The Food and Wine Trail

I sapori semplici danno lo stesso piacere dei più raffinati, l’acqua e un pezzo di pane fanno il piacere più pieno a chi ne manca.”

Epicuro

The food and wine trail was created within the 15 municipalities of the province of Benevento being researched. A territory where tradition, taste and authenticity inexorably resist time, boasting a wealth and variety of products whose virtues have been known since ancient times.


Starting from Sant’Agata De’ Goti we find one of the village’s typical products: the ‘nfrennule, tarallucci made with flour, water, white wine, oil and wild fennel. They have a particular shape reminiscent of an eight, golden in color with a characteristic shine (thanks to the presence of good Evo oil in the dough).

Also produced in the municipal area are annurche apples, a prized variety typical of the Campania region also known as the “queen of apples.” It has been known since time immemorial, to the point that it is present in some Pompeian paintings and in those found in the excavations of Herculaneum, particularly in the House of the Deer.


Montesarchio passes down the traditional local dishes, which are: “Cazzarielli” (potato dumplings) with goat meat, lavanelli (pasta) and chickpeas, eggplant in cassone, stuffed peppers, vegetable dishes, broccoli, fava beans with pecorino cheese, zeppole with squash flowers, meatballs in broth served with cardon, soups and pasta mixed with beans, lentils and other legumes, as well as the production of Aglianico and Falanghina wine.

Campoli del Monte Taburno is known for its extensive production of cherries. In June, in fact, the ritual cherry festival is held.

In addition, Campoli’s bread has the De.C.O. (Denominazione Comunale di Origine), which serves to certify the origin of the products and their historical and cultural link with the municipal territory, as well as an effective promotional tool of the Municipality of Campoli del Monte Taburno. Through the De.C.O. is aimed at: preserving over time the products that are identified with customs and are part of local popular culture; protecting the history, traditions, cultural heritage and flavors related to typical local productions.

In Campoli M.T., as well as in nearby Tocco Caudio, there are numerous traditional dishes: cavatelli, pasta and beans, beans with pork rind, tagliatelle alla boscaiola, lamb, kid, barbecued sausage, mushrooms, asparagus and stuffed peppers.

In the Vitulanese valley we also find the pleasures of wine: Aglianico is produced between the villages of Vitulano and Foglianise. We are at the foot of Taburno, a massif rich in delicacies: from porcini mushrooms, to chestnuts, via the “buried” potato, which follows a very ancient method of preserving the tuber. In autumn, there is the annual “Sagra della Castagna e del Pecorino Vitulanese,” two well-known local mountain products.

In Torrecuso, in  September, the food and wine event ‘VinEstate’ takes place, close to half a century old, which has the aim of promoting the entire wine production and typical products of the Taburno area. The territory surrounding the village is rich in vineyards for the prevalent production of Aglianico wine.

In the main squares of the village, the exhibition and tasting of wines from the various wineries in the area is organized with a series of events and seminars to discuss the importance of wine understood as a complex factor of culture, history, tradition and experience of a territory.

From the rugged slopes of Mount Taburno, cloaked in vineyards and olive groves, comes this highly prized wine, the result of favorable environmental conditions and the resourcefulness and professional skills of the area’s operators. The commitment of the winemakers finds in the native grape varieties, and in particular in Aglianico and Falanghina, the best allies for obtaining quality wines.

The production area includes 13 municipalities, all in the Sannio region; in the area operates, alongside a growing number of private wineries, an important Cantina sociale, with more than 400 members, which, through a wise selection of lots and a careful sorting of grapes, elaborates wines of great value and marked typicality, making use, for the aging of Aglianico, of Slavonian oak barrels and French oak barriques.

Another event, aimed at promoting local products, is the “Padellaccia e Panporcello” festival held from July 8 to 14. During the 6 evenings it is possible to taste the traditional dish “la Padellaccia” (lean pork, peppers and potatoes) and the succulent sandwich garnished with the tasty pork meat “il Panporcello.”

In addition, typical dishes related to the local culinary tradition are “generous”: cavatelli, fusilli, vegetable soups, “ciambotti” and stuffed peppers.

On the gastronomic front, Cerreto Sannita boasts a rich rural tradition, linked to the products and recipes of a territory that is sometimes harsh but surprising in variety and quality. Starting with wine, such as Sannio doc, Falanghina del Sannio doc, Sannio doc subzone Solopaca, Falanghina doc subzone Solopaca, Campania igt, Benevento igt. The hilly clay soil actually provides an ideal habitat for quality production, both in wine and oil, equally important thanks to ancient cultivations of olives such as Ortice, Ortolana and Raccioppella. Cerreto is in fact a “city of oil,” and as such it has put itself forward in recent years thanks to the efforts of administrators and businesses to create a cultural itinerary that enhances oil and other local treasures, the focus, for example, of two successful events such as the Gastronomic May and Autumn Decors and Flavors, an opportunity to present other local specialties as well, such as cheeses (ricotta, pecorino, caciocavallo), which are particularly tasty because they are made from the milk of sheep and cattle that graze freely, feeding on mountain flowers and grasses on the Parata, a vast highland pasture that stretches a thousand meters above sea level on Mount Coppe.

On the Parata itself, a rare and aromatic mushroom, the virno, also sprouts, which due to its intense aroma some even compare to the truffle and which between April and May “invades” the dishes of cerretese cuisine, in handmade tagliatelle or in the traditional lamb stew of laticauda (“broad-tailed”) sheep, a local sheep whose breeding resumed in the last 30 years seems to have averted the risk of its disappearance from the area. The virno is a small mushroom with a light hazelnut cap, also commonly known as St. George’s mushroom, since it begins to sprout after the feast day dedicated to this saint, April 23. Which is also the time when Cerreto also expresses another seasonal star of the local cuisine, the asparagus. Finally, not to be forgotten are the taralli, for which San Lorenzello, a municipality immediately west of Cerreto Sannita, of which it was a hamlet until 1860, is famous.

Cusano Mutri is known throughout the region for the Sagra dei Funghi (Mushroom Festival), held from the fourth weekend in September to the first weekend in October, in which the porcini mushroom, Boletus Edulis, dominates. During the course of the festival, visitors have the opportunity to taste a long series of traditional dishes, expertly prepared by local restaurateurs, all based on the delicious mushroom and truffle.

Also in Pietraroja, in August, there is a “festival of typical products” from the mountains: roast lamb; sheep chops; the “carrati.” typical and sought-after handmade local macaroni with meat sauce; local sausages and veal; cured meats (capocollo, pancetta, soppressata); local cheeses (pecorino, caciocavallo, ricotta); “trit’gli e pepàugli”(pieces of pork fried together with pickled peppers); and, unfailingly, the famous Pietraroja ham.

Pietraroja ham has been renowned for centuries, so much so that in a collection of prints in the archives of the Kingdom of Naples the symbol of this small Benevento town depicts a woman with a ham. There is, moreover, evidence that in 1776, the Duke of Laurenzana of Piedimonte commissioned a supply of “prigiotta” from Pietraroja. In 1917, Antonio Iamalio, in his description of the province of Benevento Queen of Sannio, tells us that it is “Flourishing there is mainly the breeding of pigs, whence the renowned hams of Pietraroja.” The ancient processing systems, the characteristic climate and the fineness of the mountain air make this salami a unique product with a delicate and unmistakable aroma. Typical ham processing begins with a hand trimming of the leg, the fresh hind leg of the pig, from which the ham is made. The form, the next day is placed on the traditional wooden gable, concave and inclined, where it is salted and left there for about 15-20 days. After this period has passed, once much of the “salamona” serosity has been lost and the residual salt has been cleaned off, the ham is placed in the press, a kind of wine press, where it is pressed for four days and then suspended in a smoky place for a week, to be pressed again for four more weeks and spiced with black pepper and chili pepper.

Morcone is characterized by a fertile and abundant surrounding area where excellent Marche meat, a surprising “bio-pasta,” delicious hams and cheeses are produced (a project of the University of Sannio has been active for a few years now that aims to enhance typicality). In the summer period it is possible to taste the “frese di San Rocco,” excellent rustic doughnuts prepared with leavened dough, milk and eggs in addition to the indispensable “Fioroni,” with cheese and salami. A typical dessert that reminds us of Carnival in Morcone is the Scorpella. Very simple in ingredients, it requires a lot of manual skill and experience in the construction of the “rosetta” with the various strips of dough that will then be fried. On the geographical origin of this recipe there are various opinions, more or less tying the area of origin between Campania and Molise.  It is a characteristic dessert with a unique flavor, especially when seasoned with local honey.

A village that is a treasure chest of authentic culinary traditions is Casalduni, where the inhabitants hand down the ancient recipes related to the typical dishes of peasant culture, which are: A ‘Mnestra ‘Mmaretata – the married soup, a dish composed of a stew of mixed field vegetables, meat broth, cheese and ham; Cianfotta, composed of peppers, onion, eggplant, potatoes, and tomatoes; Ammugliatielli, defined as a “poor” traditional dish that employs only local raw materials, a legacy of the peasant culture, which has always wisely exploited every product, even those that elsewhere are considered waste. This is the case with ammugliatielli, the tasty rolls of lamb entrails, a typical product of the inland areas of Campania, particularly the Campano-Lucano Apennines. Due to the geographic extent of their spread, the recipe and the name vary slightly: they are, in fact, called “mugliatieddu,” “glummarieddi,” “migliatielli” or “migliatieddi,” terms that, however, all derive from “mugliatiello,” “ball of yarn,” since they resemble a ball of yarn both in shape and in the gesture it takes to prepare them, similar to the one one one performs to wrap wool. Ammugliatielli are, basically, the innards of suckling lamb wrapped to a wooden stick, accompanied, possibly, by garlic, parsley, cheese and chili pepper. All variations of the recipe call for the innards to be washed carefully to avoid the transmission of disease to humans (although the lambs used are of infant age and have, therefore, ingested only milk, which almost completely rules out the presence of viruses transmissible to humans, possibly eliminated by cooking), soaked for a few hours in water and citrus peels and dried, and then partly used as a base for stuffing along with cheese, sweetbreads, parsley and garlic, or only citrus. The remaining part is used to close the rolls. Ammugliatielli are mostly eaten roasted, although they can be cooked in a variety of ways.

Campolattaro is famous for its cheeses, such as caciocavallo and ricotta, but also for its olives and extra virgin olive oil, which are of excellent quality thanks to the fertile soil on which the olive trees grow. A traditional dish is “migliaccio,” a typical carnival dessert made with semolina and raisins.

Molinara, land of oil, defends and enhances a unique heritage of biodiversity: the centuries-old olive grove consisting entirely of the Ortice cultivar. The extra virgin resulting from it is the story of the territory, where the local variety gives the best of its intense vegetable sensations and accentuated aromatic notes. An oil as precious as the olive grove that surrounds the historic center of Molinara.

In the village of Pietrelcina, artichoke cultivation was introduced around 1840, by, it seems, a prefect originally from Bari. Since then, the artichoke has always been cultivated in not very large plots of land, with a procedure closely linked to human labor in all its phases, as well as for the harvesting, also for the summer cutting of the stems and for the “scarducciatura,” that is, the elimination of superfluous shoots, which is carried out mainly in late autumn and repeated in spring, when the young thistles, just uprooted are laid on the immature inflorescences to preserve them from the sun’s rays that would alter their color and compromise their exceptional softness. In fact, the Pietrelcina artichoke is prized for its tenderness and very delicate flavor, which the people of Pietrelcina celebrate in a festival held in May each year. The tying operation, called “ammazzamento,” also follows an ancient traditional procedure: they are harvested in bunches, each of which is composed of four mammarelle, or central flower heads, also called “cimarole,” tied with rushes, called “vinchi” in dialect, which are still harvested, as they once were, along the banks of the nearby Tammaro River.

The village of Apice is promoting ancient flavors with an event called the “Sagra degli Orti Apicesi.” With the intention of dusting off old grandmothers’ recipes to give value and taste to local vegetables recognized as excellences in the Sannio region.  Alongside the vegetables you can find excellent quality pork, beef, sheep and poultry products. Coming from native farms, from animals raised according to the ancient method that preserves them from  the massive use of drugs and the exploitation of intensive livestock farms.

Finally we come to Benevento, known for its production of nougat, which was already known in Roman times, as shown by some writings of the historian Titus Livy. Even the Latin poet Martial tells us that cupedia was one of the gastronomic specialties of Sannio, and it is no coincidence that street vendors of nougat were called “cupetari.” Instead, the term “torrone” is said to derive from the Latin torreo, a verb meaning “to toast,” referring to the roasting of hazelnuts and almonds. In Benevento, the production of nougat has always been widespread, an activity that has since spread to the entire province, which over the years has been distinguished by the continuous rise of numerous production centers of excellence, such as the towns of Santa Croce del Sannio and Montefalcone di Val Fortore. The fame of nougat from Benevento, formerly an enclave of the Papal State, spread particularly in the 17th century, as, on the occasion of Christmas festivities, the product was even sent to Rome, as gifts to prelates and high dignitaries in the capital. It is no coincidence that in the following century one of the specialties produced, a real delicacy, was called precisely “nougat of the Pope.” But it was above all the Bourbons in the 1800s who enhanced the “cupeta beneventana” making it the Christmas product par excellence and starting a tradition that has been handed down over the centuries to the present day. If we talk about “Benevento nougat” today we refer to different varieties: the white one with almonds, the white cupedia nougat with hazelnuts, the white soft nougat with almonds, and the chocolate-covered nougat, typical of San Marco dei Cavoti; these nougats of different flavors share some characterizing qualities: they are very dry, sweet and crumbly. These products, today, represent a non-secondary resource in the economy of the province of Benevento and have the merit of using and enhancing some minor local productions, such as, for example, honey, representing, therefore, also an important factor of permanence in the territory. In recent years there has been a rediscovery and a certain revival of nougat, which has made possible, in addition to the survival of the old artisan firms, the birth of numerous new companies that are perfectly inserted in the traditional vein. The classic Benevento nougat is a sweet with simple basic ingredients: egg whites, honey, hazelnuts and almonds. Soft or hard, white or chocolate, almond or hazelnut, it is a delicacy with a superior, almost regal flavor. In it, art and tradition, past and present, come together in harmony: the choice of raw materials, processing and baking are carried out, in fact, with the same care and dedication as in the past. The use of artisanal production methods and respect for ancient recipes ensures the product’s quality and authenticity. The adoption of technological innovations by manufacturing firms does not affect the qualitative result, but rather allows for the creation of new flavors and increasingly varied assortments, always respecting the old recipes.

Among the traditional culinary dishes is cardone: it is a derivative of the French appetizer known as “consommé,” a clarified broth made from meat or fish. Cardone, in fact, consists of a soup of filleted chicken, to which thistles, plants belonging to the Asteraceae family, are added. The other main ingredients of this brothy composition are beaten eggs and ground meatballs and pine nuts. The birth of this recipe can be traced back to times rather distant from us, probably, moreover, such a dish was prepared and consumed by the humbler classes. It is believed that cardone was a food mostly present on the tables of peasant families. The precise place that would have given birth to the cardone would be located in the town of San Giorgio del Sannio.

Lo scarpariello: This is an ancient Samnite recipe that is very popular in the Benevento area; according to folk tales, this recipe was prepared with the leftovers that the peasants had at home and that were left over after feast days. The name probably comes from the fact that Monday was the “scarparo’s” day of rest. Basically everything that could be cooked was prepared with the addition of Sunday’s sauce. The recipe calls for using fresh cherry tomatoes, exstravergine olive oil, salt, garlic, fresh basil, chili pepper and grated local pecorino cheese to season the pasta.

Local products known and exported worldwide include: strega liqueur and Rummo pasta.