We knew near Paestum we could see the Greek ruins and Mozzarella of Campania but first we wanted to explore Agropoli; the medieval old town that we missed the day before as we searched for our beach hideaway and to experience it in the evening.
Our map showed a campsite in Agropoli itself but this was not to be found anywhere rather we found a great little camper place at Trentanova, just a couple of miles walk back into town and actually, with its own pleasant village where you find a great delicatessen and a bar restaurant. Camping Trentanova was a pleasant surprise at first it looked like you would be parking in a disused industrial ground with a huge barn welcoming you to the site but the good mix of sun and shade below the Eucalyptus trees and absolutely amazing, pristine, beautifully decorated toilets, showers and washing up area made it a great base from which to explore Agropoli.
Our first experience of Agropoli was the day before as we had passed through at the beginning of our testing Cilento coast day. As we entered the narrow streets of the ‘new town’ at 8am it already had a charm and bustle about it. After breakfast, coffee and Coronette (Croisant) in a friendly little bar close to the centre, we noticed a delicatessen type shop that sold mozzarella so went to investigate. We couldn’t see any at all amongst the great selection of cheeses behind the tiny counter but the lady old us there would be a new delivery in 5 minutes. We wandered further, buying more wonderful plump Italian tomatoes (our rule is that you can never have enough tomatoes) and returned to the little deli 10 minutes or so later to find a queue out of the door. The Buffalo Mozzarella had arrived and the locals obviously knew that it did so every day at that time and that the early bird catches a very fresh and delicious mozzarella. We bought our precious ration and couldn’t resist just a taste of the buffalo milk ice-cream too.
After a lunch at the van of our wonderful Mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, (too much) Greek Rosé and delicious melon, we lazed in the sunshine rather than risk any crowds at the beach. Later as the sun dipped, we scrubbed up and flip-flopped into Agropoli for dinner.
It was then 9pm and the streets were full of life and intrigue. The fresh fish shop had tables outside where a few enjoyed dinner, the fruit and vegetable stores cascaded colourfully onto the street and the smell of wood smoke from the fresh baked pizza ovens filled the air. As we approached the central square, the sound of hundreds of people promenading, dining and taking in the warm night air gave the town a vibrancy we had not expected. We strolled, mingled and had just slowed to their pace when the power to the whole town failed; screams and giggles filled the square and a multitude of mobile phone lights soon lit up the evening. We continued slowly in the dark weaving our way through those paralysed by the dark and eventually found a little restaurant where emergency lights and gas stove meant they could still serve us a great Spaghetti Vongole (clams) and Frittura Mista (wonderful lightly battered and quickly fried calamari and little fishes).
The lights came back on again a few hours later allowing us to find the way up to the old town and explore the cobbled streets, a beautiful and intriguing place but still packed with people at midnight. A fascinating evening to end our few strange days and now we had seen (sort of) Agropoli and the old town, it was time, we both agreed, to leave the Cilento Coast and head north. Not an easy decision as any direction north now meant closer to home.
Now for Greek ruins and the Mozzarella of Campania! One last brief stop in Paestum to buy more Mozzarella the following day turned out to be very fortuitous. As we pulled into the driveway of the farm directly opposite the amazing Greek temple ruins we noticed a familiar Camper sign. It couldn’t be that we could camp in the olive groves surrounding the Buffalo farm right next to the shop and restaurant where they serve an amazing array of Mozzarella and Scamorza could it? It could!Just us and one more VW camper in the vast olive grove soaking up the sunshine and marvelling at the Greek ruins just a short stroll from the camper van…
We toured the farm and said hello to the generous Buffalos…
before a delicious feast of cheese, meats and of course wines from the farm.
Next stop Rome to see our friends, who have rather fortuitously found themselves living there, so in the morning we bought a huge (500g) Mozzarella, local Aglianico wine for them and filled our fridge with a few of the cheeses from the shop before, sadly now, saying goodbye the Paestum Greek ruins and to Campania.