15 Sep,2018 By Jagabond
Montefusco is the town I keep returning to. In the wide sea of small towns, many are caught, briefly admired then thrown back. For what reason? With many so-called ‘charming’ small towns, the charm can only last so long before running dry.
To keep fresh with charm a town needs to check certain boxes. I developed a method using the FUNNEL algorithm to identify these rare towns that can hold a tourist’s attention for longer than a day trip. I explain further below, and detail why Montefusco meets all necessary criteria. Bottom line, this town is worthy of an overnight.
There’s nothing worse than a small town with a lousy selection of restaurants. The odds aren’t in your favor, as many of these towns have only a handful of dinner options. Luckily, Montefusco has Ristorante San Teodoro. They had the most flavorful Italian food I’ve had in Italy, including Arrabbiata pasta that was actually spicy by American standards. Check out the marinated whitefish below with a big red pepper garnish…amazing!
I was lucky to find an outstanding winery in Montefusco. The owner is part of the Mastroberardino family that boasts the oldest wine business in the Avellino region. He split off on his own wanting a smaller and more personal feel, and named the winery Terradora Di Paolo after his wife. They have the standard wines of Irpinia – Greco, Fiano and Taurasi – all of very high quality. Contact them ahead of time to schedule a tour and tasting.
A town needs something special other than a pretty church. Montefusco has the former Bourbon Prison, located beneath the town hall building. How would you like mosquitoes and other biting insects sewn into your shirt? How about your foot soaked in brine then fed to a hungry goat? This was a place of torture for political prisoners, and few got out alive.
I don’t mean a booming club scene, but at least one place to have a late night drink is essential. Montefusco has exactly one – The Art Café on the main cathedral square. The bartender there claims to make the best Aperol Spritz.
They sometimes even have impromptu live music with a piano open to the public. After copious amounts of white wine the woman pictured below sounded like Elton John.
Nothing kills charm quicker than busloads of tourists with selfie sticks. You won’t see that in Montefusco. Outside of their one annual festival, which every town in the province has, it’s mostly only locals roaming around. Lonely streets and alleys are commonplace here.
Whether it be cute, cobblestone streets, stunning medieval architecture or natural beauty, a town must be pleasing to the eye. Montefusco is blessed to be situated on a hilltop, done for strategic reasons back in times of war. This also means incredible views of the surrounding Irpinia landscape.
Some towns might not have any lodging options, let alone unforgettable ones. Palazzo Ruggiero is an incredible place to stay in Montefusco, right in the main square. You can hear the church bell going off outside your window in the morning. The owner is the nicest man, preparing breakfast by hand based on your preferences. The theme of the hotel appears to be American retro…not something you see often in Europe. My room came equipped with a vintage record player.
Driving is the only option. The roads leading here are rough, which is typical of Avellino towns. It’s only an hour from Naples, and if you stay at Palazzo Ruggiero there is free parking next to the hotel.