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.

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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.

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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!

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Tumbr Fest

Tumbr Fest

Tumbr fest - Cann’lora and the return of light: secular rites and peasant calendar

 

Tumbr fest takes its name from the old unit used during the reign of the two Sicilies and set off in 1861, following the unity of Italy. The festival was born with the intention of bringing back ancient ways to preserve them from the ‘oblivion to which they are destined’. Uses, customs and traditions are almost completely lost. This winter will be a kind of pill to the summer appendage of the festival.

“With the fire comes the spark of light of humanity and with the cooked food the relief from the need that prevents reasoning. With the temporary armistice of hunger, with the fulfilment of digestion, with the sense of prolonging life comes the story and the story lifting the head to heaven. Man becomes a man with the spark of the story seized in hell.”

From the presentation of Jesus to the temple through the purification of Mary until we arrive at the ancient Pagan tradition of Lupercali, we will try to bring together ancient knowledge and stories in the presence of the fireworks and candles of tradition. Starting from two straw-hammers with a fireplace, which has preserved their burden of minor historical heritage, and gathering people around some fires, in the ancient nucleus around which our little country was born, we will try to fight the monotony of winter and turn on the country for one night. The Colle della Lama with its spiraling roads that circulate in a circular way that extends to the original religious structure of which remains a sketch of the name of a street (Via Chiesa Vecchia) will be the theater of this event, which has the main purpose of breaking the monotony given by the rigors of winter, fighting it with conviviality and culture. February, whose name derives from the Latin February, which means “purifying” since in the Roman calendar in February it was the time of purification rituals, it is not known to be one of the best, with its rigours and snow, and has always been beloved, despite the s party. Antonio Abbot, the entry of the carnival, the killing of the pig. Waiting for better times in the past they spent the days closed in the house to spy, occasionally, the possible “moves” of time. The white reigned as today unconventional and often came out of the windows or passed under white and unspoiled galleries, without the tv in the house to fuel the discomfort in a population hardened by adversity like war and poverty. Candlestick in this falls to the brush, indicating to the grower the predictions of the “v’rnata” and its effective duration, according to which to organize with the new seeds and the remaining stocks. The lunar calendar is among the things we have forgotten along with respect for the nature that the peasant, the big shoe and the brain up, never stopped listening and watching.

How many things have we buried under the ashes? Many, among which many proverbs. So be prepared to suffer a little bit of the bug and pull out the ashes of childhood memories and potatoes, just as grandma did once. We offer culture, music, theatre, poetry, fire, food and wine to fight the impotence that has taken over countries like ours. A country wants it.

Cannellora, chieara aprilə and majjə come é jennearə, if it is solə or sulariélləsò n’andrə 40 juornə də ‘nviérnə.”

***

I attach the poster, characterized by an original monologue divided into two parts (Christianity and Paganism), written for the occasion of the Roman theatre author Valeria Belardelli and interpreted by Manuel D’Amario, Abruzzo actor emerging in the panorama Italian.

The opening debate will be attended by Franco Valente, & include a concert of the folk-rock blues singer Adriano Tarullo, originally from Scanno (AQ). And a reading of Franco Arminio’s “Dreamy Mouse and Other Animals of the Country” by Manuel D’Amario followed by the poetry of Eugenio Cirese and Gustavo Tempesta Petresine.

Then traditional food such as cazzariell and beans and impressive potatoes accompanying a few (a few) potatoes to ash and pizza d grandign cooked to the cup, prepared in the fireplaces of the strawberries made available.

The frame is the charming hill of the Lama, home to the country’s first living nucleus.

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Making wine in Molise

Making wine in Molise

Traditional wine making in Agnone

In October, Agnone opens the door to one of the important traditions of our region. Making wine in Molise dates back to very ancient times and has been handed down from generation to generation through farming methods and peasant traditions as well as for the importance of its cultural and traditional aspects that characterize vintage as an annual event of work and sharing social in the territory.

The social and ritual role that characterizes vintage has been even stronger in recent decades when friends, relatives and neighbours gathered together in the vineyards, all together to work on grapes in the vineyards and then celebrate with a rich banquet.

Today, tradition is still alive, thanks to a few willing, who cultivate this passion with sacrifice and love to their own land.

Work in the vineyard:

It involves many activities: pruning, verderame every week, removing the weeds between the rows and making sure that the various diseases and parasites of the grape do not attack the grapes. Tinned, tinose cassettes the presser and the press must be carefully washed to avoid parasites and moulds that can spoil the must during the fermentation period.

The harvest

In the morning he prepares breakfast and awaits the arrival of friends and relatives who work together to grab the grapes, making breakfast start to the countryside to start work. Once you arrive in the vineyard you download all the necessary tools; cassettes and buckets, ready to be filled with bunches that pickers break away from the trunk of the vine with a net scissor blade or with a blade of a knife.Racing the one is transported to the place where it is transformed, generally in the cellar of the owner of the vineyard.

While transporting the grapes from the vineyard to the cellar, vending machines take advantage of a mid-morning breakfast with various omelettes and cold meats, all washed with fine wine.

The transformation

The traditional methods used for vinification are different, each family uses their own method such as:

Cotto (baking of must)

The baking is obtained by pressing and pressing the grapes:

The Must, which is placed in copper boilers and boiled slowly in direct fire until the 50% reduction in volume. When the baking is completed, the decanted must still be warmed up with the spices of the sprouts and pasted to the press and mixed with raw must.

The Cotto II Method (Cooking the Cucumbers)

The berries  are placed in copper boilers and boiled slowly in direct fire to a 50% reduction in volume. When the baking is completed, the decanted must still be warmed up with the spices of the sprouts and pasted to the press and mixed with raw must. .

The Navellato

The “wine” obtained from this first stage of processing must be placed in a container.

The container must be washed and disinfected.

All must be left to macerate for one to two days in the container-

During this phase, it will be necessary to check the must more than once to check the temperature, but also to carry out the so-called tarnishing , which consists of treating the skin peels on a surface to spread natural dyes in the wine.

The fermentation times vary depending on the final result we want to obtain; for a less alcoholic wine and sweeter we stop the process after 5 or 6 days. For a bitter taste and a higher alcohol content, we continue for at least 20 days. Always proceed with temperature control and grip throughout the period.

I decided the fermentation times, at the end of these we have to start with the ripping. With a sieve, divide the skins from the liquid. Before you throw away the peels’s, make sure torchiarle properly, because they contain still very liquid: we can do it by hand squeezing (less effective) or using a special press.

All the liquid obtained at this point is put to rest in a well-sealed barrel or container. The first transfer to remove the residual pose can be done after about a month, to be done with the help of a siphon (without touching the bottom of the container) and making sure that the wine is not shaken. After another month, a second transfer can be made in the same mode, while the third can be performed even after 15 days from the second.

Dinner

After the transformation of the grapes and after washing for benino, comes the time of the traditional dinner I will expose you the menu of the vintage 2016:

Appetizer : Braised, Suppressed, ham, bacon, rustic sausage.

Plate: Sagne to Tacconi with pork chops

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Caseificio Di Nucci, Agnone: Cheese in the Apennine hills

Caseificio Di Nucci, Agnone: Cheese in the Apennine hills

A visit to Di Nucci

In 1662 Leonardo Di Nucci was a shepherd moving his herds along the traturra. the wide tracks that weave through Abruzzo and Molise down to the plains of Puglia. The Di Nucci family have been making award-winning artisan cheese here in the Apennine hills, in Alto Molise, ever since.

Today, the 11th generation of the family use the same methods and ingredients of their forebears – a whey starter and raw milk, avoiding the use of any preservatives or milk enzymes. Their milk is sourced from carefully chosen local producers resulting in an amazing product in which you can actually taste the grasses and herbs of the seasons. No two cheeses are the same.

Franco Di Nucci took us around the small factory where the hand-made cheese is formed by a dedicated team of craftsmen.

The visit was unforgettable – incredible smells and tastes. Franco is a superb speaker, giving us the family story in slow and very clear Italian and explaining carefully when we got a bit lost. He is passionate about his family history and the rich artisan culture of this region. The love and attention that is poured into his produce is evident.

Caseificio Di Nucci continues to win international recognition, in 2013 gaining the ‘Supergold’ of the World Cheese Awards. Ricotta, Stracciata, scamorza and caciocavallo are the most distinctive cheeses of this region. The Stracciata also won 1st place in the Italian Cheese of the Year Awards 2017. Congratulations!

As a surprise bonus to the visit we discovered that our driver, Fernando, is one of Franco’s valued milk suppliers!

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