THE TREASURES OF SANNIO
In the heart of Beneventan Sannio
We are in the heart of the ancient Beneventan Sannio, in that green, unmolested Campania known to so few. Rows of centuries-old vines and olive groves trace a landscape made up of hills and valleys and rock-chiselled gorges. Small stone hamlets, castles and medieval fortresses recount their age-old history and millennia-old traditions, beginning from the pre-Roman era and going up to the Mediaeval period. All around, the Matese Park and the Taburno-Camposauro Park: unsullied terrains inhabited by wolves and golden eagles, with crystalline lakes, and high peaks where forts, castles and villages spring up. Where, in the 1500s, ‘Janare’ – Benevento’s witches – held their nocturnal sabbaths.
Sant’Agata dei Goti is one of Italy’s most beautiful villages. It offers unforgettable panoramas amid small shops brimming with the tastiest of morsels: from the famous San Marco dei Cavoti chocolate torroncini to black pork salami, stroll amid noble mansions, churches and silent cloisters.
In San Lorenzello and Cerreto Sannita, the ceramics tradition of ceramics is alive and thriving. At the windows of the mediaeval stone buildings, old ladies can be seen making bobbin lace, a legacy of the Kingdom of Naples.
Guardia Sanframondi is famous for its wine production and for the spectacular Battenti procession: Seven Year Rites which take place every seven years in the week following 15 August.
The city of Benevento is an open-air museum: it ranges from spectacular Roman remains – Trajan’s Arch, Roman theatre – to the early Middle Ages with the monumental Santa Sofia complex – Unesco World Heritage site – dating from the Lombard period, up to the Baroque in the form of the convent of San Domenico, where contemporary artist Mimmo Paladino created his famous installation Hortus Conclusus in modern reinterpretation of artistic imagery of the past.
The Sannio Caudino Archaeological Museum merits the trip: the collection of Magna Graecia vase collection – the fourth century BCE “kraters”– will leave you speechless. The most famous, the Assteas krater, was part of the Getty Museum collection for over 20 years, only return to its place of origin in 2005. At the exit, the Caudina valley lies in the distance, where in 321 BCE the Samnites defeated the Romans in the renowned Battle of the Caudine Forks. Before arriving at the museum, treat yourself to a coffee break in the town’s gorgeous historic centre.
Hiking in the Taburno Regional Park is popular with keen trekkers who move through dense beech woodland, all the while taking in the spectacular foliage, or follow hidden trails on the hunt for mushrooms or truffles. Water from the snow-topped peaks creates gorges and canyons where, helmeted and harnessed up, you can dive right into your quest to discover nature.
Reggia di Caserta
The largest royal residence in the world and a Unesco World Heritage Site, the Royal Palace was commissioned by Charles III of Spain as symbolic of the power of Naples and its court. The central building houses 1200 rooms; the grounds extend to 3km in length between gardens, fountains, basins and genuine waterfalls with the water brought by the imposing Caroline Aqueduct, a Unesco world heritage site. A triumph of beauty in late Baroque-Rococo style that straddles the neoclassical.