December 21, 2011

Divina Cucina on the Road- Benevento

This year I was invited to attend a wine festival south of Naples. I adore the wines of this region, mostly whites and knew little about the reds so was excited to join the group.

I adore travelling around any food and wine festival as you see the locals celebrating and each village has some special event. In Chianti we have festivals each weekend in Sept. So the chance to see another area of Italy celebrate and to taste all the best of their wines is a great excuse for travel.

One of the high points of the tour for me was to visit Benevento. I have always heard so much about it and adore the liquore Strega, which is from here too. It is made with 76 herbs and is fabulous used in dessert making. Benevento is also famous for it's torrone and witches!

The city is full of history and well worth the stop.

Benevento is located just east of naples and recently was named a Unesco site.  The church of Santa Sofia was incredible, built around 730 a.d. But I was most impressed by the museum with an  amazing collection of statues found on site.

We stayed in a old pasta factory turned into an exquisite UNA hotel with one of southern Italy's most famous young chefs running the kitchen, Angelo D' Amico. The rooms were some of the nicest I have been in in  all of Italy.

From our base in Benevento we were shown various wineries and wine makers in the area. We were at the local cooperative, La Guardinese while the grapes were being brought in to be crushed, each member bringing in his own grapes and they were controlled and then  chosen for one of the many lines of the production.

I adored their sparkling wines, which were a real surprise, especially the one made from Falaghina, which is one of my favorite still whites from the region.

We were greated by members that were bringing in their grapes for the crush and after our tour we had lunch with some of the COOP members which had been cooked by their wives, a fabulous experience.
Great food, great wine and new friends.

The wine festival itself was in Solopaca, famous for it's rich red wines. The parade is so fun, with each area in town creating a float decorated with both white and red wine grapes and the locals in costumes.

her entire cape is made of the red wine grapes

the costumes were incredible and the parade fun

This is just a small taste of where I was and what I saw-- I will follow up with more foto's and some recipes after the holidays. The Sannio region of Italy is so untouched by tourism that it is great to visit.

here is a link  for information for touring the Sannio area.


  1. I LOVE Benevento!! My best buddy from college's entire family comes from there and still lives there.. I've enjoyed Christmas there and absolutely LOVE that town ( and those little casatina's sponge cakes )


  2. GREAT!- italy is full of tiny towns waiting to be discovered-- so many americans came from these towns-- time to go back and discover ones roots and promote the area!

  3. I had a great aunt who was born in this town. I know there was a story about "La Strega di Benevento" - I love using Strega in baking, especially Italian cheesecake and pastiera di grano. Buon Natale e buon capo d'anno! Auguri. xo

  4. Your photos are wonderful. You must have had a terrific time. This is my first visit to your blog, so I took some time to browse through your earlier posts. I'm so glad I did that. You've created a great spot for your readers to visit and I really enjoyed the time I spent here. I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  5. @mary- thanks- it was a blast, we were down in vinegars, in small and large wineries a great insight.

    Barbara F- my husband always tells me i am a strega( witch)-- there is a story about the witches of benevento---- but the liquore is one of my favorite for cakes- they also make a lovely torrone down there flavored with it.

  6. So very happy to have discovered your blog. What a wonderful town to visit and at the perfect time. You must have had a great time.

  7. Karen- it was fabulous-- i think the best time to visit is when there are festivals-- and italy is always celebrating something!

    Sept is the wine harvest, then comes the olive oil---- in late fall/winter.
    Probably my favorite time to travel-- for the food!

  8. You're in my neck of the woods! Angelina (to whom I've dedicated my blog) was from Apice, a *really* small hilltop town close to Benevento. They say the old town (which was abandoned after an earthquake rendered it uninhabitable) is now an open-air museum!

  9. @frank- love your blog!!! I think so many people's families came from down around here..... i hope you get back! the hospitality is wonderful- great food and wine!