I recently watched a play in which the main characters travel through the boot from south to north. When they start their trip, they plan their trip by region and somewhere in the middle they are scratching their heads… well. They should stop in Molise – the Italian region the size of a truffle, sandwiched between Abruzzo, Puglia (Puglia) and Campania. Molise is the area everyone loves to forget. Error.
I’m already in Abruzzo Since I was 4 months old. And no matter how many times I have combed the beautiful hills and valleys, I have never dared to go over the top of the mountain to the nearby – and beautiful – mountain Molise.
So I excitedly joined a group from my alma mater, University of Michigan, to go to Moli’s. First of all to the area in and around the main city Campobaso To explore then a little further, with the guidance of a few experts.
The day started too early Gildon Hunting for truffles with the Italian host family and two dogs, Ziggy and Maybe. And who actually comes to watch the dogs looking for truffles. They smell truffles buried in the ground with their noses – at least Zygi did. Her partner, perhaps, lives up to her name and doesn’t seem to be up to the task. Ziggy picked up the entire show on his own, obviously worried about making a living.
Gildon on top of the hill
Our next stop was on a farmhouse for a traditional 3-hour meal, followed by the obligatory 3-hour nap. We treated ourselves to pasta – with truffles, of course – and a young man sang it on an accordion – which gave hope that these age-old traditions had yet to be replaced by video games.
The next day I went to the beautiful town of Agnon in the province isernia, famous for 26 generations of watchmakers. The workshop began in the Middle Ages, making it the oldest foundry in Italy. Since the 13th century, watches have been made here for every occasion, for emperors, kings, and popes alike. I even discovered one designed for the little one Nicholas Green A tribute to the 7-year-old who was killed in a shooting while on vacation in southern Italy. Its members outlived 7 Others – a courageous charity that has transformed a culture in Italy, where the number of organ donations has tripled in 10 years. Pope John Paul II even greeted his family.
Caption: It takes about 3 months to produce a single church bell, buried in huge pits where molten bronze is poured into the casting, cooled and finally blessed.
Willy Wonka Cheese Factory
After such an amazing journey through an old foundry and museum, it’s time for a tour of Caseificio Nucci, an old cheese factory akin to what Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory would have been if it had been in Italy.
Teams of merry workers, dressed in head-to-toe white, pull a piece of cheese in pairs or extend it around their elbows to resemble glossy white fudge, then make different types of cheese: mozzarellaAnd the Strachatilla (Same as chocolate chip ice cream, but don’t ask me why) and other great areas of pleasure.
The factory is now under the watchful eye of two talented sisters, after generations of Nucci’s de mustache. Casiocavallo I managed. While they still make cheese by hand in the traditional way, it is great to see even deep in the heart of Italy moving against the times with women leading the way!
Caciocavallo — the name that literally means “on the horse” as stirrups are thrown onto a horse, so named for the way it is hung until it’s ripe — was recently awarded the 2022 Italian Cheese Honorary Award.
Kitchen hack: Put the Caciocavallo on a fork and heat it over the flame of your stove, it’s delicious and as close as a mortal can reach Ambrosia – the food of the gods.
If you want to see some truly secluded hill towns and travel through some of Italy’s most beautiful natural regions, without the tourists, Molise offers an abundance of sights and flavors to enjoy. Keep in mind with every meal that there’s another dessert you can’t miss.