I recently had the pleasure to read Robert V. Camuto’s book “South of Somewhere: Wine, Food, and the Soul of Italy“. For 4 weeks, in between late night and weekend mornings, I was in the South of Italy, specifically parts that are the land of grapes. I was hovering in family vineyards learning about their history and virtually having wine on the side. There were large portions of linguini, vermicelli, mozzarella and prosciutto along with platters of anchovies and calamari. Needless to say there was copious amounts of caffè!
Book Review: South of Somewhere by Robert Camuto
South of Somewhere is a unique book highlighting the process of wine making and the stories of wine makers of Southern Italy. Camuto paints a picture of the slow way of living, the strongest emotion I felt on my trips to the South.
The memoir first takes it’s readers to Vico Equense in Campania, then to the region of Calabria. In Italy’s west coast we meet the lively character Giuseppe who greets us in his Fiat Panda. Giuseppe speaks about the intricacies of living in the South along with problems of wine cultivation, roads, people etc. “Thus spoke Giuseppe” is highlighted by the author as a valid way of showing this happy go lucky man’s ideas.
Moving from Calabria, the author then takes his readers to Abruzzo, probably the least spoilt of all Italian regions. There we meet Pepe, a relentless wine maker who shares stories about his land and the exemplary wine culture he promotes with his daughters.
In between dialects, vintage labels and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, the readers smoothly cross to reach the landlocked region of Umbria in Tabarrini’s cellar.
Camuto moves across different regions of Southern Italy and soon we land again in Campania where the conversations move around mozzarella, Conciato Romano and organized crime groups (I won’t say no more). Thereafter, to pristine Sicily, Puglia and Basilicata, there is more swirling and tasting.
This book starts and ends with Vico Equense- the author’s ancestral town. Camuto’s discussions with his friends and cousins in the town shows his love and ties to the village. The heart warming characters Gaetano and Vittorio are kind hearted souls who I would personally love to meet someday.
Should you read the book??
South of Somewhere is both a memoir and a travelogue that weaves amazing tales of the food and love of Southern Italy. Robert Camuto’s style of writing is simple, descriptive and powerful. He shows the warmth of the people of Italy, taking wine as the major driving force.
Camuto also very naturally shows the general behaviors of people when it came to wine, each claiming their land produces the best. South of Somewhere is a must read for all Italophiles and Oenophiles!
By the end of it, you will be craving to see Camuto’s South especially after looking at the photos of locals dispersed across the book.
- Castellammare di Stabia- between Naples and Sorrento
- Sfogliatelle calde Attanasio- a Neapolitan institution
- Ischia and The Story of a New Name
- Day trip to Procida from Naples
- 7 Reasons why you should give Naples a chance
Disclaimer: The books I review are either self purchased or provided by the author or their publisher. However, this in no way affects or guarantees reviews.