wikipedia

We arrived in Buccino late after a wonderful lunch at Osteria Reale high up in the Amalfi hills. It wasn’t far from the highway exit in kilometers but as we found out, the winding road up the Amalfi hills is deceptively long. We were greeted personally by the Mayor of Buccino in the town hall and were presented with gifts from the town.

The next morning we traveled to Barile in Basilicata for a tasting with Rino Botte at his winery, Marcarico. He is rightfully proud of his Tre Bicchieri award for his Aglianico del Vulture. After the tasting we had another wonderful lunch at Novecento in Melfi. We then made our way to the little town of San Gregorio Magno, known for its Via del Bacchus with about 500 grottos dating from the 1500’s and currently used as individually owned wine cellars. We were able to enter 4 of the grottos with the assistance of a member of the Mayor’s office and also had a tasting of local cheeses, including the fromaggio dei vermi: worm cheese! It actually was cheese with worms in it!

The next day was the 1st Sunday of July and the annual Festa della Madonna. According to local lore, it was on the 1st Sunday of July in 1534 when the town was cured of the Black Plague. It has been held ever since and features a procession of over 1,000 people through the streets, many barefoot and carrying huge candles. Before the procession started we had a guided tour of the historical center of Buccino which dates to pre-Roman times and a wonderful historical museum.

That evening we all went into town for the pagan portion of the festivities with a huge firework display at midnight, just in time for our 4th of July.

This morning we left Buccino early for the next leg of our La Famiglia tour to the Marche area. On our way we stopped for lunch in Ortona, Abruzzo, for a tour and lunch at the Agriverde winery where I purchased a bottle of their Tre Bicchieri award winning wine, Plateo.

Tomorrow we’ll start with a tour of the Sharecropper Museum (Mezzadria) and have the afternoon free for swimming in the Adriatic before leaving for a special evening in Stacciola.

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Author Vin Marottoli

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  • Letter of thanks to Wine Lover’s Tour

    Dear Vin,

    My wife ,Joy, son , Michael, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for making the 2011 Wine Lover’s “La Famila” Tour such a wonderful experience.

    I had the opportunity to travel with you to Italy back in 1999 and since then had always wanted to share the experience with my wife and son. I was also fortunate enough to invite my sister and brother in law to travel with us. Looking back, I know that I really couldn’t adequately describe what was in store for us on our journey.

    When traveling with Vin it feels like you are traveling with family. His attention to detail, preparation and knowledge make the trip so pleasurable and stress free. His sense of humor, passion for traveling and exploration and for making relationships with the tour participants as well as the inhabitants of the region traveled is a true gift. He sets the tone for a great trip from the minute you get off the plane.

    I want to thank you and your family for all you have to make the trip such a success on so many levels . We were able to experience the Italian culture through wine, amazing meals, cultural excursions and most importantly through the friendships and relationships formed on our trip.

    We still can’t stop talking about the food. It was like eating at our Nonnie’s house every day. The food was varied, beautifully prepared with great care and lots of love….just like I remember childhood meals. It was really like attending a wedding….every day!

    You also did a great job balancing areas and destinations that are regularly visited with some amazing undiscovered jewels. I really found that I felt most immersed in the Italian culture and heritage by visiting the little small villages and participating in some of the traditions and events from those towns.

    At Buccino, a hillside town and birthplace of Vin’s maternal Grandmother, we were participants in the Festival D’ Madonna. We actually walked in the procession with the members of the town during a candle lit vigil through the town , as well as the next day. We got to see world class archeological exhibits that are off the beaten path.

    In Staccioal, a small town in the Marches, we visited the birthplace of Vin’s Paternal Grandparents and my cousin Art and his wife Gail performed the Ave Maria and several other musical pieces in the small church………the same church that Art’s grandparents were baptized and married in.

    Vinny and his family also did something for me that I’m forever greatfull for. He arranged for me and my family to visit my Grandmothers birthplace in a small Marche town called Castelvecchio (Monte Porzio), PU and arranged for some of my Italian family members to join us for dinner. With out Vinny, it would have been impossible for me to share my roots with my wife and son. Vin’s skills at speaking Italian, Freanch and several other languages helped make the trip so much more richer and much more meaningful than a standard tour of a location.

    As a fine artist, I was able to take enough reference photos to paint from for years. Vin was so helpful in helping me get to areas where I could really capture the true Italian experience.

    I loved the variety of events , locations and activites. From the streets and waterfront vistas of Naples, to the mountainside dining in a little winery in Getti, to the incredible old world charm and traditions found in Buccino. I really fell in love with the seaside town of Sennigalia and the surrounding Marche region. It had the best of everything……… seaside living, great shops, beautiful museums, an “old town” filled with castles and history. We were minutes from the beautiful rolling hills and mountains that held museums, abbeys and some amazing restaurants.

    We ended our trip in Rome and were able to get a quick visit to the Vatican had an amazing farewell dinner and sang songs around the hotel’s piano. So appropriate………. We ended our trip singing, eating, drinking ,dancing and laughing……….that what the Italian culture is all about. “La Familia”, family, friendship and spending time together.

    If ever considering traveling , I highly recommend that you travel with Vin and his “Wine Lover’s Tours”.

    Mark Battista

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