What to expect on our 5 night Italian cultural and culinary programme

What to expect on our 5 night Italian cultural and culinary programme

5 nights of Italian food and culture AWAY from the tourist trail. A unique opportunity to become immersed in an authentic community.

Live the slow life, discover ancient traditions.

  • All-inclusive MOLISE and Agnone
  • For groups of 7 – 10 guests
  • Our programme can be adapted according to preferences and the seasons
  • Private or family groups can be organised with a minimum of 5 people

Day 1

Arrival at Rome Fiumicino Airport (pm), greeted by a private driver in a minibus for transport directly to accommodation in Agnone.

Welcome aperitivo and orientation followed by dinner.

Day 2

Tour of the centro storico and stories of town history. A medieval town crafted by Venetian stonemasons, with 46 separate artisan guilds - expert gold and silversmiths, watchmakers, tailors, musicians and scholars, bell makers….. there’s a story around every corner.

Light lunch in Agnone.

Visit to the Fonderia Pontificia Marinelli and Museum, the world’s oldest bell foundry. It takes 3 months to make a bell, no two are the same - the methods used today have not changed for centuries and through umpteen generations of Marinellis.

Carlo’s cantina to taste home-made wine and salami - The ‘Carlo cantina experience’ with wine and stories - life traditions of yesterday and today.

Dinner in Agnone

Day 3

Explore the town shops, meet family food producers: cheese, salamis, pastries, sweets, honey, olive oil and ice cream. See how they create with such careful attention, and generations of experience.

Lunch with local specialities.

Hike from Capracotta to Agnone. 1421 meters above sea level. The views are stunning, the landscape as it has been for centuries.

Dinner outside of Agnone - My favourite restaurant is unassuming, charming, and you’d never find it on your own!

Day 4

Visit countryside caseificio for cheese making - many to choose from, all making exceptional daily produce of which they’re rightly proud.

Tour of the copper foundry and museum - step back in time, film and artefacts tell part of the story - today’s work continues the tradition.

Lunch outside Agnone, il Rifugio.

Guided tour of Pietrabbondante Samnite ruins. A stunning site, hear the fascinating history of the origins of the Molisani.

Aperitivo and walk around Carovilli, famous for truffles.

Dinner at Monte Pizzi - More exceptional cooking and attention to detail in this charming hillside home.

 Day 5

Azienda Agricola to explore the land, vines, animals, and vegetable garden. See how it’s done and get involved. Making sausages, harvesting grapes, producing honey - every season has its flavour.

Tasting lunch – produce and local dishes.

Back to Agnone for free time for visiting the shops and the town.

Cooking and eating dinner together in private home with Molise wines and homemade digestivi. Sharing food around a family table brings visitors right into the heart of the community - see how the pasta is made, and have a go yourself! 

Departure day 6

Departures in the minibus to Rome.

  • In a shared room with en-suite bathroom €1,000
  • In a private room with en-suite bathroom €1,150

Our accommodation is in beautifully restored family run B&Bs within walking distance of events and visits.

Recipe: Pizza e minestra from La Piana dei Mulini in Molise

Pizza e minestra, or Pizza di granturco is a typical Molisana dish and a perfect example of la cucina povera. With ancient origins, it’s basically a vegetable soup with softened cornbread. In Molise, corn ‘pizza’ has always been the daily bread of the poor. Laura...

Our ONLINE WORKSHOPS are zooming ahead

April and May Zoom Workshops have been a terrific success – the teachers were so impressed with YOUR participation, and I know from you, you’ve been impressed with THEIRS! SO – WE CONTINUE ... The new round of workshops now open for booking:   30 MAY – 20 JUNE    ...

ONLINE WORKSHOPS to complement your Italian Learning

The current lockdown is testing for everyone, but we’re also managing to find some silver linings. One of them, for me, is more time to study Italian. I am working with our wonderful teachers to put together a series of workshops, and the first one is about to...

A poem in Italian inspired by Maria Alice’s visit to Agnone, September 2019

Maria Alice joined us from the US and fell in love with Agnone, as so many have done!  She wrote this poem first in English and then worked on putting it into Italian.  This final version came to be with the kind help of Maria Alice’s teachers: Anna in Pennsylvania...

An introduction to the pre-Roman Samnites of Molise

Agnone, Pietrabbondante and the Sammnites - A territory rich in history. One of the names given to the ancient town of Agnone is “L’Atene del Sannio”, Athens of Sannium. Athens - because of Agnone’s rich cultural heritage, and Sannium - because Agnone is located in...

Live & Learn Italian Language Holidays – A taste of the 2 Week Programme

  Saturday, June 15-29, 2019 Our drivers Fernando and Donatella brought guests to Agnone in 2 batches - from Canada, Australia, the US and UK. Sunday, we went out to Marco’s, to hear about his honey and wine production. The pollen is extracted from wild fruits...

Guest Review of Live & Learn Italian by Joy Nash – Italian language vacations

Reflections on Summer 2018 The Live and Learn Italian immersion ‘experience’ was created completely organically, and continues to grow organically. Each year I discover new local characters and regional opportunities, and so the programme develops. It’s a language and...

Guest Review of Live and Learn Italian by Jenny Matthew, and her travels in Italia

  I'm delighted to share a wonderfully written guest review of Live and Learn Italian this month, resplendent with added tales from further Italian exploration by Jenny Matthew. Many guests find incorporating 2 weeks with us in Agnone as a great way to hone...

Ettore Marinelli – From precocious talent to Master Craftsmen

Emerging young artist of the Marinelli family, Ettore shared his work with us at the Bell Foundry this summer   The tradition of metalworking in Molise goes began three thousand years, when the Samnite tribe, once Rome’s fiercest rivals, were casting statues for...

La ‘ndocciata, Agnone’s most famous event

La 'ndocciata 2018On the 8th of December I finally saw l‘ndocciata, Angone’s most famous annual event. Believe it or not, I’d never witnessed it. High time then…It’s the biggest ‘festival of fire’ in the world, ‘una scia di fuoco’, and allegedly the oldest – though...

Immerse yourself in Italy

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A guide to Molise, Italy’s smallest province punching above its weight

A guide to Molise, Italy’s smallest province punching above its weight

One of Italy’s smallest, and certainly its youngest province, Molise was once part of Abruzzo. Just above Puglia with 35 kilometres of Adriatic coast, ancient Apennine hill towns, and a wealth of natural beauty, it’s still pretty undiscovered. Those who do come are charmed, so here’s a guide to Molise, when you visit, I know you’ll be charmed too!

For centuries shepherds herded their animals along the ancient tratturi from the Apennine hills to the plains of Puglia during the harsh winter months – La Transumanza. It’s a rough and beautiful landscape, where traditional customs and the slow life can be enjoyed, far from tourism. And visitors can practise their Italian – no waiters showing off in English here! The Molisani are proud of their customs, festivals, and natural, seasonal food; artisan cheeses, local truffles, excellent olive oil, unusual wine varieties, grilled meats and the many simple dishes of their cucina povera.

Agnone is a town of artisans. There were once 36 different guilds, a place of wealth and influence. The best copper vessels in all of Italy were forged in 5 foundries along the Verrino river, then hand finished by the master coppersmiths in 171 family workshops. Learn more in our blog post ‘The Master Coppersmiths of Agnone’. The Museo del Rame recounts their story: Museo del Rame

My grandfather’s cousins have been making bells here for over 1000 years. Fonderia Pontificia Marinelli Campane Marinelli is Europe’s oldest family business, the oldest bell foundry in the world, and the only one by papal appointment.

Bells are made by methods unchanged since the middle-ages. 

Gold and silver work is also very important to Agnone’s history, the museum in Isernia has a stunning collection of Agnonese jewellery, together with beautiful Molisani costumes, telling a fascinating social history. Visit Musec.is.it.

Nearby are the ancient Sannite (Samnite) ruins of Pietrabbondante, (meaning ‘plenty of stones’), a sacred site with two temples and an amphitheatre. With views reaching to Campobasso and the sea, we almost always get to explore all by ourselves. This Italic tribe, ancient Rome’s fiercest rival, was eventually defeated, becoming the empire’s bravest warriors. The centrepiece is Pietrabbondante Teatro. There’s a small but exceptional museum telling the Sannite story, and that of the origins of Italy – Museo Sannitico di Campobasso.

One of the best things about Molise is that there are very, very, few foreign tourists so here it is possible to live Italian, speak Italian and eat authentic, simple, and true Italian.

For keen travellers to Italy who have seen the famous sites and cities, a chance to discover this little known region and its continuing traditions, and to practise some Italian, is a delight.

 

Live and Learn Italian offers you study with qualified teachers, while living and engaging with a small community.

Immerse yourself in Italy

Let's discuss what works best for you...
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Baking bread with Mercedes

Baking bread with Mercedes

In the hills of Alto Molise, Mercedes rises at 3.30 to prepare her loaves for the wood-fired oven, using logs from her woods, and grain from her fields. Traditional bread baking for Mercedes, is all about the grain. The ‘pane casaerecio’ of her childhood was nothing like modern bread, even from the best local bakers. Using methods that had been traditional in her family, alternating crops, using only animal ‘stecco’ (manure, no chemicals) and keeping part of their 15 hectares fallow, she was able to produce a high-quality wheat, with only a small amount of gluten. Before long Mercedes was supplying her extended family, then neighbours. She soon found herself with a small group of clients and began to sell in artisan food markets and fairs.

30 kilos of bread are made daily in this little oven and once that is done, Mercedes makes delicious trays of pizza and a traditional breakfast cake, ‘pagnottini’, sweetened with a little local honey. She uses a small quantity of potato in the dough, which keep the bread softer for longer – a very old recipe from a time when bread needed to last weeks. And hers does, in fact, it’s better after a few days.

There’s no sign right now that her children will take up the mantle. It’s a hard day. After a long morning, Mercedes cleans and shuts the bakery, and tends to the vegetable garden and the grain fields – although all the family help with this. Then the house needs cleaning, and there are all the other chores. When the family’s 25 goats are giving milk, Mercedes also makes cheese. Once a year they slaughter a pig to provide the family meat.

Her son would like to continue this work and expand the small holding to make his livelihood and despite being very capable and entrepreneurial – he has been forced to find a job in a factory. This kind of rural livelihood is dying out because laws and heavy taxes make the work pretty much impossible for the younger generation.

Baking was traditionally a womans job – the men tended the land. But today with taxes and laws really working against small farmers, the women are keeping the land all by themselves while the men go out and get jobs in factories, or run their own enterprises. Like our driver, Fernando, who’s really a cattle farmer but has a 9-seater vehicle and a thriving taxi service, while his wife is left to look after and milk their 50 cows. Fernando manages to keep his land going, but needs to supplement their livelihood by driving.

Mercedes is the most engaging and amusing woman, full of insights and observations. It is an incredible pleasure to spend time in the bakery as she works, tasting the crusty pizza with tomatoes and herbs from her garden, and hearing stories of her family and her life. She is cautious about the future, but resourceful.

Immerse yourself in Italy

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A morning of truffle hunting in Molise, the second biggest producer of truffles in Italy!

A morning of truffle hunting in Molise, the second biggest producer of truffles in Italy!

Molise is the second biggest producer of truffles in Italy! Ottavio is from the contrada of Carovili, near Angone. When you mention his name the Agnonese say, ‘who?”. “The guy that hunts truffles,” I say, “Oh him, Ottavio, from Carovill”. Ottavio has lived in Agnone for at least a generation but he will always be from Carovilli, and so will his children. That’s the way it is here. (The master cheese makers, the family Di Nucci have lived in Agnone for 3 Generations, but they’re from Capracotta).

With his very well trained dogs, Eva and Kira, and a special licence in his back pocket, Ottavio goes out every day in the season, May to the end of August and then mid October till the end of January. The dogs have regular checks and are pristinely healthy – they take the truffles in their mouths, so they can’t be sick or ailing. Eva is a springer spaniel, her baby, Kira is mixed breed.

With loads of experience, Eva did most of the hunting, Kira is still learning. It takes 4-5 months to train a dog and practise is key. We went out at 6am when the dawn was just breaking, but Ottavio had already been out earlier with a head-lamp and had a fair haul. Truffles are found in patches, close to large trees, but with little or no ground cover. It was a beautiful day once the early chill wore off and lovely to get deep into the woods. One or two of Ottavio’s favourite spots had been ‘done’ when we got there, probably not by another professional, but someone out to find a private stash for his pasta.

Molise is the second biggest producer of truffles in Italy and these are prized. The most common type is scorzone, which grows both in winter and summer. The bianchetto grows between January and March. The two most prized varieties are Nero preggiato and Bianco, which grow between October and February.

The dogs know just where to find them, their sense is very keen and although the Scorzone sit just below the surface of the soil, the bianco are deep and can take some digging; sometimes so deep it’s incredible they find them at all.

There has been a lot of tree felling in the region, not good for truffles, and Ottavio now has to go deep into the woods. Scorzone fetch about €1000 per kilo, but they don’t weigh much, so that can take a while. The bianco, much rarer, fetch more like €4000 per kilo, but that’s not to say the scorzone are inferior, most chefs prefer them.

Ottavio’s truffles get sold to restaurants mostly – there is quite tight regulation on this too, and you can’t just sell them anywhere. Most of Molise’s truffles get made into crema or olio di tartufo, and other types of pasta sauces. But there is nothing lovelier than taking a fresh truffle, wiping it gently clean and then shaving over a bowl of fresh home-made pasta!

Explore more posts:

Recipe: Pizza e minestra from La Piana dei Mulini in Molise

Pizza e minestra, or Pizza di granturco is a typical Molisana dish and a perfect example of la cucina povera. With ancient origins, it’s basically a vegetable soup with softened cornbread. In Molise, corn ‘pizza’ has always been the daily bread of the poor. Laura...

Our ONLINE WORKSHOPS are zooming ahead

April and May Zoom Workshops have been a terrific success – the teachers were so impressed with YOUR participation, and I know from you, you’ve been impressed with THEIRS! SO – WE CONTINUE ... The new round of workshops now open for booking:   30 MAY – 20 JUNE    ...

ONLINE WORKSHOPS to complement your Italian Learning

The current lockdown is testing for everyone, but we’re also managing to find some silver linings. One of them, for me, is more time to study Italian. I am working with our wonderful teachers to put together a series of workshops, and the first one is about to...

A poem in Italian inspired by Maria Alice’s visit to Agnone, September 2019

Maria Alice joined us from the US and fell in love with Agnone, as so many have done!  She wrote this poem first in English and then worked on putting it into Italian.  This final version came to be with the kind help of Maria Alice’s teachers: Anna in Pennsylvania...

An introduction to the pre-Roman Samnites of Molise

Agnone, Pietrabbondante and the Sammnites - A territory rich in history. One of the names given to the ancient town of Agnone is “L’Atene del Sannio”, Athens of Sannium. Athens - because of Agnone’s rich cultural heritage, and Sannium - because Agnone is located in...

Live & Learn Italian Language Holidays – A taste of the 2 Week Programme

  Saturday, June 15-29, 2019 Our drivers Fernando and Donatella brought guests to Agnone in 2 batches - from Canada, Australia, the US and UK. Sunday, we went out to Marco’s, to hear about his honey and wine production. The pollen is extracted from wild fruits...

Guest Review of Live & Learn Italian by Joy Nash – Italian language vacations

Reflections on Summer 2018 The Live and Learn Italian immersion ‘experience’ was created completely organically, and continues to grow organically. Each year I discover new local characters and regional opportunities, and so the programme develops. It’s a language and...

Guest Review of Live and Learn Italian by Jenny Matthew, and her travels in Italia

  I'm delighted to share a wonderfully written guest review of Live and Learn Italian this month, resplendent with added tales from further Italian exploration by Jenny Matthew. Many guests find incorporating 2 weeks with us in Agnone as a great way to hone...

Ettore Marinelli – From precocious talent to Master Craftsmen

Emerging young artist of the Marinelli family, Ettore shared his work with us at the Bell Foundry this summer   The tradition of metalworking in Molise goes began three thousand years, when the Samnite tribe, once Rome’s fiercest rivals, were casting statues for...

La ‘ndocciata, Agnone’s most famous event

La 'ndocciata 2018On the 8th of December I finally saw l‘ndocciata, Angone’s most famous annual event. Believe it or not, I’d never witnessed it. High time then…It’s the biggest ‘festival of fire’ in the world, ‘una scia di fuoco’, and allegedly the oldest – though...

Immerse yourself in Italy

Let's discuss what works best for you...
EnquirePrices

La Madonna di Loreto

La Madonna di Loreto

La Madonna di Loreto

 

Read my guest blog post about this tri-annual festival in the extraordinary town of Capracotta - featured by the National Italian American Foundation.

Explore more posts:

Recipe: Pizza e minestra from La Piana dei Mulini in Molise

Pizza e minestra, or Pizza di granturco is a typical Molisana dish and a perfect example of la cucina povera. With ancient origins, it’s basically a vegetable soup with softened cornbread. In Molise, corn ‘pizza’ has always been the daily bread of the poor. Laura...

Our ONLINE WORKSHOPS are zooming ahead

April and May Zoom Workshops have been a terrific success – the teachers were so impressed with YOUR participation, and I know from you, you’ve been impressed with THEIRS! SO – WE CONTINUE ... The new round of workshops now open for booking:   30 MAY – 20 JUNE    ...

ONLINE WORKSHOPS to complement your Italian Learning

The current lockdown is testing for everyone, but we’re also managing to find some silver linings. One of them, for me, is more time to study Italian. I am working with our wonderful teachers to put together a series of workshops, and the first one is about to...

A poem in Italian inspired by Maria Alice’s visit to Agnone, September 2019

Maria Alice joined us from the US and fell in love with Agnone, as so many have done!  She wrote this poem first in English and then worked on putting it into Italian.  This final version came to be with the kind help of Maria Alice’s teachers: Anna in Pennsylvania...

An introduction to the pre-Roman Samnites of Molise

Agnone, Pietrabbondante and the Sammnites - A territory rich in history. One of the names given to the ancient town of Agnone is “L’Atene del Sannio”, Athens of Sannium. Athens - because of Agnone’s rich cultural heritage, and Sannium - because Agnone is located in...

Live & Learn Italian Language Holidays – A taste of the 2 Week Programme

  Saturday, June 15-29, 2019 Our drivers Fernando and Donatella brought guests to Agnone in 2 batches - from Canada, Australia, the US and UK. Sunday, we went out to Marco’s, to hear about his honey and wine production. The pollen is extracted from wild fruits...

Guest Review of Live & Learn Italian by Joy Nash – Italian language vacations

Reflections on Summer 2018 The Live and Learn Italian immersion ‘experience’ was created completely organically, and continues to grow organically. Each year I discover new local characters and regional opportunities, and so the programme develops. It’s a language and...

Guest Review of Live and Learn Italian by Jenny Matthew, and her travels in Italia

  I'm delighted to share a wonderfully written guest review of Live and Learn Italian this month, resplendent with added tales from further Italian exploration by Jenny Matthew. Many guests find incorporating 2 weeks with us in Agnone as a great way to hone...

Ettore Marinelli – From precocious talent to Master Craftsmen

Emerging young artist of the Marinelli family, Ettore shared his work with us at the Bell Foundry this summer   The tradition of metalworking in Molise goes began three thousand years, when the Samnite tribe, once Rome’s fiercest rivals, were casting statues for...

La ‘ndocciata, Agnone’s most famous event

La 'ndocciata 2018On the 8th of December I finally saw l‘ndocciata, Angone’s most famous annual event. Believe it or not, I’d never witnessed it. High time then…It’s the biggest ‘festival of fire’ in the world, ‘una scia di fuoco’, and allegedly the oldest – though...

Immerse yourself in Italy!

Book your experience now
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For more details about how the trips can suit your needs, please email me at:

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