El Portal: An Encounter with Nature, the Sacred and our Past

 

Also known as the Birdland sanctuary; El Portal (from the Spanish “The Gate”; named this way because of the two main wooden gates that were placed at the entrance of the village) is one of the very first archeological sites registered in Miami Dade County.

Because El Portal isn’t a touristic attraction opened to the public; please be cautious if decide to visit, respect the nature, the silence and the neighbors. El Portal is a residential village were peacocks walk free; an almost enchanted forest with hundreds of year old trees guiding the path to a Tequesta Indian Burial site.

The Tequesta Indians; one of the first people of today’s South Florida lived in the areas known as the Biscayne Bay and the South bank of the Miami River including what is today the Village of El Portal. In 1560 Admiral Pedro Mendendez de Aviles took contact with the Tequesta Indians who were later transferred to Cuba, converted to the new faith and later vanished.

One of the ancient trees at the Village of El Portal, a sacred habitat.
One of the ancient trees at the Village of El Portal, a sacred habitat.

Once at El Portal; I had my first encounter with that exuberant vegetation and the endless variety of botanical species; because of my Native American origins I felt the need to visit the site and respectfully give back to the earth what is from the mother earth: I had kept for the longest time a few ritual instruments I received from the Mbya Guarani Indians back in Paraguay which I deposited on to the sacred mound. I prayed in silence and felt in whole harmony with the nature.

This tablet marks the habitation mound of the Tequesta Indian
This tablet marks the habitation mound of the Tequesta Indian
One of the typical scenes at El Portal: Peacocks crossing the road
One of the typical scenes at El Portal: Peacocks crossing the road
I thought this was also one of the cutest signs: Caution: Duck crossing
I thought this was also one of the cutest signs: Caution: Duck crossing

In addition El Portal is a certified Wildlife Habitat, as a source of the Four Basic elements needed for wildlife to thrive: food, water, cover and places to raise the young spices. I discovered signs marking the pathways while numerous butterflies revealed their beautiful colors. This site provides also the necessary milkweed, nectar sources and shelter to sustain monarch butterflies as they migrate though North America.

As seen on SFL Style Magazine http://www.sflstyle.com

El Portal an encounter with our past

El Portal

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The Phlegraean fields (I campi ardenti) A look in to an ancient civilization and viniculture

The Sibyl's cave: according to the myth, this was where to find the Cumaean Sibyl; the oracle consulted by Aeneas.  The tufa passage way, trapezoid in section is naturally illuminated by narrow fissures and ends in a vaulted chamber.  The system connects Cumae to lake Averno.
The Sibyl’s cave: according to the myth, this was where to find the Cumaean Sibyl; the oracle consulted by Aeneas. The tufa passage way, trapezoid in section is naturally illuminated by narrow fissures and ends in a vaulted chamber. The system connects Cumae to lake Averno.

The wide arc of land around the Pozzuoli Bay has been known for centuries as the Campi Flegrei (The Phlegraean fields) or Burning Fields, because of the constant volcanic activity.  Mud still bubbles from the clay bed of the solfatara and in places the ground is still hot, you can easily boil an egg if you place it under the soil.

La Sibilla winery is located in the historic Phlegraean fields overlooking the sea, the minerality of the terroir makes the perfect soil for the ancient grapes of Greek origins including Falanghina and Per'e Palummo also known as Piedirosso
La Sibilla winery is located in the historic Phlegraean fields overlooking the sea, the minerality of the terroir makes the perfect soil for the ancient grapes of Greek origins including Falanghina and Per’e Palummo also known as Piedirosso

Over time some of the Phlegraean craters became lakes.  Lake Averno thought to be the entrance of hell and owes its name (a-ornon in Greek: without birds) to the once suffocating vapours.

A 100 years old wine of Piedirosso at La Sibilla winery.  Piedirosso (red foot) is also called Per'e Palummo in Neapolitan dialect which literally translates to dove's foot.
A 200 years old vine of Piedirosso at La Sibilla winery. Piedirosso (red foot) is also called Per’e Palummo in Neapolitan dialect which literally translates to dove’s foot.

At the end of the 1st century BC, its almost sacred character declined after the construction of Porto Giulio, a systems of channels that connected the sea and the lakes, ships first reached the outer port in Lake Lucrino and then the inner basin of Lake Averno, connected to Cumae by the tunnel through Monte Grillo.  The port was abandoned when silted up and trade was transferred to Miseno.

And is here at La Sibilla wineries where we can see this aqueduct from the first century BC
The aqueduct from the 1st century BC can be seen on the land where is now La Sibilla winery in the Phlegraean fields
The "Enoarchaeology" is practiced here from the "terroir", the land located in an archaeological site to the ancient viniculture techniques used by the first colonies of Greeks who founded Cumae
The “Enoarchaeology” is practiced here from the “terroir”, the land located in an archaeological site to the ancient viniculture techniques used by the first colonies of Greeks who founded Cumae
The ancient cave inside La Sibilla winery produces excellent wines featured in AIS Duemilavini and Slow Food's Guide to the wines of Italy
The ancient cave inside La Sibilla winery produces excellent wines featured in AIS Duemilavini and Slow Food’s Guide to the wines of Italy
The key that opens the cave of La Sibilla
The key that opens the cave of La Sibilla
Piedirosso is aged for 18 months on French oak barrels at La Sibilla
Piedirosso is aged for 18 months on French oak barrels at La Sibilla
Example of biodiversity were vines coexist along with other agricultural forms.  The Azienda Agricola La Sibilla participates in the Slow Food commission and has some legumes on a DOP category
Example of biodiversity were vines coexist along with other agricultural forms. The Azienda Agricola La Sibilla participates in the Slow Food commission and has some legumes on a DOP category such as the chickpeas (ceci) of the Phlegraean fields historically cultivated by the Greeks in this land.
Vincenzo di Meo, young enologist in charge of the family owned winery La Sibilla conducting a wine tasting of his own production.
Vincenzo di Meo, young enologist in charge of the family owned winery La Sibilla conducting a wine tasting of his own production.

Cumae

Founded in the 8th century BC by Greeks stationed on Ischia, Cumae is one of the oldest colonies of Magna Grecia.  The founders of this colony came from Eubea, a Greek Island of the Aegean sea.

Cumae Archeological Park.  Cumae was a powerful port for centuries and resisted the Etruscan but succumbed to the Romans in the 3rd century BC becoming a Roman colony.
Cumae Archeological Park. Cumae was a powerful port for centuries and resisted the Etruscan but succumbed to the Romans in the 3rd century BC becoming a Roman colony.
The remains of the Temple of Jupiter, this ancient sanctuary became an early Christian church, the altar and the baptistry pictured here.
The remains of the Temple of Jupiter, this ancient sanctuary became an early Christian church, the altar and the baptistery pictured here.
Arco Felice and entrance to the archeological site.  The Roman city grew up over the ruins of the Greek city in the 5th and 6th centuries but was utterly destroyed by the Saracens in 915.
Arco Felice and entrance to the archeological site. The Roman city grew up over the ruins of the Greek city in the 5th and 6th centuries but was utterly destroyed by the Saracens in 915.
Today, new discoveries by the Orientale University of Naples shows the artifacts used by the ancient Greeks to cook and eat their food, part of the Archaeogastronomy.   A form of "ollae" or ceramic pot very close to our contemporary terracotta pots.
Today, new discoveries by the Orientale University of Naples shows the artifacts used by the ancient Greeks to cook and eat their food, part of the Archaeogastronomy. A form of “ollae” or ceramic pot very close to our contemporary terracotta pots.

Villa Eubea and Vinaria, a cult to food and wine in the ancestral site

I had the full Archaegastronomy experience inside the cave of Vinaria, the restaurant of Villa Eubea just a walk away from the archaeological site.
I had the full Archaeogastronomy experience inside the cave of Vinaria, the restaurant of Villa Eubea just a walk away from the archaeological site.
Sampling of seafood and fish at Vinaria including fresh octopus salad and fried grouper.
Sampling of seafood and fish at Vinaria including fresh octopus salad and fried grouper.
Grilled seafood and fish paired with organic grown veggies paired with Falanghina of the Phlegraean fields DOC.
Grilled seafood and fish paired with organic grown veggies paired with Falanghina of the Phlegraean fields DOC.
Excellent dining experience at Vinaria wine & flavors, restaurant and cave.
Excellent dining experience at Vinaria wine & flavors, restaurant and cave.
The restaurant inside Vinaria's cave
The restaurant inside Vinaria’s cave
The sustainability of Villa Eubea and Vinaria where the vegetables used their cuisine are organically grown on their very own site.
The sustainability of Villa Eubea and Vinaria where the vegetables used in their cuisine are organically grown on their very own site.
Lemon trees at Villa Eubea used for the restaurant's consumption.
Lemon trees at Villa Eubea used for the restaurant’s consumption.
An old press at Villa Eubea, was still used here for years to get the last drops of juice from the local grapes.
An old press at Villa Eubea, was still used here for years to get the last drops of juice from the local grapes.

Buried Greek towns and Roman ruins, reveal the region’s ancient history, the burning fields and their volcanic soil bringing up the flavors on this land that gives in return high mineral wine and delicious fruit and vegetables.

Next, we will explore the rest of this amazing territory going from Pozzuoli to Baia and Bacoli stopping by more wineries, restaurants by the bay and archeological sites.  See you tomorrow, thank you for reading.

(c) 2013 Montserrat Franco, all pictures by me taken with IPhone 4S and Sony Cybershot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pompeii and Herculaneum, a walk on the roads of ash and wine

The Goddess of Love.  Is one of my favorite frescoes inside the many houses of Pompeii.  This fresco was discovered in 1952 located on the back wall of the garden, it portrays Venus with 2 cherubs in a pink seashell.
“The Goddess of Love” is one of my favorite frescoes inside the House of Venus. This fresco was discovered in 1952 located on the back wall of the garden, it portrays Venus with 2 cherubs in a pink seashell.

The remains of Pompeii were discovered by accident in the 1590’s when architect Domenico Fontana was excavating the canal to bring the waters from river Sarno to Torre Anunziata but it was not until the 1750’s that the site was seen as an archaeological treasure and one of the most important and well preserved examples of Roman civilization.  Follow me on this amazing trip around the streets, houses and wineries of Pompeii, Herculaneum and the Vesuvius National Park.

The Amphitheatre, the oldest of its kind in existence, was used for gladiatorial combat and could hold 20,000 people.  The stone tiers were separated in to different sections for the various social classes.
The Amphitheatre, the oldest of its kind in existence, was used for gladiatorial combat and could hold 20,000 people. The stone tiers were separated in to different sections for the various social classes.

In 90-89 BC the people of Campania became Roman citizens.  Naples (Neapolis) or the new city came in to contact with the growing power of Rome.  In AD 79 the erupting Vesuvius buried a number of ancient Roman cities including Pompeii.

Ash and debris covered Pompeii and bodies were buried by a landslide of thick mud.  People tried to scape but didn't make it, many were killed by the toxic fumes while engaged in everyday tasks.
Ash and debris covered Pompeii and bodies were buried by a landslide of thick mud. People tried to scape but didn’t make it, many were killed by the toxic fumes while engaged in everyday tasks.

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Wealthy residents in Pompeii had often well decorated walls like this one found in the House of The Vettii.
Wealthy residents in Pompeii had often well decorated walls like this one found in the House of The Vettii.
Statues found in the streets of Pompeii
Statues found in the streets of Pompeii
Many sculptures from Pompeii and Herculaneum were removed from the original site and placed at the Archaeological Museum of Naples, Pompeiian mosaics and frescoes are also  preserved in the Museum and date from the 2nd century BC to AD 79.
Many sculptures from Pompeii and Herculaneum were removed from the original site and placed at the Archaeological Museum of Naples, Pompeiian mosaics and frescoes are also preserved in the Museum and date from the 2nd century BC to AD 79.
The owners of the House of the Vettii were freedman who become rich merchants.
The owners of the House of the Vettii were freedman who become rich merchants.

Thanks to the many discoveries we can have an idea of the life in the Roman houses of Pompeii, constructed generally around two open courts; the atrium; an Italic feature and the colonnaded garden of Greek origin.  But not only the architecture and the art in their walls, Pompeii reveals much more in the bodies of people unearthed along with their everyday objects.

A public fountain in Via dell'Abbondanza.   The excavations for this street lined with homes and shops ends just to the left of the Amphitheatre.
A public fountain in Via dell’Abbondanza. The excavations for this street lined with homes and shops ends just to the left of the Amphitheatre.
One of the horse barns in Pompeii still shows utensils for horse riding and the remains of a horse placed on display
At the House of the Chaste Lovers is possible to see the fossilized bodies of the mules that used to drive the millstone for grinding wheat.
Medusa's head (Sec. IX BC) House of the Centaur. Pompeii.  On display at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale
Medusa’s head (Mosaic IX Century BC) House of the Centaur. Pompeii. On display at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale
The Lunapare was the best organized of Pompeii's many brothels.  The walls were decorated with erotic paintings and sculptures symbolizing fertility or describing the many services offered in this houses.
The Lunapare was the best organized of Pompeii’s many brothels. The walls were decorated with erotic paintings and sculptures symbolizing fertility or describing the many services offered in these houses.

Lacryma Christi and the ancient wine making in the Vesuvius

A Paleo Christian legend says that Christ cried over the Vesuvius and His Holy tears blessed the vineyards giving name to this excellent wine.  Other legend distorted from the pagan mythology says that Jesus visited a hermit converting his bad beverage in to amazing wine.  Today we can see many frescoes with wine rituals from the houses in Pompeii that have survived the ashes after the eruption of the Volcano.

The Wine Offering.  Fresco found in Pompeii (Sec. VII BC)   Many of these well preserved frescoes can be seen at the Archeological Museum of Naples (Museo Archeologico Nazionale)
The Wine Offering. Fresco found in Pompeii (VII Century BC) on display at The Archaeological Museum of Naples (Museo Archeologico Nazionale) Wine making and consumption was very important in Greek and Roman cultures, just like drinking water.
An example of ancient viniculture techniques in Pompeii 79 AD.  Today these vineyards are curated by Mastroberardino wineries producing limited vintages of Greek origin vines including the Lacryma Christi.
An example of ancient viniculture techniques in Pompeii 79 AD. Today these vineyards are curated by Mastroberardino wineries producing limited vintages of Greek origin vines.
Ancient Caprettone vines facing the now dormant volcano.
Ancient Caprettone vines facing the now dormant volcano.
The land around volcanoes are rich in alkali and phosphorus and is extremely fertile.  Lacryma Christi is a great wine produced in the slopes of the Vesuvius.
The land around volcanoes are rich in alkali and phosphorus and is extremely fertile. Lacryma Christi is a great wine produced in the slopes of the Vesuvius.
The mineral soil of the Vesuvius where the Piedirosso and Aglianico made the perfect blend for Lacryma Christy reds.
The mineral soil of the Vesuvius where the Piedirosso and Aglianico grapes are used to make the Lacryma Christy reds.
In this volcanic land so rich for the agriculture  the organic "Pienolo tomatoes" just like the wines;  obtained the DOP category (Denomination of Protected Origin) The Pienolo tomatoes are promoted by the Slow Food Commission Vesuvian Chapter and are another example of sustainability in bio-agriculture.
In this volcanic land so rich for the agriculture the organic “Pienolo tomatoes” just like the wines; obtained the DOP category (Denomination of Protected Origin) The Pienolo tomatoes are promoted by the Slow Food Commission Vesuvian Chapter and are another example of sustainability in bio-agriculture.
Pienolo DOP tomatoes on display on a local Vesuvian trattoria; it shows the way the tomatoes are placed on stalks for their cultivation and after harvest they need to be maintained on the same way for better conservation, this is according to an ancient tradition in Campania.
Pienolo DOP tomatoes on display on a local Vesuvian trattoria; it shows the way the tomatoes are placed on stalks for their cultivation and after harvest they need to be maintained on the same way for better conservation, this is according to an ancient tradition in Campania.
The Vesuvius National Park it's a protected area where generations of family owned wineries make distinctive wines like Casa Setaro, a small wine producer that I had the pleasure to visit on my trip to the Vesuvius.
The Vesuvius National Park it’s a protected area where generations of family owned wineries make distinctive wines like Casa Setaro, a small wine producer that I had the pleasure to visit on my trip to the Vesuvius.
Aglianico vines in Pompeii
Aglianico vines in Pompeii
I had the pleasure to visit Vigna Pironti with the Italian Association of Sommeliers (AIS) Vesuvian Chapter.  Vigna Pironti produces great red and wine varieties of Lacryma Christi, some of them named after the houses in Pompeii.
Visiting Vigna Pironti with the Italian Association of Sommeliers (AIS) Vesuvian Chapter. Vigna Pironti produces great red and wine varieties of Lacryma Christi, some of them named after the houses in Pompeii.
An ancient barn at Vigna Pironti's fields
An ancient barn at Vigna Pironti’s fields

 

Detail of wall decoration. Pompeii
Detail of wall decoration. Pompeii
Detail of a mosaic found in Pompeii
Detail of a mosaic found in Pompeii

Herculaneum

The town’s quiet existence was brought to an abrupt halt in AD 79 during the eruption of the Vesuvius that buried Pompeii with deep lava and mud.  The site of ancient Herculaneum is well below the level of the modern town.  The area is still being excavated.

In 89 BC the town became part of the Roman Empire, a residential municipium and resort.
In 89 BC the town became part of the Roman Empire, a residential municipium and resort.
Excavations in Herculaneum began in the 18th century and uncovered Roman houses built around a rectangular plan.  Perhaps the best known is the Villa dei Papiri.
Excavations in Herculaneum began in the 18th century and uncovered Roman houses built around a rectangular plan. Perhaps the best known is the Villa dei Papiri.
The Trellis House, a characteristic example of an inexpensive Roman multi-family dwelling and is made of wood and reed laths in crude tufa and lime masonry.
The Trellis House, a characteristic example of an inexpensive Roman multi-family dwelling and is made of wood and reed laths in crude tufa and lime masonry.
Many thanks to AIS Comune Vesuviane, Vigna Pironti and Casa Setaro Wineries for the fantastic tasting.  Cheers!!! Thanks for reading.
Many thanks to AIS Comune Vesuviane, Vigna Pironti and Casa Setaro Wineries for the fantastic tasting. Cheers!!! Thanks for reading.

(c) 2013 Montserrat Franco.  All pictures by me taken with IPhone 4, 4S and Sony Cybershot.  You are more than welcome to share them mentioning the font.