An aura of history permeates the ancient land of the Samnites, named Beneventum by the Romans, who first colonized it.
It is a Province filled with history, archaeological sites and marvelous landscapes, and it surprises for its atmosphere of composed mysticism that has always characterized it. Entering it is akin to blurring the confines of present and past, and means discovering the folkloric and gastronomic traditions that root themselves in distant history.
The Province of Benevento, with its silence and sensations that only a pristine environment could offer, is the ideal destination to spend a relaxing vacation along charming itineraries, in discovery of a slower-paced world, far-removed from the frenzy of the cities.
It is a journey to discover the now-forgotten world of the Samnites, the Romans and the Longobards that, in a distant past, inhabited the same mountains, woods, pastures, springs and lakes that meet the visitor’s eye.
These are places of pure beauty, impossible to forget, that mark one’s heart and mind with their most concealed yet truest secret - that of the farming and pastoral culture still defined by tradition, by this land that has always been cultivated with passion, by artisan knowledge and skills, folk beliefs, and a cultural heritage passed down from generation to generation.
Rows of vines, expanses of olive trees and wheat fields are the tangible signs of the work of man, in an ideal harmony with this unspoiled environment that revels in densely-wooded mountaintops.
This area is notable for its silence, broken only by nature's voice and by traditional village life. These communities narrate their ancient origins, their quotidian customs, their mastery of working raw materials into valued artisan creations, and their passion for their own culture and ways of life.
In addition to its wine country essence, Valle Telesina is one of the most beautiful areas in the Province. In the natural setting of the Fonti del Grassano (the Grassano Springs at the foot of Monte Pugliano), clear, cold water flows among willows, poplars and thick reed beds, creating the perfect breeding habitat for many species of waterfowl
In the 1300s, an earthquake in Telese Terme brought sulphur springs with healing properties to the surface, and are still used in the modern thermal spa park, specialized in treatments for children.
Just a short distance away is the archaeological site of Telesia, with the remains of Roman-era city walls, streets and thermal baths. On the other side of the valley is the Taburno-Camposauro Regional Park, also known as "the Sleeper of the Sannio," given the mountains' outline that evokes the image of a woman lying down.
Pietrelcina is a small village that owes its fame to Padre Pio, who spent his childhood here. Today it is one of Italy’s main pilgrimage destinations, with its many places linked to the life of the saint.
Benevento is a crossroads of ancient and modern, of tradition and progress. Several signs of ancient civilizations can be found throughout the city streets. Trajan’s Arch is one of the better-preserved triumphal arches, with beautiful bas-reliefs on both façades. The Roman Theatre and the Leproso Bridge, under which flows the Sabato River, still evoke the times of the ancient Beneventum. Among the churches, noteworthy are the Romanesque Duomo, the Madonna delle Grazie Basilica and the Basilica of San Bartolomeo. The Sannio Museum exhibits a collection of archaeological remains from the area.
The Camposauro Adventure Park challenges the entire family along a series of trails that require the aid of ropes, pulleys, bridges and ladders; it is an alternative way to have fun and to test one’s abilities.
A guided tour of Montepugliano’s sinkholes, an interesting example of karst topography, offers the opportunity to explore the local geology.
Very interesting, also from an archaeological standpoint, is the climb to Monte Acero, whose summit was once surrounded by a massive wall; part of it still stands.
Birdwatching enthusiasts will enjoy observing the abundant avifauna of the Montagna di Sopra Reserve, where they will be able to catch sight of buzzards, sparrowhawks, goshawks, ravens, peregrine falcons and eagle owls.
Many festivals and celebrations in the area recall ancient times.
One of the main events is the Grape Fest, now in its 23rd edition. Characteristic are the floats that parade the charming streets of Solopaca; they are made with grapes that are carefully selected by the master carraioli (cart-makers) for size and color.
Prose, music, films, exhibits and encounters with characters, actors and authors constitute the busy schedule of the "Benevento Citta’ Spettacolo" theatre festival, enlivening the city's cultural scene since 1980.
The ingredients of Sannio gastronomy have been the same for centuries: extra-virgin olive oil, fresh handmade pasta, beef, sheep and pork, cheese, honey, fruit, walnuts and chestnuts.
Food once defined as poor because of its peasant origins most certainly does not lack of flavor and, in fact, is rich and intense.
From pasta with mutton sauce, soup, the local eggs, cheese and sausage pie to thistle soup, grilled meat, stuffed mushrooms, vegetables in oil, biscuits and maize bread, the options are endless and adapted to every palate.
Among the best examples of the local products, the cheese is extraordinary, as is the Extra-Virgin Olive Oil and the famous torrone; it was produced even by the Romans, and was considered the typical Samnite dessert.
Such delicacies call for great wines, and on these terms the Sannio area is second to none: Solopaca, Aglianico del Taburno, Falanghina, Beneventano and Dugenta are names of local DOC and IGT ferments.
One last typical delicacy from Benevento is the Strega digestif, famous worldwide for its bright yellow color and unique flavor.