During the Roman era, Campania was highly respected as a place of culture by the emperors, where it balanced Greco-Roman culture. Its is rich in culture, especially in regards to gastronomy, music, architecture, archeological and ancient sites such as Pompeii, Herculaneum, Paestum and Velia. The name of Campania itself is derived from Latin, as the Romans knew the region as Campania felix, which translates into English as “fertile countryside.” The rich natural sights of Campania make it highly important in the tourism industry, especially along the Amalfi Coast, the island of Capri and Mount Vesuvius which, in 79 CE buried the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The capital city of Campania is Naples.
Campania’s location and climate made it an ideal place to settle, and it seemed everyone wanted a piece of this fertile land. Campania changed hands regularly and as a result, has a varied history and culture. The regional capital, Naples, one of the most populated and interesting cities in Italy, is rich in history and natural beauty, both artistic and archaeological, and still represents the center of regional life.
The cuisine of Campania is reflective of the many regional cuisines of Italy. Dishes have evolved and matured much like the people that live there. The pizza in its modern aspect and taste was conceived in Naples and remains the definitive technique of what pizza should be. Historical and original pizzas from Naples are pizza fritta (fried pizza); Calzone (literally “trouser leg”), which is pizza fritta stuffed with ricotta cheese; pizza Marinara (pizza seamans’ style), with just olive oil, tomato sauce and garlic; and pizza Margherita, with olive oil, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and basil leaves. Spaghetti is also a well-known dish from southern Italy and Campania. Neapolitans were among the first Europeans to use tomatoes not only as ornamental plants, but also as food and garnish.
Campania is likewise known for its cheeses, including Mozzarella di Bufala (buffalo mozzarella) (mozzarella made from buffalo milk), fiordilatte (“flower of milk”) a mozzarella made from cows’ milk, and ricotta from sheep or buffalo milk.
Cooking traditions vary within the region. While Neapolitan dishes center around seafood, Casertan and Aversana rely more on fresh vegetables and cheeses. The cuisine from Sorrento combines cuisine from both Naples and Salerno.