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AT THE FOOT OF MONTE VECCHIO AND ITS CULINARY ART

Villa Santa Maria, a charming town in the Middle Valle del Sangro, stands on the slopes of an imposing rocky ridge. In the historic center there are beautiful buildings and several churches including the Church of San Nicola, in Romanesque style, and the church of the Madonna del Rosario with quadrangular bell tower. The church is located on one of the highest points in the country. At Villa Santa Maria knowing how to cook is a refined art, handed down for generations. A tradition of centuries, since in the 1600s the prince Ferrante Caracciolo established a real professional school to train the court cooks and the great noble families. The extraordinary relationship between the villagers and the gastronomy began with the creation of what would become the famous culinary school. Real dynasties of exquisite Munzù and Maîtres villesi have brought in Italy and in the world their great wisdom and professionalism, as (to name only a few) that of the Stanziani, the Spaventa, the Saccone, the Di Lello, the Caniglia, illustrious ambassadors of a town now universally known as the "homeland of chefs" and of San Francesco Caracciolo, their patron. The task of preserving and handing down knowledge and flavors unique in the world is entrusted to the prestigious Culinary Professional Institute of Villa Santa Maria, and the task of celebrating them at the renowned International Festival of Chefs of the Sangro. Every year, during the second weekend of October, during a religious ceremony in honor of San Francesco Caracciolo, born here, chefs from all over Italy offer the saint the oil that will keep a votive lamp lit for all the year. Delicious dishes are prepared after the festivities, then displayed to be admired and tasted on a very long buffet during the last evening of the party. In Via Roma there is the Museum of the Cooks that collects precious testimonies, documents and acknowledgments on the major and minor characters of these proud dynasties of villesi. Villa Santa Maria is also known for the production of excellent spirits and liqueurs: the villese punch, the bitter villese, the liqueurs with gentian and licorice, as well as the typical Centerbe liqueur. Near the town is the Lake of Bomba.

Practical in: Autumn Winter Spring Summer

Praticabile in: Autunno Inverno Primavera Estate

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