Five experts reveal their insider tips, from a ceramics tour of the Amalfi Coast to a culinary drive in Emilia-Romagna.
Umbria: From the Vine
5 Ways to See Italy
Umbria: From the Vine
Winemaker Giampiero Bea shares his short list of standout natural vintners in central Italy.
Mineral-rich soil and a wide range of native grape varieties make Umbria an ideal center for organic wine production, says Giampiero Bea, who helps run his family’s winery outside the region’s medieval town of Montefalco. “Our wines are beyond organic—we use no chemicals at any stage of the process, from the vineyard to fermentation.” Bea, who joined Antica Azienda Agricola Paolo Bea in the 1980’s after training as an architect, is part of Consorzio ViniVeri, a small group of dedicated producers who are leaving their mark on Italy’s wine scene.
The Bea family’s Antica Azienda Agricola Paolo Bea is 25 miles south of Perugia near Montefalco. Stop by for a degustazione in the bio-architectural headquarters, constructed with radon-free travertine stone. Taste the Montefalco Sagrantino red, made from Sagrantino grapes, with sweet hints of blackberry and persimmon. From here, it takes just 10 minutes to reach Fattoria Colleallodole di Milziade Antano, where owner Francesco Antano organizes tastings by appointment amid metal and wooden barrels in a modern farmhouse cellar. The Sagrantino Colleallodole red is a limited-edition 14-degree cru reminiscent of wild berries. Follow a winding road through an olive-and-pine-tree-dotted landscape for about 15 minutes until you reach Cantina Collecapretta. This long-established producer makes chemical-free wines: Umbria Terra dei Preti has an intense, flinty flavor, and the bottles have charming old-fashioned green-and-white labels. Arrange a tasting in the cellars of the v
Bespoke travel agent Andrea Grisdale leads the way to the area’s best shopping.
Andrea Grisdale has visited just about every corner of Italy, yet the place that the Lake Como–based CEO of IC Bellagio keeps returning to is the Sorrentine Peninsula. “The bright blue water, fresh food, and Mediterranean sun make the Amalfi Coast one of my favorite places in the world,” says the U.K. native. “Most of all, I love the handmade ceramics: my house is full of them.” Rich with natural clay pits, the area has been known for pottery since the 13th century. Grisdale is especially partial to the tiles and dishware painted with the region’s palette: seaside azures, lemon yellows, and sunset pinks.
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The center of Amalfi Coast ceramics production since medieval times has been Vietri sul Mare. At the best factory and store, Ceramica Artistica Solimene Vincenzo, a building covered in 20,000 brown and green vase bases, you’ll find crockery designed with handsome, nature-inspired motifs (grapes, lemons, flowers, foliage). Grisdale’s recent discoveries: a tapered vase with blue-and-yellow flowers and simple blue-and-white dinner plates. A 10-minute drive from Vietri takes you to Marsia Ceramiche for contemporary pieces by Salerno-born, London-trained artist Mariella Siano. Don’t miss her spherical lamps with light filtering through pinholes and her decorative agave-leaf sculptures. Ten miles to the northeast, in Monti Picentini Natural Park, Antico Cotto di Berardino De Martino is where the De Martino brothers bake terra-cotta-colored tiles in a 450-year-old wood oven. In nearby Ravello, visit