Travel Diary: Molise
Planning for my next vacation is pretty much my raison d’être these days. I’m on a continuous search for new global adventures, and a job that will let me make a living travelling and writing.
(Shout out to anyone willing to pay me for this – my passport is up to date and I’m ready to leave tomorrow! For real. Contact me here.)
My latest adventure included 18 days travelling through Italy and Croatia (or Croatitalia, as I affectionately began to refer to the two countries). We journeyed from Dubrovnik to Zagreb, with a few days in Molise to start, and a few days in Rome to finish.
Blogs are my #1 source for trip planning (travel books and magazines are great, but by the time a restaurant or shop makes it into print, it’s usually either too overrun or too expensive), so for all of you out there who also use the web to source international itineraries, I thought I’d share some highlights from my trip, in case your next voyage is bringing you across the pond. (Also, selfishly, it’s a great way for me to relive my trip, recalling all the fun adventures as I write these posts.)
Let’s start things off in Italia, my favourite place in the world.
I’m half Italian on my mother’s side (which means I come by my love of pasta naturally, and I will never feel comfortable talking without my hands), and a portion of our family still calls the region of Molise home. Specifically, “home” is a tiny town, nestled in the hills, with just over 500 happy residents (as my mom would say, we don’t count the miserable ones).
With only 500 people, the list of attractions and must-sees in this small place may seem somewhat shorter than most, so I’ll keep this brief, but nonetheless, there’s always some type of activity going on.
First we took a walk around town, reacquainting ourselves with the cobblestone streets and patchwork countryside.
We also spent quite a few days cooking up a culinary storm (or, more accurately, watching the local women cook up a culinary storm).
There was the pizza con ciqu’li – essentially pizza dough, with fried pig fat kneaded right into the mixture. It’s then baked in a wood-burning oven to create a crust with bursts of salty flavour.
We chowed down on it at a celebration in nearby Monte Castello, where there was an outdoor mass, a marching band, a town parade, and a beer tent. Pints and prayers in one easy step.
There was also the cavatelli fatto a mano (made by hand), which filled the furnace room, ready for the day’s lunch, and a 3-day long tomato-jarring extravagana, preserving this year’s harvest and making sauce for the next 12 months.
Between the seemingly never-ending feasts, we also found time to walk through the countryside on a visit to my great-grandmother’s farm, stopping to pop fresh blackberries into our mouths along the way (because we hadn’t yet had enough food ;).
Cerrosecco (as it’s known) is no longer a working farm, but nearby, we stopped to say hello to some neighbours and I made a few friends of the four-legged variety.
We also took a few day trips to nearby Termoli, Campobasso, and Vasto (I told you people keep busy here), and then it was time to pack up and head to our next stop. Next up, Dubrovnik!