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On the beautiful Adriatic coastline shared by Molise, Abruzzo and Puglia, lies the  “La costa dei Trabucchi’: here large wooden platforms rooted to the rocks jut out into the sea. The arms of the trabucco or trabocco hold a narrow fishing net, il traboccetto.  A complicated series of winches is used to lower and raise the net, literally catching the fish as they swim over it. Today some of the winches work electronically, others still turned by the efforts of at least 2 trabuccolanti. Some of these old constructions have been restored into restaurants where fish is cooked literally before your eyes, minutes after being caught.



A bridge of wooden boards allows the fisherman to get out to the platform to haul their catch. Aleppo pine which grows abundantly in the Mediterranean region, extending as far as Morocco, Greece and Turkey, is used to create these solid structures. Not only very abundant, it is tough, weather-poof and resistant to salt.  The earliest documented evidence of trabocchi is from the 18th century when Gargano fishermen devised this ingenious method of fishing without having to subject themselves to precarious weather conditions during the harshest months. At that time, up to 100 kilos of fish could be caught in one trabocco daily.

I first discovered the existence of these beautiful structures a few summers ago on a drive up the coast from Vasto to Giulianova to visit friends. They look like giant spiders sprawled out into the shimmering sea. Since then it has been a plan of mine to visit one of these family restaurants for Sunday lunch to sample the fresh, regional dish of brodetto alla Vastese.



One of Live and Learn Italian’s new events this summer will be a visit to the centro storico at Vasto and out to a trabocco for lunch. 

by Jenifer @ liveandlearnitalian.com

Click here and watch the video: Agnone, off the beaten track

Courses are booking up in Agnone, so do visit the website for dates. Beginners classes are proving popular this summer, intermediates continue to grow strong.

Practice, refresh and learn Italian @ liveandlearnitalian.com

 Discover the traditions of a historic town in Molise, and get to know the locals. Learn Italian where no one speaks English.


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No visit to Agnone is complete without seeing the ancient Sannite ruins at Pietrabbondante, only a short drive away.  We went on a spectacular Sunday evening and had the place to ourselves. The historians of our group were amazed to hear about this tribe, considered to be the original Italians.

An Italici tribe, these powerful warriors were an Oscan speaking people, who fought a series of wars against the Romans, winning spectacular victories in the first 2, the most famous being the battle of Caudine Forks (321 B.C.) but being finally subjugated in the 3rd, the Battle of Colline Gate in 82 B.C.

Oscan is an extinct Indo-European language of southern Italy. The language is also the namesake of the language group to which it belonged. As a member and origin of the Italic languages, Oscan is therefore a sister language to Latin and Umbrian.

In 1848 in the hills outside Agnone, a bronze tablet was found by a shepherd and sold to the D’Onforio family. 20 years later, this “Tavola dei Dei” was sold to a dealer in Rome who  sold it to the British Museum in London, where it is today.

Dated from around 500 B.C., the tablet enabled scholars to discover more about Sannite gods and rituals, many of their pagan beliefs are echoed in the deep religious traditions of the local contadini today, important dates and festivals, and attributes of the gods are similar to the Saints honoured today.



Incredibly, some of the words on the tablet are similar to words in the Agnonese dialetto. The study of the tablet enabled scholars to learn to read the Oscan language and to explore their history, and the origins of Italian language and culture.

When the original was sold to the Roman dealer, a copy of this bronze tablet was made and kept by the D’Onofrio family.

But, in 2013, some old files were unearthed in the Naples’ museum leading scholars to question whether the British Museum tablet really is the original . Tests are being carried out on the D’Onofrio tablet, although it seems the British Museum are not forthcoming with an analysis of theirs. Agnone waits to hear.

In August in the Palazzo Bonanni in Agnone, a beautiful and very comprehensive exhibition opened: La Tavola dei Dei. This is hoped to be the beginning of a permanent museum in Agnone. On display is the D’Onofrio Tablet. Is it the real Tavola Osca?

Visit the website and see more about our visits and learning Italian off the beaten track..

 by Jenifer@ liveandlearnitalian.com

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Where no one speaks English

Easter in Agnone with Jenifer: get an idea of the programme



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In 1662 Leonardo Di Nucci was a shepherd moving his herds along the tratturi. the wide tracks that weave through Abruzzo and Molise down to the plains of Puglia. The Di Nucci family have been making award winning artisan cheese here in the Apennine hills, in Alto Molise, ever since.

Today, the 11th generation of the family use the same methods and ingredients of their forebears – a whey starter and raw milk, avoiding the use of any preservatives or milk enzymes. Their milk is sourced from carefully chosen local producers resulting in an amazing product in which you can actually taste the grasses and herbs of the seasons. No two cheeses are the same.



Franco Di Nucci took us around the small factory where the hand-made cheese is formed by a dedicated team of craftsmen.The visit was unforgettable – incredible smells and tastes. Franco is a superb speaker, giving us the family story in slow and very clear Italian and explaining carefully to our students when they got a bit lost. He is passionate about his family history and the rich artisan culture of this region. The love and attention that is poured into his produce is evident.



Caseificio Di Nucci continues to win international recognition, in 2013 gaining the ‘Supergold’ of the World Cheese Awards. Ricotta, stracciata, scamorza and caciocavallo are the most distinctive cheeses of this region.

As a surprise bonus to the visit we discovered that our driver, Fernando, is one of Franco’s valued milk suppliers!

That night we ate Di Nucci’s scamorza arrostita, using scamorza made from the same pasta as the caciocavallo. It was delizioso!

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Summer 2016 will be booking from September, by Jenifer@ liveandlearnitalian.com

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It so happens that the 2 oldest continuously family-owned firms in the world are Japanese – One constructing shrines and holy buildings since 578, and the other, inn-keeping since 718.

And the 3rd oldest continuously family-owned business in the world is in Molise, Italy – in the small town of Agnone where my grandfather’s cousins have been making bells since the year 1000.



La Fonderia Pontificia Marinelli is the oldest bell foundry in the world and continues today to use the original ‘lost wax’ technique of its founders. Artisans first imprint a wax form of the design onto a brick structure covered in clay, which is then overlaid with a second layer of clay to form a ‘false bell’.  When the wax inside is melted, it leaves the design imprint on the inside of the ‘false bell’. Still today, using an ancient wood-burning furnace, the molten bronze is heated to a temperature of 1200c (2200f) and poured into the space between to form the bell.

Study Italian in Italy:Agnone



Depending on the size of the bell, the process can take up to 10 months and is done entirely by hand. The work takes enormous strength, courage and concentration as any false move can ruin the process. As the pouring takes place, a local priest blesses the bronze and the workers pray. As the bell begins to cool, good wishes are exchanged.

1924     Pope Pius XI grants Papal status to the foundry – hence, its official name is       Pontificia Fonderia Marinelli

1954     Italian President honours Marinelli Family with gold medal for their prestigious     work and status as the oldest family business in Italy

Some of the famous bells created at the Marinelli Foundry:

1923     Pompeii –restoration of the Mariano Sanctuary

1950     Monte Cassino – reconstruction of the Church of San Benedetto, destroyed during the     battle of Monte Cassino in WWII

1961     Rome – commemoration of 100th anniversary of the founding of Italy

1992     Washington DC – to commemorate 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s discovery of America

1995     NYC United Nations Building

2000     Rome – Jubilee Bell for St Peter’s Square, inaugurated by John Paul II



2004     Pisa – Leaning Tower, a 600k replica of the 17th century bell damaged in the bombing       of 1944



the Marinelli Bell in Pisa


Take a look at the foundry …

Agnone is a simple and modest place, its inhabitants are fiercely proud of their heritage and the traditions of their ancestors.







the Marinelli brothers today, Armando and Pasquale

LIVE AND LEARN ITALIAN invites you to combine study with exploring the traditions and everyday life of the region, mixing with the community and engaging in local activities. Of course, a visit to the Foundry is high on the list of special events.

Few places left for this summer! Book your Italian course in Agnone, Molise

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The last undiscovered region of Italy: Molise

Italian courses in Italy:few places left for  this summer, join Jenifer in June and July 2015, live and learn Italian,off the beaten track 

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Winter in Agnone 

This year the famous winter festival of the ‘Ndocciata was dedicated to San Giovanni Paolo II.

This festival originated during Molise’s pre-christian Samnite era and is specific to the town of Agnone.

The torches, or ‘ndocce’ were used during tribal shifts that usually took place at night, as s source of light.agnone

 After the 9th Century, local farmers began to take up the tradition, using these torches to illuminate their paths from the countryside to the many churches in the town of Agnone on Christmas night. Later a Nativity would be staged, after which the burning torches were thrown on a bonfire to symbolise renewal for the year to come. 


The enormous ‘ndocce, 3 to 4 meters high, are torches made of silver pine, indigenous to the region, with bundles of dried broom held together by twine.

Joined by horizontal poles, they form groups that can reach up to 20 torches arranged in a fanlike shape. The torches begin to be prepared as early as August for the 24th of December event –  it is a lengthy process.

The men carrying these large and heavy structures are dressed in black cloaks with either black hats or hoods, derived from the ancient garments of the Oscan Samnite tribe.

Take a look at the Telemolise video of this year’s event:


by Jenifer, liveandlearnitalian.com

Join Jenifer in July 2015, live and learn Italian,off the beaten track

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