Zungoli, Italy

Situated in the province of Avellino, Campania in Southern Italy, Zungoli has been named one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. It holds the orange flag (la Bandiera arancione), a prestigious recognition awarded by the Touring Club Italiano to small towns for excellency in tourism, hospitality and the environment. Indeed, if you want to escape the bustling neighbouring cities for a short weekend retreat into bucolic quietude then the splendid landscape, fresh produce, and cobbled vicoli are the perfect dose. 

Zungoli is a town where you feel the history. The slow pace of life that lingers in the air is testimony to this capsule town, in many ways preserved in time. But for me, Zungoli is not only the first place I ever visited in Italy, it is my ancestral town. Visiting frequently in the summer since the age of five, it is the town that has kept me connected to my roots, that gifted me my first taste of freedom, and that made me fall in love with Southern Italy as a whole. It is the town that I’ve continued to grow up in over the years and which in turn has witnessed my transformation. And yet, it is the only place in the world where I can briefly re-meet my five year old self again, gaily bouncing with exuberance at the discovery of gelato and kittens. 

It is quite literally the place in which a stranger may cry two times: when they arrive and when they leave (‘Quando un forestiero viene al Sud piange due volte: quando arriva e quando parte’). This village is for me a charming contradiction: the days tend to be sluggish and the nights more animated. I feel restless in its inertia but it’s exactly this stillness that makes me wish to be nowhere else.  As reluctantly as I may come, is as reluctantly as I wish to leave, but it is beautiful to know that no matter how long absent I may remain from this idyll my connection to it is never severed. 

If you are ever in the Avellino region, I sincerely encourage you to pass through and allow yourself to be enchanted by the particularities of mine and many others’, home away from home. 

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