Roots In Benevento
As you already know, I'm kind of OBSESSED with Italy and all things Italian. I have only had the opportunity to go twice so far but I plan to continue to return as many times as I possibly can. Other than Rome, I have only visited the Campania Region but this is specifically because this is where my relatives were from. Before my first trip I knew I was going to need some help locating some important addresses while I was there and also wanted to get as much info as possible on my family since many of them stayed in Italy. Thank God for our friend Joe DeSimone who was able to help me with this! He is an American Genealogist living in Italy and was able to help me gather all of the info I needed (his contact info is below). Since my first trip there was to celebrate my 30th, Steve and I stayed in Positano on the Amalfi Coast (See previous travel post) and were able take day trips to visit where my family members were from.
One of the towns I knew I needed to visit was Benevento. Benevento is a small city located 30 miles outside of Naples and is where my Great Grandmother (Anna Cantone) was from. It is kind of a neat little town and is known as the "City of Witches". When Steve first heard this he joked "Your family is from the City of Witches? Well that explains a lot..." Hahaha! There are many legends about this which explain why it is called that and there is even a very popular childrens book series called "The Witches of Benevento". There is an old Italian legend that all these witches would basically dance around a Walnut Tree naked and do a bunch of crazy witch stuff and would put curses on people. There is a lot more to it so if you're interested you can find out more info about it HERE. It's really fun because every year for Halloween I always theme my decorations around little Italian witches. It's so fun! But don't worry ya'll...I love me some Jesus! Okay?
Benevento is also where a popular liqueur La Strega is from. Just in case you didn't know, the word Strega means witch in Italian. Kind of crazy right? It's a very interesting drink and is a combination of so many herbs and spices that it is often referred to as a witch's brew. When I first discovered all of this it made me even more intrigued and excited to visit this town as I had always heard my Nonni was kind of crazy and overly superstitious. La Strega was also her drink of choice every night. While we were there, we got to test out some of it and let me tell you...it is STRONG and very spicy. I have tried making some cocktails with it but I have yet to find a recipe that I am in love with. If you have any, please share them with me!
Via Annunziata, 152, 82100 Benevento BN, Italy
After we walked around the town, did some shopping and had some La Strega we got pretty hungry. Luckily we had our friend Giovanni with us and he was able to take us to a restaurant he highly recommended called Ristorante Nunzia. I can't rave enough about this place. It is literally this tiny little restaurant with a cute little Nonna who is the owner, your waitress AND cooks for you also. There are no menus either because each morning she goes to the market and gets her ingredients for whatever she is going to make that day. She is so full of character and makes the experience so unique. I mean, who wouldn't want to have a truly authentic Italian meal from a Nonna?....In Italy? While we were there, Steve was checking his emails during our lunch (pranzo) and she even came over and yelled at him in Italian. True Story. Hahaha! In Italy, you enjoy a meal with each other. You don't rush, you take your time, truly appreciate the food, and enjoy yourself...and maybe two bottles of wine. It's the best! It's the way life should be in my opinion. Now I will say, no one speaks much English if any at all so it was very helpful to have our friends Pasquale and Giovanni with us. (Their contact info will be at the bottom of this post). I am able to speak basic Italian and can get by but it's much more enjoyable to have a local with you.
Once we were finished eating we went to go visit my Nonni's childhood home. Like many parts of Southern Italy, Benevento was bombed during World War II so the church she was Baptized in was gone and many of the buildings around her home were damaged. Although the building was damaged we were still able to find her house and someone still lived in it. The gentleman who lived there was so kind and gracious and told us about the house and how long his family had lived there. He was even kind enough to take a picture off of his wall of their street pre war and allowed us to take it to get copies made. Such a sweet guy! The craziest part of it all was while we were standing there in front of her house with this man...a rainbow all of the sudden came out. It was an incredibly moving experience and made us all pretty emotional. (Sidenote: I was also wearing my Nonni's necklace during all of this. I wear her necklace a lot but always wear it in Italy.) Regardless of what caused the Rainbow, because of where I was and its timing, I choose to believe it was a spiritual experience and will tell that story my grandchildren. PS-please excuse my puffy cry face. It's not cute but oh well.
One thing is for sure, I would have not had this amazing experience without the help of our family's dear friends Pasquale Lauretano, Joe DeSimone and his son Giovanni. Here is their contact info.
Joe DeSimone - Italian Genealogy Pro
+39.333.9364571 or +39.081.825.7020
Pasquale Lauretano - Amalfi Car Service
I hope you enjoyed my sappy family and rainbow story and as always if you have any questions at all, please let me know! I will be posting more fun Italy vacation stories and ideas!