Benevento and its province
The city of Benevento and its territory are situated in the internal part of the Campania region. The city lies at one hundred and thirty five metres above sea level on the Guardia hill which reaches the height of one hundred and ninety metres and slopes down to the confluence of the river Sa'bato with the Calore. Its province has a decidedly agricultural physiognomy; most of the territory is mountainous with groups of imposing formations.
Given these features, the cuisine of this area is prevalently of the land; amongst the contributions which the internal areas of the region traditionally confer towards the alimentation of everyone generally, the salamis, sausages and hams are worth a special consideration. An absolutely original speciality is the prosciutto ham from the mountains: it is first flavoured with salt, spices and a generous dose of chilli pepper, then it is smoked and, lastly, put aside for its seasoning. But also the less noble parts of the pig go towards making esteemed products like, for example, the sausage made with lungs, which is a spicy sausage that was at one time widespread in many places of the Neapolitan countryside and which is above all identified with the locality of Apice, a small town on the Sannio hillside between Benevento and Ariano Irpino.
Animal rearing naturally consents the plentiful production of cheeses which, in this area, are eaten and are preferred fresh: caciottina, ricotta and cacioricotta cheeses which are normally consumed as a meal.
Some specialities from Benevento can also be found in the confectionery sector, where torrone (nougat) is a principle product. Its origins are lost in the mists of time, in fact this kind of sweet was mentioned by Marziale, and was very much enjoyed by the Latins. There are many varieties: it is possible to choose between the traditional white torrone, called rosa (pink), another type of white torrone with almonds instead of hazelnuts, the «paradiso» with peeled almonds, the torrone tenero (soft) with chocolate and hazelnuts. The exceptional quality of the hazelnuts and the honey of the region has also favoured the diffusion of the torrone to other localities. But the sweets of the area also hold other interesting offers in store, such as the «croccantini» and the «fichi al cioccolato» (chocolate figs).
At the end of a meal, the Strega liqueur is a real ‘must’. This famous liqueur can, with good reason, be considered to be the alcoholic flag of Benevento, where it was produced for the first time in 1860 by Giuseppe Alberti. It is an infusion of angelica roots and other aromatic herbs, with the addition of saffron. This mixture, kept in alcohol for a certain amount of time, aromatises it, concluding the first phase of its processing. Subsequently, the filtered liqueur is transferred into wooden barrels where it is aged over a long period of time. It is sweet/amabile tasting and delicate, with an alcoholic content of about 45°. For some decades now, the Strega liqueur has crossed the boundaries of this area and is now produced on an industrial scale.