The Sannio, in the hinterland area of Campania, stretches between Benevento and Caserta. Far away from the stereotypes of mass tourism, it distinguishes itself for its villages and green valleys and hills. Anyway, this area, in particular, has a rich food and wine tradition.
The Road of the Wine in Sannio
The Sannio has an old wine tradition. Today, it is the area with the most extensive wine production in Campania: only Benevento and its suburbs have produced half region's wine production.
Mount Taburno circumscribes the area. Benevento's people call the mountain The Sleeping Beauty because it looks like a lying girl. Its rich natural extension makes Sannio the perfect place for viticulture, the backbone of its territorial economy.
If you want to have a Sannio's wine tour, you may start from Solopaca, a town known for its Grape Feast in October. It is at the foot of Mount Taburno, where the sun struggles to reach the city: indeed, the name comes from Latin Solis Opaca (= medium sunlight). The town produces the same-named wine, Solopaca and Sangiovese.
On the other side of the valley, Castelvenere is the most vineyard town in Campania. Its village is full of tuff cellars that tell a mysterious story to discover. It produces the famous Falanghina Del Sannio DOP and the Barbera, the native vineyard of the village.
In addition to the wine, if you visit Castelvenere, you must taste the Scarpella: a typical dish prepared for Carnival or the Feast Day of St. Barbato. It is a kind of white pasta al Forno with sausage, eggs, fresh and grated mature cheese.
Still known for wine production, there is the ancient and enchanted Sant'Agata Dei Goti, a village on Mount Taburno. Since 1979, here the people produce Falanghina: a wine able to stand to time and combinable with typical dishes. Moreover, the experts suggest trying it with the Neapolitan pizza.
Then, on the slopes of Mount Taburno, they produce Aglianico, the most famous wine in Sannio Beneventano, which perfectly identifies its viticulture. Aglianico is a red, wise and ancient wine cultivated in this area for centuries. It is unique and not comparable with no one wine in Italy.
Salami in Sannio: from Soppressata to Pietraroja Prosciutto
You can't taste Sannio's wines without a platter of cold cuts. In the Sannio, there is the production of delicious Capocollo and sausages.
The best is the Soppressata del Sannio: made with the best pig's parts, like steak and shoulder, and riched with natural products, like sweetcorn, bran and acorns. The making is long and step-by-step, distinct in different stages of processing.
Also remarkable is Pietraroja prosciutto. Pietraroja is a town with less than 600 inhabits that rises on Mount Matese, bordering Molise and about 50 km far by Benevento. Its name comes from Latin Petre Ruens (= flowing earth) because of the frequent landslides.
Its prosciutto is so essential to be the town's symbol. The ancient processing systems, the typical weather and the fine mountain air make this cold meat a unique product with a delicate and unmistakable aroma. It has a distinct dark red colour with a slight milky-white layer of fat under the bacon, enhancing its organoleptic qualities. Perfect for enjoying in pieces with a glass of Falanghina.
Sannio's cheeses: from Caciocavallo to Pecorino
Don't fill your cutting board with only salami. Chose and also taste the delicious Sannio's cheeses.
In the Benevento area, they produce Silano caciocavallo cheese. It is a product exclusively made with cow's milk, in both types, sweet and spicy, eating it fresh or mature. The distinguishing mark is its hourglass shape.
Another cheese product widely spread throughout the Sannio Beneventano territory is pecorino cheese Laticauda, ideally consumed well seasoned. It is produced with Laticauda sheep's milk, different from the others for its production area and artisanal making.
If you want, you can embellish and enhance the cheese's taste, adding the Sannio Beneventano's honey: particularly popular and appreciated for the goodness of its aromas linked to the territory's flora.
Valle Telesina, Monte Taburno and Valle Caudina: the extravirgin oil's hills
In Sannio, another significant production is that of Sannio Caudino Telesino Olive's extra-virgin oil. It interests 35 towns of Benevento area, settled on the rolling hills of Telesina Valley, Caudina Valley and Mount Taburno. The olive growing in the sub-region has very ancient roots, together with the wine-growing.
The oil is yellow with green shades. On the nose, it denotes herbal notes, with evident hints of ripe apple, also appear to the taste and, in smaller measure, tomato. On the like, it is aromatic and delicate, with excellent hints of bitter and spicy. The picking olives must happen no later than the 31st of December and then press them within the picking second day.
The products of the Samnite lands and woods
Some of the fruit and vegetable products in Sannio for their high quality have received the recognition of typicity. It is the case of Montesarchio's peppers that are rich in nutritional elements for their geographic location and weather conditions. Recognized for its quality, also Pietrelcina's artichoke, well-known for its organoleptic qualities.
Other valuable quality products are Annurca apples of Caudina and Telesina Valleys, Bonea's onion, Tocco Caudio's cherry. And also, the San Lupo's bean, known as the queen's bean: in the 19th century, a knight from San Lupo, Achille Jacopelli, brings a bag of these to queen Maria Teresa, King Ferdinand II of Bourbon's wife.
Into the woods, such as Cusano Mutri, Faicchio, and Cerreto Sannito grow several mushroom species, like the vary valuable porcini. Among the other brushwood's products: chestnut, hazelnut, nuts, delicious wild strawberries, used to decorate cakes or prepare marmalades and liquors.
Discovering the Sannio's liquor and nougat
A Benevento's product, known in food and wine and literature, is the Strega liquor. Strega means "witch", and it is a reminder to the Jannare, Benevento's witches.
The Strega is a herbal liquor. It is produced since 1860, and its ingredients and making are a secret. It is supposed that its yellow colour is because of the saffron.
From this liquor comes out also the nougat. If you are looking for artisanal nougats, Sannio is the right place!
In particular, in San Marco Dei Cavoti, famous for its nougats' production. They have been the first to include the hazelnut inside the chocolate (like the famous Hershey's Kiss). Still here, they produce a typical cassata similar to the more famous Sicilian one, but it is different in taste.
In the end, among the other liquors produced in Sannio Beneventano, there is the Nocillo. An alcohol elixir is strictly made artisanally with the hunk of local nuts, which gives it the characteristic dark colour and its particular aroma.
Itinerary No. 1: Discovering Sannio's culture and religiosity
Benevento, the Samnite capital, boasts a vast artistic and cultural heritage, thanks to its thousand-year history. From the Roman amphitheatre to Trajan's Arch and the Hortus Conclusus garden...in Benevento, you can go from one era to another in just a few steps!
Its Church of Santa Sofia is part of "The Longobards in Italy. Places of power" on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The Roman Theatre of Benevento is one of the best-preserved globally and hosts numerous events, especially in summer evenings.
For the little ones, don't miss a visit to the Maitine Zoo in Pesco Sannita. Reservations at 0824 981084.
A few kilometres from Benevento, there is also Pietrelcina, the birthplace of Padre Pio. Strolling through the streets of the historic centre and touching the Saint's places is indeed a riot of emotions.
Finally, we recommend visiting San Marco Dei Cavoti and enjoying its magnificent panorama while savouring the delicious Sanniti cassatine (typical sweets) and famous nougat. It is a splendid medieval village, full of churches and beautiful historical buildings such as Palazzo Zurlo (14th century) with panoramic terraces. Or the Provençal tower (14th century), which became the bell tower of the church of San Marco in the 19th century.
Itinerary No. 2: The Sannio between ghost towns and original museums
If you like museums, the Museo del Sannio is the main museum in the province of Benevento and one of the most important in Campania. It contains exhibits from the Samnite period to numerous works by the most influential artists of the national 20th century, including Renato Guttuso, Corrado Cagli, Carlo Levi and Mimmo Paladino. The permanent exhibition, owned by Strega Alberti, "Le Streghe e il Gobbo di Peretola" (The Witches and the Hunchback of Peretola), was recently opened. For info and reservations, call 0824 774763 - 774764.
On the other hand, San Marco Dei Cavoti has the Museum of Tower Clocks: a precious collection of tower clock mechanisms dating from around 1400 and all over Italy. A heritage that, for the quantity and characteristics of its specimens, is unique in the world. For information and reservations, call 0824984009 - 349 88 14 424.
If you are also a lover of ghost towns, don't miss Apice, known as the New Pompeii. Here, the calendar has stood still since 1962, the year of a violent earthquake, which forced the inhabitants to abandon the village, taking only the essentials with them.
Itinerary No. 3: The history of Campania in four stages
In the Sannio region lies Sant'Agata de' Goti, a thousand-year-old village where archaeological excavations have brought important light finds from the Italic Age. It is on a sheer spur of tufa rock. It is rich in history, art and a crossroads between the Middle Ages and older populations.
After a stop at the picturesque village of Sant'Agata Dei Goti and admiring the majesty of the Acquedotto Carolino, we arrive at the Royal Palace of Caserta, an authentic Italian jewel and not only. Booking is compulsory on the official website www.reggiadicaserta.beniculturali.it.
Not to be missed is the "Complesso Monumentale di San Leucio": a rare and hidden gem. Inside, you will come across a path of industrial archaeology: restored and working looms for demonstrations, tools and utensils for processing silk, a hydraulic wheel for twisting cloth. Nearby, the Silk Museum and the Casino del Belvedere of the Bourbon family, with Hackert's masterpieces. For info and reservations, call 0823 301817.
Itinerary No. 4: The nectar of the gods in the Sannio region
You are in one of the lands that have been carefully cultivating its grapes for centuries, obtaining satisfaction from the goblets that toast all over Italy.
Passing through Castelvenere, defined as the most vine-covered municipality in Campania, and after sipping the typical Camaiola, you arrive at Guardia Sanframondi, a characteristic village dominated by the imposing castle. These are just some of the Sanniti towns recognised as European Wine Capital 2019, thanks to the production of Falanghina.
There are countless wineries along this route, so don't miss the chance to book a tasting and combine flavours and traditions.
Another cradle of good wine is undoubtedly the renowned Solopaca, which hosts the MEG, the Wine and Food Museum, with a view of the Taburno. It presents itself to visitors not as a static container of works and exhibits but as an interactive, multidisciplinary and constantly evolving project. For info and reservations, call 0824 977659.
Itinerary No. 5: Along the Ceramic Route and beyond...
In addition to its wine-making tradition, Sannio can also boast a tradition of craftsmanship thanks to its beautiful ceramics. The artisans of Cerreto Sannita and San Lorenzello take great care over the details of their ceramics and have made their work a source of pride for the Sannio region.
Cusano Mutri is also on the way: a village that is a mixture of taste, nature and...adventure! Here the bravest can experience the thrill of an excursion to the Caccaviola Gorge or continue in the direction of Pietraroja, to discover the famous Ciro dinosaur. The route is of medium difficulty and is mostly uphill.
Itinerary No. 6: The Waters Route
It is the ideal itinerary for those who want to discover the area on two wheels.
This fascinating tour will take you to a discovery of the most important parks in the area. Immersed in nature, you will visit Grassano Park, the ancient Jacobelli thermal baths, therms of Telese and the small but very beautiful and relaxing Telese Lake.
The route is purely flat and all the places mentioned are easily reached.
Hotel & Restaurant La Piana: happiness and relaxation in the heart of Sannio
If you decide to visit the Sannio and have a tour of its food and wine, for your stay, chose Hotel La Piana, in Amorosi close to Benevento. It is in the green Telesina Valley. The hotel has a strategic location that allows you to easily reach all the most crucial historic-sport and religious centres in Campania.
Winner of Travellers' Choice Award 2021 by Tripadvisor for its perfect location, welcoming and comfort. Family businesses where each family's member works into the daily duties of guest welcoming and staff management, guaranteeing all their courtesy and helpfulness. A value that makes a difference!
Its rooms are clean, welcoming and carefully tended. Its open spaces are huge and keep well: during your stay, you will be surrounded by green grass and dispose of a room with a landscape view.
Its restaurant has two rooms and one open space. Its cuisine is delicious and offers both Sannio's typical dishes and Central-South Italy's delicacies very well prepared. It serves both meat and fish, and it is available on a gluten-free menu.
Hotel & Restaurant La Piana is definitely the right choice if you want to relax and have lovely cuisine!Book your stay or table❯