Tony Percuoco, chef, Tartufo, Brisbane
I’m from Napoli in Campania. Whenever I go back I always stay on the seaside and around Lungomare di Napoli, either at Eurostars Hotel Excelsior or at the Grand Hotel Vesuvio. Both are great bases for waking up to Vesuvius. That view still takes my breath away.
Everything seems to be within 50 kilometres of my town. The two main things I eat when I’m in Campania are mozzarella with tomato and basil and the famous spaghetti alle vongole, a dish that is a true reflection of how the region works. The spaghetti is from Gragnano, surrounded by hills on the Amalfi Coast. The air comes from the sea and dries the pasta to perfection.
The tomatoes, grown on the foothills of Vesuvius, are ripened by dry sun and volcanic soil; the vongole are from Sorrento. The biggest difference from Australian vongole is that the vongole from Sorrento have a much thinner shell. Italy’s buffalo mozzarella, meanwhile, doesn’t ever see the inside of a fridge and is never more than three days old. You can eat these dishes anywhere in Napoli.
I’ve not had a bad one.
Along with the food, what I miss most about home is being able to walk down the street at 11 o’clock at night and find a restaurant open that isn’t fast food. You could sit down to a three-course meal if you wanted to.
Don’t be scared by the amount of people on the road or the fact that their hands seem permanently glued to the horn. Welcome to Italy.