Itineraries: from Agnone in Campobasso. Molise between history and gourmet stops

They call it “the region that does not exist”. And I've always wondered what this expression to define the Molise. I wanted to go to see these places that my imagination could see similar to Abruzzo, Mountain Green. And in four days I visited this region and I saw her in her two faces: the cold winter and hot spring mountains and Plains and Campobasso. I chose to visit the inland areas, Alto Molise, and no coastal, and will certainly come back to see the Tan by the sea at sunset. The impression I got is that of a green region, rich in natural resources, from traditions and agro-pastoral still alive and fairs, like that of the transhumance, in recent years is gradually rediscovering. A region that still feels crossroads of what was called “the civilization of the tracks”, in a location which combines Abruzzo, Molise and Puglia. A land of great raw, with people that work hard, who speaks little and giving you much to do. What I remained at the heart of Molise are its villages, stuck between heaven and Earth, wedged on rock outcroppings where it is almost impossible to conceive of the settlements. Villages unfortunately penalised by access roads, they deserve a little’ more maintenance, excluding those of various Valley that are well maintained. Molise is also fine dining and food-fruits: from cheese to bread, from traditional desserts to an extraordinary olive oil: a paradise for gourmets, even for prices, really very below average.

AGNONE – I started my journey from Agnone, in the province of Isernia, City of Samnite origin and home to the oldest factory of bells in the world. Like all villages in the Molise, Agnone is 840 metres high and is surrounded by green, surrounded by forests and streams. From afar, soar the many steeples of churches: in the small town in fact there are thirteen. Between these, the Church of Sant'Emidio (with the adjoining library Emidiana), the Church of San Marco and the Church of Sant'Antonio Abate. You should also visit the Church of San Francesco, National Monument, and its cloister: dates back to the 14th century and has a Gothic portal surmounted by a beautiful rose window. Among the most beautiful places of the town is the Piazza Plebiscito, with its fountain dating back to 1880.

AGNONE – The historic town of Agnone is Venetian plant, as you can see from the many statues of Lions, symbol of the Serenissima, around the country. In the twelfth century, in Agnone, Venetian artisans came with Lacy Borrello, noble Molise who served at the Court of the Doges of Venice and recreated environments of the lagoon city in the Centre of Molise. From Venice he arrived in Molise the ancient art of copper processing that, in the middle ages, in the Valley of the river Verrino, had favored the creation of the ancient copper foundries, hydro-mechanical operation. Today, in the Centre of Agnone, the artisans have not forgotten their origins. And if you want to know how to operate the master Ramal I recommend you visit the ancient family workshop Of Aloise, along Corso Garibaldi, the shopping street.

TO TASTE IN AGNONE: PASTRY CAROSELLA – Along the Corso Garibaldi, you will find the historic Pastry Carosella: a traditional sweets shop fully managed by women, from whose hands out sweets without compromise, made mostly with fresh ingredients and Molise but without neglecting the best of other regions (as Sicilian almonds of Avola). It's the little things make these cakes: no use of preparations, strictly fresh eggs, the milk and cream the best on the market, the little secrets of family recipes that have been handed down for four generations: over 172 years all over. Secrets like the three chocolates (White, milk and dark chocolate), Roberta Sabelli uses to balance the taste of Imperial pastes. The most notorious of Agnone are the hosts ' prene’ (filled with a paste of cocoa, honey and dried fruit), but don't underestimate the goodness of Imperial pastes, mostaccioli, marzipan and, Obviously, the taste of confetti ricci. In this ancient recipe, the almonds are sprinkled with Gum Arabic and then sugar syrup. The use of bassine (rotating containers) allow the sugar to crystallize irregularly and get the dragee on the surface roughness.

TO TASTE IN AGNONE: TRADITIONAL FLAVOURS – Cristina Palacio is the heart of the bakery Traditional Flavours, where things get with the rhythm of the rising and are closely related to seasonal products. Enter this small shop means having spoiled for choice on what to try first: recommend the delicious fiadone, a kind of savoury focaccia with cheese and eggs, light and fragrant. Then the Donuts ' annasprate’ (covered with icing), Pecan macaroons, mostaccioli with bitter orange heart, the hosts prene, the ' cocorozzo’ with anise in, the ' chestnuts’ short pastry, chocolate coated with extra virgin olive oil. Antonio only uses local raw materials or, at most, the nearby Abruzzo. Wheat is of Molino Caesar, cheese of caseificio Di Nucci. The bread is, Obviously, sourdough. You must not miss that with potatoes and bread pizza. SI have been in Molise at the end of Easter and, to my surprise, from ancient flavors I found the Panettone! "Si, Panettone. The explanation is as simple as ' weird ': the agnonesi during the Christmas holidays are usually eat the hosts prene, While the Panettone eat them at Easter…

CACIOCAVALLO DI AGNONE – One of the flags of the gastronomic tradition agnonese is caciocavallo, recognized by the Molise region as a traditional food product (Pat). I'm used’ called “cheese of transhumance” for his craft and yet completely processing, in practice, is the historical memory of the tracks. In this video, turned to the dairy Of Nucci, You can see the processing, but I suggest you read Here the article to learn more and be enchanted by this extraordinary cheese.

WHERE TO EAT IN AGNONE: LOCANDA MAMMI’ – The restaurant that you do not expect: Stefania Daven, student of the first cooking classes designed by Niko Romito (Michelin-starred chef of ristorante Reale, in Castel di Sangro), created in an agricultural area, and in what used to be the family home, the Locanda Mammì: a sort of Bistro where the food is made with seasonal and local ingredients, paired so creative but without distorting the essence of the tradition. The menu gives particular attention to vegan dishes, vegetarian and gluten free. Stefania had clear ideas since the beginning of his career: go home and open a restaurant (that is also an Inn with beautiful rooms) in your country. And it did. A lot of attention to the client, from the chef's welcome with a glass of Prosecco di Valdobbiadene extra dry and a potato cream with Parker and mayonnaise with raspberries to the pastries offered after a meal. Everything is local, Since the water (Malek) and the wine list is well selected, with mostly local labels, and with some hiking in Abruzzo, Northern Italy but also France. Nice and rare to the fact that each dish is served on hot plates; bread and breadsticks are home-made with sourdough, as well as pasta and gnocchi. Among the starters (6-8 paper euros) I tried three dishes: a great onion and Parmesan pie with onions; a mini lamb burgers, well cooked, with mayonnaise with raspberries; the beef tongue with fennel and oranges, very fresh. Among the first (7-8 euro) I chose the gnocchi with cheese with lemon and Mint, well balanced. Among the second (10-12 euro), the pork tenderloin with Tintilla wine sauce. Abundant and level the small pastry chef's offer: creme Brulee, currant and chocolate tart filling. On the account, a reasonable price-performance ratio for a restaurant not to Miss.

OLD MARINELLI FOUNDRY – A truly singular in Agnone is a visit to the Marinelli Papal Foundry. It's not every day you see produce bells and think that those objects resonate for decades in every corner of the Earth, Since this is the oldest Italian foundry and one of the oldest family businesses in the world, It is run by the same family since the year 1000. Just to name a few, are signed Marinelli the bells of the sanctuary of Pompeii, of Montecassino, Buenos Aires Cathedral, the Collegiate Church of Guardiagrele, the bells of several Jubilees and the Expo 2015 Milan. During the visit you will understand why build a Bell takes time and a precise knowledge of the laws of physics, Mathematics and harmony. Behind a simple sound, In fact, There are long and complex calculations and variables. To allow visitors to get better in this world the Foundry has created a Museum, where you can see ancient collections of bells and where you are prompted during production of a Bell, In addition to being a real musical instrument is also a work of art, decorated by masters in Visual Arts. And the demonstration ends with a lovely concert of bells played live.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL AREA OF PIETRABBONDANTE – Visit the Alto Molise means also admire a unique archaeological site, that of Samnite theatre of Pietrabbondante, located on top of Mount Saraceno nearly a thousand meters high. This is a theatre and two sanctuaries, built in the second century b.c., and rediscovered only in 1858, Thanks to the work of the Bourbon Kings. I'm used’ one of the oldest places of worship Samnites, and the main monumental testimony dated back to the Samnite (4th century b.c.). The theatre had seating for 2,500 spectators and was divided into upper and lower tiers, consisting of three rows of stone seats, with trellis, made from a single block of stone and decorated at either end by Crow's grifo, wonderfully well preserved. Stairways, porches and columns complement the collection. Everything is built in a whitish-gray stone, that still contrasts in a scenic with green meadows. Well worth a visit.

PIETRABBONDANTE – The archaeological complex belongs to the municipality of Pietrabbondante rising to 1200 metres above sea level, embedded and stretched between limestone boulders called “morge”. The historic centre of the village is medieval and was created over time with some of the stones of the archaeological complex of the Samnite Theatre, looted until in 1857 it was clear that at that point there were buried a shrine and a temple.

WHERE TO EAT: BY ADRIANO – After visiting the archeological site of Pietrabbondante move into nearby Carovilli for a rustic lunch By Adriano. When you enter the restaurant you will be greeted like a friend's House, straight to the kitchen, where you will be offered a brandy and caciocavallo of Carovilli cheeses. Then you sit down in a simple room, with checked tablecloths. The menu does Adriano and is at a fixed price: 30 euros, including water and wine. One recommendation: sit with that hungry because, No matter what you eat, even just the appetizers, the price will not change, so take your time and eat with appetite all you will arrive at the table. In the kitchen there are the same Hadrian, his wife and children. Long and luscious the roundup of appetizers: the rare salami under suet, a very good ricotta from outcrop, the bread dipped in egg and fried (children's snacks), the torn Molise, the Crouton with cheese fresh and burrino, artichoke heart salad and caciocavallo, Grilled pizza di Adriano, oven baked scamorza, pancakes with meat broth, meatballs & cheese (dish of his own design). As the first: Fettuccine with lamb ragu, followed by the traditional mixed grill or roast lamb. Desserts are simple and they change according to the inspiration of the chef.

CAPRACOTTA – In an itinerary on the Alto Molise, You cannot switch from Capracotta: 1421 metres above sea level, the second highest town in the Apennines. Although medieval, Capracotta was built virtually from scratch after the damage suffered during World War II and today is known as one of the top ski destinations in Molise, Although my interest was rather turned to the famous pecorino di Capracotta. Here, in altura, He passed one of the most important tracks of Molise, that has made the country one of the focal points of the transhumance.

TO TASTE: TROTTA CHEESES – Oreste Trotta likes to call a deep top refiner in Molise. His shop, Trotta Flavors, born thanks to father Sebastian, a tailor by trade with the passion of the cheeses that he decided to return to Capracotta after a stint in Rome, Noting a small food shop. From a few wheels of cheese, kept for a few special clients, until you get to the craft of refiner, the step was short. Orestes's son inherited the paternal passion. His store looks like, at first glance, a small supermarket by country, those where you can find some’ of all, but actually hides the real treasures, both the sales counter, both in adjacent rooms where Oreste leave cheese and salami. Distinguishing the products refined by Oreste Trotta is a trademark “T” that is printed on the pecorini for over 45 years. The cheeses come directly from Carovilli: the cheese is made from milk in may (Alto Molise Alpine huts) It is proposed in the normal types, truffle and grape skin (created directly from Orestes with the skins of the grapes typical of Molise, Tintilia). Other cheeses: unforgettable scent of canestrati sheep of various ages, get free grazing sheep's milk. Orestes enjoys taking care of some hams, seasoned by 16 to 24 months, arriving directly from producers of Abruzzo and tasty brawn. Not to be missed, If you want to make an unusual experience, the appointment of 31 December, When Orestes opens a form of seasoned for at least two years and celebrates, with friends, customers and tourists, the new year.

VASTOGIRARDI – This tiny village is one of the most beautiful villages in Italy: like many places in Molise is medieval and is dominated by a castle at court that contains within it a core of housing, a square and a church of 1400 (the Church of St. Nicholas). Vastogirardi is also known as the village of volo dell'angelo, a commemoration dedicated to our Lady of grace which is held for over one hundred years in early July, where a little girl dressed as an Angel is scrolled on a pulley for about 40 meters up to the churchyard, where is the statue of the madonna. Don't miss a walk through the narrow streets and stone staircases. Particular the sign at the entrance of the village: “Attention, slow down. In this country the children still play in the street”. Things of the past which is nice find.

PESCOLANCIANO – In my itinerary for the villages of Molise, I would suggest a short layover in Pescolanciano, overlooking the Valley of the river Trigno. This country is gathered around a small castle, the first settlement dates back to the eighth century, Although the structure we know today was built around the year 1224, hexagonal and torre maestra, still well preserved. The castle is private property, unless some locals that were purchased by the province of Isernia. And unfortunately is open only by reservation: I did not know, but you are more fortunate because I've just warned.

BAGNOLI DEL TRIGNO – The vision of Bagnoli del Trigno from afar is amazing: the symbol of this town of Molise is undoubtedly the campanile di San Silvestro, built directly on a spur of rock, on which clings the Church. Built in the 13th and 14th centuries, the hotel is literally stuck between two rocks leaving visible only the side walls. Sunlight shines through a beautiful bell tower roof in coloured tiles. Worth the effort (huge, honestly) to see the Church and Bell Tower: It can be reached, In fact, just walk, through one of the staircases that climb the side of the cliff. Even higher, the town is dominated by the ruins of the castello San Felice: most striking is undoubtedly one of the villages of Molise.

THE SHEEP-TRACKS – Along the roads of Alto Molise you will often see the Brown tourist signs which mark the beginning and end of a track, ancient route that herds and men travelled during the transhumance of animals. I must admit that today is quite difficult to identify them. Being no longer practised as it once was, these highways of transhumance are covered with layers of grass, but a keen eye (not mine) still unable to discern the path, where the terrain is lower due to the weight of the animals and of the constant passage of herds. The most important paths (from Abruzzo through Molise up in Puglia) follow the L'aquila-Foggia (243 km); Pescasseroli-Candela (211 km); Celano-Foggia (207 km) and Castel di Sangro-Lucera (127 km) and still trails by animals and men, albeit enormously less than before.

FROSOLONE – Out Of Pescolanciano, take the scenic route, via Civitanova del Sannio, leads in Frosolone. In this center of high Hill, where even in summer there is a pretty cool, You can stroll through narrow streets and cobbled stone: starting from the Fountain of the Immaculate, continue along Corso Garibaldi, surrounded by medieval and 19th-century homes. Worth a visit are the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, consecrated in 1309, the Baron's Palace and the Museum of cutting tools, dedicated to the extraordinary art of cutlery, that is the most important town of Frosolone del Molise. To the point that when we use the term Frosolone is like if you used another word for knife. Among the most ancient craft workshops, entrances to cutlery Rocco Petrunti, dating back to 1800.

WHERE TO EAT, PIANA DEI MULINI – Left Frosolone, on the road to Campobasso, make a stop at the restaurant resort Piana dei Mulinthe, Colle d'anchise. A building dating back to 1700, that is historical residence and albergo diffuso, with times and stone columns and a cosy lounge where you can taste various typical: a platter of cold meats, accompanied by honey, Jam and an excellent ventricina; pasta dishes based on seasonal ingredients (I tried the homemade cavatelli pasta with asparagus and cream cheese); among the second, You can choose between grilled meat and pork tenderloin; Don't miss a colorful mixed fruit platter served on ice, which is rare now in Italian restaurants. In menu a few proposals, but tasty and well done. Very low prices: you eat with 25 euros each. The wine list is mostly Molise with a fair choice between the various territories.

ORATINO – The old Loretinum is, According to some sources, of Norman origin. The village is located around 10 minutes ' drive from Campobasso and is a little gem, a concentration of stone roads, adorned with balconies, balustrades, coloured wooden portals. Beauty is also in the dilapidated houses, roofs ripped open that cross the sky, in sunbeams on the pottery of the Bell Tower. I'm used’ a center where the handicraft, and art in General, were put to the service of the community: Here they worked stone masons, glass blowers, painters who then brought their work around the Molise and beyond. The beautiful church of Santa Maria Assunta is proof of this artistic fervor that has spanned the centuries, as well as the Doge's Palace and Casa Garcia. Finally, was the Green piazza Giordano to make me one of the most beautiful gifts: a spectacular sunset, overlooking the Valley of the river Biferno. Not to be missed.

FARLEY – Around Campobasso, on a hill overlooking the city, is Farley. Nicknamed la sentinella del Molise (“Lu Salimi”) because of its location incredibly overview, Ferrazzano is surrounded by high walls that enclose the baronial Castle of Carafa family-Molise, dating back to 1100 and restored in the 15th century, today still privately owned. The old village, on the southern side of the country, It was built stone by stone and is very well preserved. To see, the Church of the assumption, which houses a 13th century baptismal font and several paintings of 1700.

CAMPOBASSO – Between sunsets with spectacular views at 360 degrees on the valleys, you get to Campobasso, dominated by its castle, framed by picturesque stone alleys. The castle of Monforte is the ancient heart of Campobasso and is 700 meters high. Matches from this Hill overview, accessible by car or through stairways and climbs through the alleys (and I suggest you force because you'll find really beautiful views), to discover the city, capital of Molise, of Lombard origins. Descending to the lower quarters of the town, through small and winding staircases, you will gradually its churches: the Church of San Giorgio, built in the year 1000, that preserves precious frescoes of the fourteenth century, the 13th-century St. Bartholomew, Sant'Antonio Abate, the Romanesque church of San Leonardo and Santa Maria della Croce. Don't miss a visit to the Samnite Provincial Museum, that preserves one of the most important collections of Samnite period, partly coming from the theater of Pietrabbondante.

TO TASTE, BRISOTTI PASTRY – In Campobasso, not far from the central piazza Vittorio Emanuele, shopping along the course sit down for a break in the historic Brisotti Coffee, venue for all the inhabitants of Campobasso: Here you will find an excellent local bakery, with bells, light yeast, an aperitif full-bodied and varied and a good artisan gelato.

Misery and Nobility in Campobasso

WHERE TO EAT, POVERTY AND NOBILITY’ – A secure address in Campobasso is the restaurant Poverty and nobility, in one of the most central streets of the city. The restaurant is located on the first floor of a 19th century House and is divided into several rooms furnished in a rustic style with coloured walls, almost as if he were still a House. Staff extremely polite and professional, Misery and Nobility offers very affordable four-course menu at 30 euros, including a traditional, one without gluten, one fish. And still, an 8-course chef's tasting menu with 60 euros. All menus are often paired with wine, by the sommelier, included in the price. By ordering the paper, the appetizers range from 7 to 10 euros, and are reinterpretations of dishes, as Aubergine Roulades and caciocavallo podolico, the cannolo bread with baccala, olives and capers, meatless meatballs and ricotta cheese with artichokes and yoghurt sauce. Among the first courses (9-13 euro), I tried some excellent and plentiful agnolotti with pumpkin flowers and almonds, tomato and basil and the delicate cavatelli of buckwheat, lard, Mint and pecorino. On main courses (10-14 euro), the inevitable lamb, presented in three firings: Meatball, Herb Roasted Prime rib and thigh. I'm used, for seafood lovers, In addition to codfish that is inducted into culinary tradition of Molise, There's the fillet of sea bass with artichoke with thyme and Red beet. Among the desserts, a delicious selection of ice creams, drowned and panna cotta. We tried the custard, with yogurt ice cream, sour cherries and corn biscuits. Between 4 and 7 desserts costing all euro. The restaurant is also a pizzeria, with 100% stone ground flours worldwide from sustainable agriculture, a dough that is 72 hours for rising and selected ingredients: the pizzas cost between 7 and 10 euro. Wine cellar with a wide selection of wines of Molise and a decent selection from North to South Italy. fairly priced and very talented sommelier and prepared.

THE MOLISE – Fifth Italian company pasta production, The Molise has historically been managed by the family Carlone who led the company in pioneering, made her grow, Although then in 2011 went to meet a failure for family events. Detected by the Iron group, It is now led by a younger generation, consisting of four cousins (Domenico, Joseph, Vincenza and Scarlett) all between 40 and 49 years. The Group Iron works in the milling sector for 100 years and now the company provides raw material Mill, The flours, processing plant. The wheat used is both national and (South Italy and Molise) and foreign (Canada, Arizona and Australia) and between mill and pasta factory company employs over 120 people. Attention to the territory is a cornerstone de La Molisana, and from December 2016 a sectoral agreement allows the factory to produce pasta with beans exclusively grown in basso Molise (variety Majesty and Don Matteo). In June 2017 there will be the first harvest and thereby the production of a paste 100% made in Molise, with the indication of origin on the label. Are the fragrance of wheat and the warmth of the dough just exiting dies, still soft in hot, the thing I was most of the plant tour. And yet the row order of spaghetti that sway, ready for cutting. Eight production lines: three long dies, three court, one of the nests of semolina, a bird nest with eggs: the process appears simple, the ingredients are just two, wheat and water. No salt. The grain is mixed already inside the mill, then it is transported directly in the plant, where is stored in nine silos according to the type, past under a magnet to remove ferrous parts, and sifted to remove any lumps. The bronze dies are washed each use with water pressure. The semolina is then mixed with water for 15 minutes, the mixture is milled (crushed), then goes through the dies and is trimmed with a fully automated procedure. Once the pasta from the Pasta shapes, you go to dryness, because the water content must pass from 30% to 12%. During this phase the dough goes through three furnaces with different temperatures that make a gradual drying (at 80 degrees centigrade) It takes about three to four hours to seven hours for those long and short formats (slow drying). The product is then cooled down to 20 degrees and packed. From the moment the flour is delivered to the plant through to packaging spend an average 5-6 hours.

CAMPOBASSO – After visiting the upper part and the Castle area of Campobasso, Scroll down towards the bottom, nineteenth century. Once in Piazza Gabriele Pepe head to the Cathedral, flanking the Savoy Theatre, Art Nouveau. I suggest you then to visit, not far, La Piazzetta Palombo: founded in 1896 as farmers ' market, Since 2000 was revived by local craftsmen who have reopened the old shops (Cobblers, leather goods, home decor).

TO TASTE, CONFECTIONER'S SUGAR AND VANILLA – If in addition to traditional cakes you'd like to try a more modern cutting Campobasso, with excellent leavened products, baked goods, modern French croissants and cakes, I recommend the Patisserie Sugar and vanilla, a small business operated by hand with high quality pastry, at very competitive prices. Definitely worth stopping here for a gourmet breakfast.

WHAT TO BUY – In Molise you'll be spoilt for choice for your souvenir wine tours: starting from cheese, Caciocavallo, Pecorini, torn up, Manteca, caciosalame, passing through the meats as the local and the ventricina, to continue with the taralli, the wild onions, a bottle of Tintilia Molise and a local extra virgin olive oil. In Campobasso there is a secure address where to find a wide range of products molisani: the grocery Of Chiro.

WHERE TO EAT IN CAMPOBASSO, ZI CONCETTA – Joining the Cave of Zi’ Concetta, historic Tavern in the historic city center, is like stepping into Grandma's House. The cuisine offered here varies from day to day: There is a menu, or a wine list, but it is a must for the tourist, also because it is one of the places frequented by Malay veraci. The choices are those of tradition, rare to find elsewhere: pizza and soup (a soup of herbs served with crumbled corn pizza), orecchiette pasta with meat sauce, palotte “cheese and ova”, grilled meat, Grilled scamorza cheese accompanied by a fresh salad, stuffed vegetables, pasticciotti. Find cheap, otherwise you can not find the place even on weekdays, because this place is always busy. The dishes are plentiful and tasty, the very friendly family service and a menu from appetizers to desserts, including water and wine, It costs 25 euros.

WHERE TO STAY IN CAMPOBASSO, PALAZZO CAJEPE – The claim of Palazzo Cajepe reads: “Sleep in art”. And I must agree: in a really small piece, 80 euros per night, You'll sleep in a suite in a palace built in the 17th and 18th centuries. Palazzo Cajepe is in the historic center of Campobasso and the bed and breakfast (luxury category) It is on the main floor, overlooking stores and small square Pa. The magnificent tiled floors, the frescoes on the walls and ceilings, the original fixtures were rigorously maintained, but the décor is a modern collection of modern art, from lamps to executives, passing vessels, day bed, chairs and bedside tables. Scattered for books and art catalogs. Excellent solution for bathrooms, built and furnished in a modern design, they have crystal clear instead of ceiling in order not to lose the beauty of the frescoes. All the suites are different from each other, only. A place that, in the quality-price ratio, is a winner and I would strongly recommend: Emanuela, He remodeled his father, Architect, investing time, money and passion in this adventure, is a woman strong and full of initiative and will give a lot of useful tips for your stay in Campobasso in Molise.

(route done in may 2017)

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