You might not have heard of Avellino. It’s not a place in Italy that most first time or even experienced travelers have visited. For about a year, I called it home.
A few weeks ago, a friend and fellow expat in Naples emailed me and asked for some recommendations on the best things to do. She was surprised I didn’t have any posts about Avellino yet. So, this post is essentially a more detailed and photo-filled version of my original reply email.
In this guide to Avellino, Italy you’ll find my favorite places to go, things to do, where to eat plus the best wineries in the Irpinia region. I’ve also created this handy map in Google Maps to make it easy to find everything.
Where is Avellino?
Avellino is the capital city and one of the five provinces in the Campania region of Southern Italy. It’s located in the mountains just east of Naples.
The whole area was completely devastated by the 6.9 Irpinia earthquake in 1980, leaving 250,000 homeless and almost 2,500 people dead. Billions was spent on reconstruction and there are still areas under construction.
How to get to Avellino
Naples is the closet airport to Avellino. It’s an easy and beautiful drive from the Naples airport if you have a car (40 minutes, about $5 in tolls).
Avellino can also easily be a day trip from Vietri Sul Mare or Naples. There’s a reliable commuter bus that runs almost every hour from the airport and the downtown Naples train station to Piazza Kennedy (about 5 euro, 40 minutes, AIR time table here).
You can even reach Avellino from Rome Station Tiburtina on a direct three hour bus ride for 14 euros each way (runs 3 -4 times each day, schedule). Also read about the 25 things you can’t miss in Rome.
Things to Do in Avellino
There’s no shortage of beautiful churches in the town center of Avellino and its surrounding countryside. In town, be sure to visit the Avellino Cathedral (originally built in the 1100s) and Our Lady of the Rosary (rebuilt after the earthquake and recently renovated).
Sanctuary of Montevergine – Pilgrims travel far and wide to visit this church perched high up on the mountain, where a modest church was first built in the 1100s. Today, Montevergine is a large abbey with a small museum, gift shop, restaurant and stunning views of Avellino below. It’s accessible by funicular in Mercogliano or you can drive up the mountain.
The area surrounding San Martino Church is also quite beautiful. There’s a long path with the Stations of the Cross and an abandon castle.
Watch a Soccer Game – US Avellino is a professional soccer team that plays in Partenio Adriano Lombadi stadium. Tickets are about 15 euro and can be purchased outside before the game. Beer is available for only a couple of euros inside. The ultras section gets a little rowdy, but the other sections are family friendly.
Passeggiata – One of my favorite things to do in Avellino is stroll the pedestrian street lined with shops, Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. What feels like the whole town comes out in the evenings to stroll the length of the street. Everyone walks from one end to the other usually stopping for a while in Piazza Liberta, with either a gelato, cigarette or dog leash in hand.
Go to the Farmer’s Market – There’s a huge market every Saturday morning in the soccer stadium parking lot. Stock up on bufala mozzarella, flowers and vegetables.
See the Christmas Lights– Avellino puts up beautiful lights during Christmas. There’s also a small Christmas market with huts selling candy, cheese and trinkets.
Go Wine Tasting – This deserves its own section, possibly its own post…
The Best Wineries in Avellino
The region in the mountains of Avellino, known as Irpinia, is famous for producing Fiano, Greco di Tufo and Taurasi. Most wineries in Irpinia produce DOCG categorized wine in these varietals. Before you visit a winery in Avellino (and most of Italy), you have to call ahead or email to book a reservation. It’s not like in the States where you just drive up and someone will be there waiting for you in a tasting room.
Wineries in Avellino will usually charge between 15 and 25 euros for a tour and a tasting, which is sometimes waved if you buy wine or they’ll give you a discount on wine purchased. In my experience, Italians in Irpinia are incredibly generous and eager to show off their unique wine.
If you have a car and the time, drive about 45 minutes east to Taurasi. This town is famous for its wine, aptly named Taurasi. Cantine Antonio Caggiano makes some of the best. After wine tasting there with a few friends, they asked us if we wanted lunch at a nearby agriturismo. Yes. You always say, yes. So, we followed them down a dirt road and I’m not 100% sure what it was called, but it was one of the most delicious and memorable meals. I believe it was Agriturismo Il Rifugio del Barone. If you go to Cantine Antonio Caggiano, ask them where to go for lunch.
Antico Castello Winery is another family winery about 30 minutes away from the city center. We sat and tasted wine with brother and sister duo Chiara and Francesco, who have taken on the winery their parents founded. As we discussed wine and our different cultures, their mom served cheese, omelettes and the most delicious homemade sun dried tomatoes and hazelnut cookies (thankfully, available for purchase).
Villa Raiano is one of the most stunning wineries in Iripina with incredible wine to match. There’s a lovely outdoor area with mountain views and they recently installed a huge barbecue for special events. Our tour was personalized and informative. I’ve never seen a winery that utilizes clay vessels during the aging process.
Feudi di San Gregorio is one of the largest wineries in the region. The guide will give you a detailed tour of the winery and rose garden. Their upscale restaurant Marennà uses fresh herbs and vegetables from the garden as well. Wine tasting is a little more formal with the choice of three wines for 25 euro. We love Serpico, made from their tallest and oldest vines.
Terredora di Paolo offers a nice tour and wine tasting. The owner had his kind daughter give us the tour and help with translation. Like most wineries (most things in general) in Italy, it’s a family business and they’ve been very successful with distribution to the States.
In the little town of Tufo, you’ll find Cantine di Marzo or Azienda Agricola Di Marzo S.S. The di Marzo family has owned the estate since the 1600s. The building is a multi-level maze of tasting areas, bottling facilities and fermenting rooms full of wooden barrels and history. Our tour guide showed us around, generously poured a few glasses of their famous Greco di Tufo with a plate of potato chips and juicy green olives. It was perfect and unpretentious. Our tour was in Italian, but I believe they offer an English tour once a week (contact here).
Mastroberardino and Donnachiara are also two well known wineries. I never made it to either, but they make quality wine (also available at most wine stores in the States).
Where to Eat In Avellino
Madison was our favorite pizza spot in town. It gets so packed, you’d think that it was the only pizza place in town. Of course, there’s dozens to choose from.
My husband frequented Da Ciccio all’Agorà for the pizza, but I still drool a little when I think about their pear and cheese risotto. The indoor restaurant is decorated as if you’re in an outdoor courtyard.
You’re sure to have a memorable meal at Osteria I Santi in Mercogliano. It’s the kind of place that just brings you whatever seasonal dishes they’re making that day. They’re happy to cater to dietary needs and special requests though. Make a reservation. Expect to be there a few hours. Relax and enjoy.
There’s only three (that I know of) Mexican restaurants in all of Campania. We were so lucky to have one right behind our apartment. Go to Sabor de Mexico if you’ve had your share of pizza and need some variety.
The Best Cafes, Bars and Gelaterias
There’s literally a coffee bar on every corner in Avellino and I love it. Gelosia is my favorite. I’d walk by 7 or 8 other coffee bars just to have my morning coffee at Gelosia. They were always so friendly and they also make the best gelato in Avellino.
Also check out Aloha and Gelateria Vincent for gelato.
Dulcis in Furno is another bar that offers it all… great coffee, hearty pizza snacks with aperitivo, gelato and pastries.
Puro also wins in the aperitivo category. We’d go here for an Aperol Spritz and get olives, peanuts, potato chips and mini pizzas as a snack. The way to my heart is clearly free food.
Go to Sughero or Garofalo for some of the best wines in the region. These wine bars don’t really get going until later in the evening.
Cose da Mat for gluten free pastries.