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The first Greeks came to Italy as early as 1,000 BC and founded numerous colonies on the island of Sicily, as well as on the Tyrrhenian and Ionian coasts of today's two Italian regions, Calabria and Campania. Oinotria was a kingdom in the southern part of Calabria and existed around 600 to 350 B.C. It was named after Oenotrus, who according to legend was the youngest, the 50 sons of Lycaon (a son of King Priamos of Troy). Oinotria's most important king was Italos, the eponym of Italy.

The Etruscan inhabitants who lived here at that time were already cultivating wine. The Greeks gave the area around the Gulf of Naples (Campania) the name "Oinotria", which is derived from "oinotron" (vine stake). It means "land of vines raised on poles", which is how the Greeks described this new vine-growing technique. According to other sources, Onotria means "land of wine", which can be interpreted as "belonging to wine" by "oinos" (wine) and "tria" (belonging to). The latinized term "Enotria" was later used to designate the whole of Italy. The Romans then developed the area around Pompeii into the centre of the wine trade. See also under Ancient Wines.

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