Sannio: a mysterious land with a thousand-year history. The idea of visiting this area of our Italy divided between Campania and Molise has been in our minds for some time. Galeotto was Instagram, which allowed us to get to know and get in touch with Anna Di Sisto, soul of Puglia-Campania&Co, through whom she, who has always worked in the world of tourism, organizes press tours in the area with a focus on Vitulano, a hamlet at the foot of the Dormiente del Sannio made up of the Pentime, Camposauro and Caruso mountains.
In tour with Puglia-Campania&Co
So, without too much effort on our part, we found ourselves on a perfectly organized tour tailored for us, with dogfriendly destinations and tours and in complete harmony with what we have been pursuing in recent times: our #ViaggidiVini. We will talk about the visits to the cellars and the tastings of interesting local fine wines, including Aglianico and Falanghina del Taburno, while here we want to tell about our tour between Vitulano and its surroundings.
Anna, in fact, wanted us to experience what she offers to those who want to discover this inland and mountainous territory, closed by the high peaks of Partenio, Matese and Fortore and crossed by fertile valleys bathed by the Sabato and Calore rivers: a tour through history and stories in contact with those people who are an integral part and voice of these lands.
And already on arrival we appreciated the warm hospitality of Anna and Umberto, when we began to get to know each other over a plate of local cold cuts and cheeses. The headquarters of Puglia-Campania&Co is in fact at the Umberto’s Moriscafè, and we find the brilliant idea of establishing the headquarters of an organization dedicated to tourism in a restaurant, because it not only always goes hand in hand with food and good wine, but it is precisely at the table that the best meetings and agreements are made in Italy.
In reality Anna explained to us that the choice was dictated by the fact that Umberto’s restaurant, with which she shares work and life, is central and known by everyone. In fact, right here we met the mayor, the lawyer Raffaele Scarinzi, who welcomed us to his city.
And at the table Anna told us about herself and this initiative born in Vitulano after her transfer from France to Italy.
Her family is originally from Morcone, the town where San Pio was born, but she was born in Emilia Romagna. And this explains her more Nordic accent than from Campania.
And how did she come to Vitulano? After traveling the world for work as a tour leader, she moved to France where she lived until a few years ago. But the desire to return to Italy has always been strong so when the opportunity arose it came to Puglia: hence the first part of the name.
Vitulano, on the other hand, entered his life and heart when the village was twinned with Belcastel, Anna’s French homeland. In the delegation that went to the small town across the Alps, there was Umberto and… one leads to the other!
After these stories that made us feel welcomed as old friends, we were accompanied to our Nonna Carmela Bed and Breakfast, nestled in the heart of the historic center among the alleys of the ancient Casale San Pietro: an entire welcoming and intimate house that smells family and where everything tells a story.
After we visited Vitulano to get to know the stones, because as Pasquale Spitaletta who accompanied us explained to us, here they speak clinging to the doors of the buildings. And not only. Because we learn that even trees have their say! In fact, among the 21 hamlets that make up the town, numerous maritime pines stand out, which here in the mountains one would not expect and which are used as a sort of sign to indicate the noble houses.
The fans carved in stone on the doorways of many buildings, on the other hand, “tell” that widowed or single women lived there. Also very interesting are the palaces of the Casale dei Fuschi, divided into Fuschi di sopra, where the noble ones stood, and the Fuschi di sotto with the more humble houses.
But the first place we visited with Pasquale in this village nestled on the slopes of the Taburno Massif, between Monte San Michele or Caruso and Monte Pentime, in the heart of the Taburno Camposauro Nature Reserve, is the most important of the 12 churches in the country, the one that rises in the center and is dedicated to the Holy Trinity.
Remained closed for years after the 1980 Irpinia earthquake, this church was robbed of many of its treasures, including the wooden choir and the marble balustrade, while you can still admire in all their beauty the main altar in polychrome marble and the wooden coffered ceiling in the center of which there is a table with the representation of the “Holy Trinity with Madonna and Saints”.
Outside, the bell tower of the Vanvitelli’s school stands out towards the sky, drawing the profile of Vitulano even from a distance.
A true masterpiece is kept in the sacristy of the church of Santa Maria Maggiore: the table by Pompeo Landolfo dated 1596 which depicts a splendid Last Supper, whose restoration carried out a few years ago has enhanced the colors and details of the unprecedented vertical perspective, respect to the usual iconography of the table seen from the front with the apostles side by side.
At the end of the visit we arrived in front of the Royal Fountain, a monumental work commissioned by the Bourbons to collect water from the springs of which Vitulano is rich. It consists of two parts: the real fountain with four spouts and a covered loggia where there are the wash houses.
Pasquale pointed out the coat of arms of the municipality carved in stone: the calf, which is the basis of the etymology of Vitulano.
Speaking of stone, we want to tell you about another of the “treasures” for which the village is famous: the Vitulano marble, extracted from the Uria quarry located on Monte Camposauro, between Vitulano and Cautano.
Used since ancient times, it was much appreciated by the famous architect Luigi Vanvitelli who chose it to embellish the interiors of the Royal Palace of Caserta and which still shines today in the walls of the Royal Staircase and in the Palatine Chapel, but also in the coatings of the spiers of the Kremlin in Russia.
We were able to admire its incredible variety of veins, ranging from gray to red, not only in the church of the Holy Trinity but also in the sculptures that adorn the town, site specific legacy of the Vitulano Marble Sculpture Symposium held every year.
How did our day in Vitulano end? At the table, of course, with a traditional dinner at Moriscafè prepared by Antonio, Umberto’s brother, and his wife Vincenza, accompanied by a tasting of cheeses, including the famous Pecorino Vitulanese, presented by Filomena Scirocco from the Esposito Filippo farm and wines from the Cantina del Tiburno illustrated by Giovanni Esposito which we will talk about shortly.
End of the first part (continued)
In collaborazione con www.puglia-campania.it