Italy – A Never-ending Journey of Discovery

The curious traveller will find a rich history of culture, cuisine and tradition stretching back centuries in Italian towns big or small. Peter Morrell reports.

I recently met the representatives from three towns who are participants in the EU sponsored Eden Project, European Destinations of Excellence. These towns are not on the well trodden Italian tourist routes but what you will find in them are attractions and traditions which are unique and interesting.

Here is a summary of what you can expect in each destination.

Agnone

Agnone in the Molise Region offers rugged scenery in the Appennine Mountain range. One of the largest traditional crafts in the town is bell making and the Marinelli Bell foundry dates back 1000 years and has made many bells for the Vatican. Visit the on-site museum for a fascinating insight into the history of bell making there.

Christmas Eve sees one of the biggest events in the Agnone calendar, the Agnonese Carnival. The highlight is the Ndocciata, a spectacular parade of people carrying hundreds of blazing torches.

In mid August the Fiera delle Arti e Mestieri Antichi (Arts and Antique Crafts Fair) is held featuring the works of many local artisans.

The local delicacy is Caciocavallo meaning cheese on horseback, the cheeses are hung in pairs over wooden supports to mature, hence the name.

Nearest airport is Pescara served by Ryanair

Corinaldo

Corinaldo in the Le Marche region it is a medieval town in the hills and is noted for its well-preserved 14th-century walls, it is possible to walk around these kilometre long fortifications.

The town is the birthplace of St Maria Goretti, stabbed to death at the age of 11 in a sexual attack in 1902, she was canonised in 1950 and is the patron saint of rape victims. Her house has been preserved as a monument.

Located on the 109 ascending steps that run through the town is a well. It was the water from this together with smuggled maize flour that saved the towns people when the town was besieged. Every year the Polenta festival is held to celebrate this historic salvation.

La Festa delle Streghe , the popular Halloween festival is held every October when the streets are packed with revellers.

The other big event in the town is the famous Jazz festival, held in August, it attracts performers from all over the world.

About a 20 kilometre drive from the town are the Frasassi Caves which have remarkable stalactite and stalagmite formations.

Nearest airport is Ancona served by Ryanair

Sermoneta

Sermoneta is in the Lazio Region and situated close to Rome. It is a walled hill town, with a 13th-century Romanesque cathedral, St. Maria Assunta. The town is dominated by the Caetani Castle famous for its dramatic painted rooms.

The town was owned by the Caetani family for centuries but for a brief period was home to the Borgias, including the notorious Lucrezia. Followers of the Borgias TV series will find the town fascinating, in fact more than 80 films have been made there because of its unspoilt nature and atmospheric feel.

The still preserved and architecturally interesting15th market was the focal point for a thriving Jewish community.

The town is about 70 kilometres from Rome and can be reached through the international airport served by many airlines or via Ciampino airport with Ryanair

 

As this is Italy it goes without saying that all the towns offer excellent speciality foods and good quality local wines in the many restaurants

For more information about the towns and visiting Italy go to www.italia.it/en/home.html

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