Sannio, in the province of Benevento, is a real gem of the Campania hinterland.
When we talk about travels in Campania too often we think of the coastal cities, the sea, the city of Naples, or even the Vesuvian archeology of the buried cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabia. In this way, however, we tend to underestimate the importance of the Campania hinterland: an area rich in surprising beauty among nature, art, archaeology.
We are talking about Sannio, a historical-geographical region that roughly corresponds to the province of Benevento, so-called because of the ancient presence of the Samnites, an Italic population that lived in these places in the seventh and sixth centuries BC.
A trip to Campania can also be this, with the discovery of the city of Benevento and other small villages that represent for Italy a unique treasure of inestimable value. Discover the heart of Sannio and don't miss anything of the colors, flavors, and history of this small corner of Italy.
Benevento, the city of art and witches
Let's start with the ancient Osco-Samnite city of Benevento, a place that is unique, capable of attracting and bewitching thanks to its considerable artistic, cultural and natural wealth. Suffice it to say that UNESCO has included some of its architecture in the list of World Heritage Sites, as part of the serial site 'The Lombards in Italy: places of power', an extraordinary piece of Italian medieval history that can be experienced in a unique way here, and not only.
The city is also rich in Roman remains, including the famous "Arch of Trajan", dedicated to the Roman emperor of the same name, which is almost two thousand years old and has come down to us in an extraordinary state of preservation. In addition, there is the ancient Roman theatre built a few decades after the arch, inaugurated under Emperor Hadrian.
In addition to its artistic beauty, Benevento is well known in Italy for being the city of witches; there are still centuries of stories about how they used to gather under a large walnut tree on the banks of the Sabato river and perform their magic rituals there.
Myth and legend thus merge, with stories dating back at least to the 13th century. By the 20th century, the belief that meetings between various Italian witches took place in the Benevento area was already too widespread.
Cusano Mutri, Telese e Cerreto Sannita
Sannio is not only Benevento but also a series of small towns surrounded by nature, hills, and mountains. This is the case of Cusano Mutri, a small village not far from Molise, which is surrounded by an extraordinary landscape and can be considered a real jewel of medieval art in Italy.
This part of Sannio is also known for the so-called Forre del Titerno, where you can go trekking.
These are a series of gorges created by the erosion resulting from the passage of the Titerno river, from which they take their name, capable of creating unique landscapes.
Erosion areas of great impact are the 'Forre di Lavello', located between the municipalities of Cerreto Sannita and Cusano Mutri, the 'Gole di Caccaviola' located in the municipality of Cusano Mutri, which also hosts the 'Gole di Conca Torta', located near the Reviola stream.
Nature is the main protagonist in these parts, such as the beautiful Telese Lake, located in the small spa town in the province of Benevento, which offers beautiful views and beautiful sunsets to get lost in. In the same area, we also find the "Grassano Park" (lit. Parco del Grassano), a charming naturalistic oasis that takes its name from the small river that flows through it: the Grassano. Here you can practice outdoor sports, relax and spend a day amid nature and peace of mind. A special place, not to be missed!
Montesarchio e Sant’Agata dei Goti
Moving a little further south, between the provinces of Benevento and Caserta are two other important municipalities in the Sannio region, known for their landscapes and historical architecture.
The first is Sant'Agata dei Goti, an incredible village perched on a spur of tufa rock, a place rich in history, art, and a crossroads between the Middle Ages and older populations. A town with a thousand-year-old flavor, where archaeological excavations are still in progress today, bringing to light important finds from the Italic Age.
The second is Montesarchio, which is part of the consortium of the most beautiful villages in Italy, where there is a very important museum that traces the history of all the ancient Samnite towns in the area: Caudium (today's Montesarchio), Saticula (Sant'Agata de' Goti) and Telesia (today's San Salvatore Telesino).
Knowing the history of these places also helps us to better respect the entire cultural cluster of Sannio, preserving its culture and historical traditions for the future. Helping us in this complex undertaking are our friends from Viaggigate88 who have been offering tours and experiences in the provinces of Caserta and Benevento for years. Highly recommended!