Above: It’s easy to understand why they can make fresh, clean wines in the Commune of Lettere (Naples), where vines are tended atop the peaks of the Lattari mountain chain.
It’s another busy day over here at Do Bianchi Editorial and I really shouldn’t be posting. But when a lovely lady sends me an etymological quaestio, the chivalrous in me trumps my otherwise unflagging work ethic (hah!).
Over at My Life Italian, Tracie B has produced a truly wonderful and thoroughly delightful post on a wine we shared just over a week ago in New York: a sparkling red blend of indigenous grape varieties from the township of Lettere (province of Naples). You’ll have to click through to read about this wine and why it — together with Gragnano — is one of Neapolitans’s favorite pairings for pizza.
But as far as toponomastic matters are concerned, I poked around the web and found an answer to her query as to the origins of the name Lettere.
The most likely etymon I found was that Lettere is a corruption of Lattari (pronounced laht-TAH-ree, if I’m not mistaken), the name of the mountain chain where the township is located. The beautiful (and fruitful) mountains take their name, most believe, from the Latin mons lactarius, literally the suckling mountain (from the Latin lac meaning milk) because the mountain chain was known in antiquity as an excellent site for sheep to pasture.
Tracie B and I will be heading to central and northern Italy in early 2010 but we are hoping to head south next fall. We’ll be sure to take a print out of this listing of pizzerie in Lettere (click on “Dove Alloggiare e Mangiare”)!
And in the meantime, I’ll reiterate Tracie B’s advice: head to Kesté Pizza e Vino in New York and order some Lettere (or Gragnano) with your pizza!