Every Thursday morning at 5 a.m. trucks come from Terzigno (a vineyard near Pompei) to drop off twenty-five 54-liter jugs of wine at the family-run Il Vignaiolo.
Angelo has owned the shop for forty years. He and his son, Antonio, together sell elegant wines and provide a quaint reprieve for regulars who come and sip a cup of wine poured from 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 Naples. The cellar of Il Vignaiolo during ancient times was a street of Naples. Today, a small lift transports beverages to the cellar, which consists of three large rooms. At the very back, an old Greek well is used for storing empty boxes and crates.
A visit can feel like home, with warm welcomes also from Stephanie Dardanello (the American wife of Antonio) and Carolina (the mother who often cooks for everyone in the shop’s back kitchen).
Since it’s a wine shop, I ask not about their underground, but my most burning wine question: Why are so many red wines in southern Italy fizzy? Often bottles of red wine in this region taste slightly carbonated. Antonio says it’s a kind of wine cultivated here where the process of fermentation is shorter. These fizzy red wines are best drunk cold during the summer along with a light dinner.
Getting There: Il Vignaiolo is at Via Misericordiella 4-5, Naples. Go to Piazza Cavour (one block away from the National Archeological Museum) and you’ll find this small street close by.