The Upper Casertano area, which includes 48 municipalities of the province of Caserta, and borders with the province of Benevento and with the Lazio region, is characterized by a very strong territorial identity, bolstered by human and economic resources capable of sustaining a development path whose main objective is the promotion and integration of the area. The Upper Casertano area is not very well known, but it has great resources and potentiality and, in recent years, has been the subject of considerable investments in the tourism and enogastronomic sectors. The start of small businesses, the promotion of local productions, and the rediscovery of ancient crafts represent only some of the stages in the process of growth towards making Upper Casertano a quality tourist destination. This area includes two Regional Parks, one Nature Reserve, several Special Protection Areas and many Sites of Community Importance.
This area is located mostly inland of the province of Caserta, and lacks in infrastructure, especially as regards transport, social and health services, education, etc. It must be pointed out, however, that although the morphological structure of these places has represented a constraint to development, at the same time it has precluded the degradation and contamination of the area. The preservation of the environmental conditions of this area is therefore an opportunity for Upper Casertano, which is considered "the garden of the province of Caserta".
Fortified villages and ancient convents, Samnite settlements and Roman towns, medieval castles and green woods make of Upper Casertano one of the most sought-after destinations for cultural, nature and enogastronomic tourism in Campania. It is a land of ancient traditions and a paradise for hiking and extreme sports fans. An area of strong rural traditions, where a variety of extraordinary flavours and fragrances can found in the thousand secrets of local gastronomy and in the local food productions, which tell the story of an area whose historical and artistic heritage is just as rich.
Most of the municipalities of the area are small: only 6 of them have more than 5,000 inhabitants. They are mostly small mountain towns, whose main sources of income continue to be agriculture and pastoralism. People are leaving the small towns: only the elderly are left, while the young move to larger towns in search of new job and training opportunities. At the same time, young people are deeply interested in issues relating to their own land, particularly in the rediscovery of their historical, cultural and production roots.
Upper Casertano, set between Campania and Molise, is charting a course towards new horizons of development, by combining its infinite historical and artistic resources with the variety of its landscape, and reaffirming the ancient bond between the countryside and its people. The heritage of rural tradition is closely linked to local culture and its expressions. It is a link that needs to be constantly strengthened, reaffirmed, and lived to make of the countryside a space on a human scale, which combines the economic needs of a country that wants to grow with the capacity to improve quality of life for all, and the promotion of rural heritage with respect for the natural wonders of the area.
A journey through the villages of Upper Casertano evokes a wealth of emotions that take you back in time: massive walls, medieval fortresses, ancient palaces, churches and convents, small historical towns where time seems to have stood still. In the ancient centres that have survived practically intact to our days, it is possible to trace the culture and architectural styles of different historical eras in the columns, inscriptions and memorial stones incorporated in the buildings.
Upper Casertano is a land of ancient fortifications, of villages steeped in history, of towns enclosed within centuries-old walls and reinforced with towers and bastions; among them, the Rocca d'Evandro castle, perched on a mountain and refuge of the monks of Montecassino fleeing from the invasion of the Kingdom of Naples by Charles V, fascinates visitors with its inaccessible position. Pietravairano, whose origins are not certain, was inhabited by the Samnites, as shown by some settlements found on Mount Caievola and on Mount Nicola, and later by the Romans. It was in Vairano Patenora's territory that the Unification of Italy was sanctioned by the historical meeting between Garibaldi and King Vittorio Emanuele II. Sant'Angelo d'Alife, together with Raviscanina, was born from the ancient Rufrium, a town built on the land of the Pentri Samnites. Piedimonte Matese and Alife, beautifully framed by the Matese mountains, have a spectacular geographical location, as do Gioia Sannitica and Potito Sannitico, which retain traces of the Michaelic cult in their rock caves, as well as the remains of Roman settlements.
Points of interest
Regional Parks, WWF Reserves and Protected Areas, woods, rivers, lakes, wonderful views, flora and fauna of rare beauty, a varied landscape, flavours and traditions accompany tourists and visitors in what is the authentic "natural garden" of the historical Terra di Lavoro region. The Matese and Roccamonfina Foce del Garigliano Natural Regional Parks are real gems from the environmental point of view, with dozens of small villages to discover, from Gioia Sannitica to Conca della Campania, from Letino (the small village located at the highest altitude in the province of Caserta) to Mignano Monte Lungo, and the ideal place for the preservation of memory, the revitalization of the local economy and tourism and the development of quality agricultural activities.
Woods, rivers, a varied landscape, flavours and traditions accompany tourists and visitors in what is the authentic "natural garden" of the historical Terra di Lavoro region. The Matese and Roccamonfina Foce del Garigliano Natural Regional Parks are real gems from the environmental point of view, with dozens of small villages to discover, from Gioia Sannitica to Conca della Campania. Among the recommended routes are those crossing the municipalities of Vulcano di Roccamonfina, Conca della Campania, Caianello, Galluccio, Marzano Appio, Tora e Piccilli, Roccamonfina, Sessa Aurunca and Teano, among wonderful centuries-old chestnut woods, churches and sanctuaries, wide views, castles and water springs. The "green volcano" of Campania is characterized by a number of external cones, many still well preserved, and is renowned as a "natural laboratory" of some of the most famous Italian mineral waters.
In the valley of the Volturno river, the result of ancient changes and events that are lost in time, rise delightful and pleasant medieval villages, such as Ailano, with its characteristic narrow streets and high steps.
In the Matese area, a land of strong contrasts where cultivate countryside and wild nature blend into each other, picturesque villages and immense and fascinating woods alternate among valleys and hills; places to visit include Capriati, Volturno, a village located in the extreme corner of the Campania Matese region, and Fontegreca, a small and pretty town, famous for its olive groves and vineyards and for a rare species of cypress. And then again, there are the villages of Valle Agricola, known for its healthy air and the beauty of its landscape, and Castello del Matese and Gallo, set in rugged mountains and green plateaus, with pastures still used by shepherds, and picturesque medieval towers.
Local products and enogastronomic culture
A long, pleasant and surprising "journey of taste": the Upper Casertano area offers many possible food and wine tours. Visiting oil mills in the autumn is one of the best ways for visitors to get to know the places and flavours of this area. The oil route follows a very long and spectacular stretch of land that, among chestnut woods and olive groves, overlooks the valley of Garigliano and the sea from Formia to Gaeta. Upper Casertano is also the land of quality deli meats, sausages and dry cured hams, a vocation that has been further revitalized and promoted recently with the reintroduction of the black Casertano pig, a native species that was an endangered until a few years ago. The excellent local wines are made from native grape varieties such as Aglianico, Falanghina and Pallagrello. The chestnuts from the volcano of Roccamonfina are used to produce some true delicacies, such as: roast chestnuts, jams, castagnaccio in jars, liqueurs and chestnuts in syrup. A rarity from the Upper Casertano region are the "peschiole" (dwarf peaches) of Vairano Patenora, peaches picked when they are still green. In addition, we cannot forget to mention the caciocavallo and cheeses of the Matese area, the onions of Alife, the potatoes of Letino, the lentils of Valle Agricola, the asparagus of San Pietro, the truffles of the Matese area and the honey of Galluccio, Alife and Teano.
Among the cheeses of the Upper Casertano area the "conciato romano" and the "caso peruto", a local speciality in the area of the volcano of Roccamonfina and of Ruviano, whose production is unfortunately dying out because of people abandoning these activities, resulting in a continuous decrease in production.
Lag Upper Casertano: firstname.lastname@example.org