Surprisingly close to the northeastern outskirts of Naples, Irpinia is a mountainous region of medieval villages amid rolling hills. It is renowned among connoisseurs for its food and wine, considered the best in Campania and among the best in Italy. The capital of the region is Avellino, a town that was largely destroyed by earthquakes and was rebuilt with uninteresting modern buildings. The real attraction is the wilderness beyond, with its remote villages and authentic traditions.

35km (22 miles) S of Benevento; 54km (34 miles) E of Naples

The capital of Irpinia, Avellino started as a Roman town -- Abellinum -- which was abandoned in early medieval times because it was too difficult to defend. The population moved uphill to a Longobard fortified village (about 3km/2 miles to the west), with a strategic position controlling the road between Benevento and Salerno. The town is uninspiring nowadays, victim of the numerous earthquakes that have hit the area. The last, but certainly not the least, was the 1980 quake that left little standing and whose terrible economic repercussions are still being felt today.