Spirit of Place
Flavours & Knowledge
Where to eat
Where to sleep
At the heart of Alife, in Piazza della Liberazione, there is the pizzeria-trattoria restaurant Civico 69, a number that, according to Armando, “comme avuote e comme ‘o ggire, sempe sissantanove è” (whichever way you look at it and read it, it is always sixty-nine). Opened in 2015 as a result of the culinary passion of three friends – Alfonso and Armando are still there – the restaurant soon became a success in the area. “We focus on local products,” says Danilo De Cristofaro, a chef born and bred in Alife, so he is also zero-mile. And therefore, every day, there are arrivals and deliveries of loads of DOC (designation of controlled origin) buffalo mozzarella from Caseificio Il Casolare, flour from the Mulino Caputo mill in Naples, caciocavallo cheese from Miramonti farm in San Potito Sannitico, San Marzano Gustarosso tomatoes from the Danicoop Cooperative in Sarno, fiordilatte cheese from Caseificio Perrella in Alife, and onions from the Antonietta Melillo farm.
Just outside Capua, there is frenetic activity at La Colombaia, a biodynamic farm with two souls. Joined by an umbilical cord, one is set in the valleys and hills, busy with the sustainable rearing of black pigs and Marche cattle, with Barone, the young bull, watching over the cows; the other, covering 100 hectares, slumbers down on the plains, producing cereals and winter vegetables exported all over the world: lettuces, cabbage, fennel, spinach, maize, chard, strawberries and pumpkins. “Our business began 30 years ago,” says Francesco, “through the inspiration of three siblings, Enrico, my mother Orsola and Pasquale.” Two souls but a single structure. “Our goal is not so much livestock rearing in terms of meat production, but rather the manure produced by animals that eat only our own produce, light years away from chemicals and pesticides.
Sixty hectares of green shimmering with a thousand shades. A corner of England in the Capua countryside. It looks like the home of the Windsors, but instead, tractors and workers are in operation on the farmstead. “Joe Sole,” says Nicola, “has been a multifunctional farm for 30 years. We work on agricultural crops, processing raw materials, running rural tourism activities, and producing electricity using photovoltaic systems. The largest of the latter, 1,000 kW, was installed on the agricultural greenhouses where nectarines are grown. This plant makes the company independent in terms of energy use.
Tenuta Coscia - L'Ape e il Girasole
In Squille, Giuseppe Coscia is the master of the Caserta black pig, an ancient pig that dates back to Roman times. The family farm has been producing excellent cured meats and sausages for five generations, like Uncle Pascale shown in a photo from the 1950s along with Pachiacchione, a fine example of this type of pig. Ham, capocollo, guanciale, bacon, loin, salami and three special sausages are obtained from the Casertana breed pig: ‘a sasiccia, a’pezzente and c’a vufara. Passion, competence, and a love for his land and family traditions represent the values of Giuseppe, the company’s deus ex machina.
Pepe in Grani
In addition to the à la carte menu, the tasting menu is highly recommended: a real experience. For special occasions try Authentica, a table for 8 people in a private room with Franco Pepe who will prepare and explain the pizzas for guests. Prices range from a few euros for traditional pizzas to €100 for person for Authentica.
Bacco e Bivacco
Sara and Marco live in symbiosis with the Matese environment and perfectly cater to the passion felt by those who love outdoor tourism. Hiking on the Matese trails, but above all a reference point for fans of cycling tourism. Here, it is possible to set out to discover the most beautiful routes on both bikes and e-bikes, whether independently or with a guide. And finally, it is the chosen destination for paragliding enthusiasts who make their base here and then go off to discover the skies, walls and currents that make the Matese area a paradise in the air.
Agriturismo Le Fontanelle
Perhaps Hannibal took it easy in the Trebulana valley, but two thousand years later Carmela cannot sit still. The 75-year-old, heart and soul of the rural tourism venue Agriturismo Le Fontanelle, cuts grass, drives the tractor, and heads into the woods in search of wild herbs. “We pick them on uncultivated land, without any chemicals or fertilisers,” says her son Pasquale, “in accordance with our approach, which is genuinely organic.” In summer, Carmela collects nettles and butterburs, in winter wild cardillo (a local herb) and borage. They are used for the potato gateau served in the terracotta pot. This recipe has strong competition from the other house specialities: chicory with chickpea cream, Fontanelle soup with Alife onions, paccheri pasta in Casavecchia wine with black pork sauce. This rural tourism venue was set up about 20 years ago, but its concept dates back to the 19th-century farmstead run by Domenico Izzo, Pasquale’s great-great-grandfather. Little remains of…
Vino e Biga
Infinite love for pizza and wine. Pizza is a simple thing but it expresses wisdom, balance and joy. Luigi and Marco work with the same dough techniques used for bread (biga or poolish) and a blend of selected flours. They carefully take care of ingredients and combinations with typical Matese products. The menu is divided into Classics, Designed for you and Vegetarian, nothing is left to chance: quality raw materials and care for aesthetics. The pairing with the wines of the territory and of all Campania is interesting.
In the hermitage overlooking the dense woods above Castel Campagnano, amidst olive trees and shady oaks, mother Adele entrusts the flowers of the locust tree to the boiling olive oil. The meal based on vegetables is served on a wooden table, overlooking wild views: sage fritters, pasta and chickpeas with chard and salted anchovy, savoy cabbage rolls in red cabbage leaves, wild broccoli meatballs, stuffed onions. You eat above the vegetable garden where herbs, peas, broad beans, onions, salad, artichokes and wild chicory are grown, in the shade of the old house with its original floor and oven. “When I arrived here 20 years ago in search of a soul place, it was a ruin with trees growing inside”. She was advised to turn it into a Hollywood-style house, but in actual fact it became a kingdom of silence. There is also a cellar built for enigmatic reasons by her dad Carmine, an All Blacks super-fan.
In the 1960s at the farmstead I Cacciagalli, not far from the emanations of the Roccamonfina volcano, grandfather Florestano uprooted native vines in order to plant international grape varieties. The decision was dictated by economics: at that time, the core business was selling grapes. When his granddaughter Diana, an agronomist, took over the family business 20 years ago, she decided to go back to her roots. She uprooted her grandfather’s vines in order to privilege terroir. “We wanted to make a new start from the vines that identify our land. The whites Fiano and Falanghina, and the reds Aglianico, Piedirosso and Pallagrello Nero.”
Welcome to Conciato Romano paradise, where the Lombardi family stands in for Saint Peter. Conciato is an extreme cheese and at 2,500 years old, it is also one of the world’s oldest; a raw milk pecorino characterised by a tanning process in terracotta amphorae with chilli, dried wild thyme (nepitella), EVO oil made with Caiazzane and Leccino olives and Casavecchia wine. The cheese is refined in the amphora for between six months and two years. As Manuel says, it is a domineering surly, presumptuous character with a hard head (tiene a’ capa tosta) but it hides unexpected sweetness. It is profound. It is conservative and will not accept any new modifications. Upon contact with the palate, it triggers strong sensations, opens up gustatory pathways and reveals a truly rare wealth of aromas. When grated onto the Franco Pepe Mastunicola pizza as soon as it comes out of the oven, it explodes with an almost balsamic effect. Family hospitality, kindness and direct sales.
The road that leads from Caiazzo to Castel Campagnano is a journey into beauty. This is where the Piccirillo family farm is located. Here, in addition to the legendary Sunday lunches with Zero-cm products, visitors also drink very well. Carmine, passionate grower and maker of Pallagrello and Casavecchia along with his wife Claudia, does the honours; they are Giovanni’s parents, it was Giovanni who transformed the Beati Colli winery into a place of skilful creativity after graduating in oenology in Avellino and specialising at the Institut des Sciences de la Vigne et du Vin in Bordeaux. His degree thesis on “the aptitude of the Pallagrello Bianco grape to become a sparkling wine” would be the inspiration for his work of art: Prima Gioia, the first pure Pallagrello bianco sparkling brut wine, obtained with the classic method and refined for 26 months. It was 2017, the consolidation of a family endeavour and the beginning of a brand-new and talented direction.
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