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A Weekend in the Mountains

A Weekend in the Mountains

WARNING: This post contains mushrooms, mountains, and majestic scenery.

This weekend I had the absolute best part of my study abroad experience to date! On Friday 25 of my fellow classmates and I took off for 2 nights in a small town called Cusano Mutri in the region of Campania. Although we were lured by the prospect of mushrooms, hiking, and s’mores, no amount of information could have prepared us for just how amazing of a trip we were in for.

So many mushrooms!

The main attraction of our adventure was Sagra dei Funghi, a traditional mushroom festival that dates back to when rural areas would thank their pagan gods for the year’s harvest. At every meal we were treated to delicious dishes that incorporated the marvelous funghi that thrives in that particular section of the Matese mountains. Everything was so, SO tasty!

In addition to the mushrooms we were treated to other local specialties including chestnuts (which reminded me of my home in Michigan since we have a couple trees in our backyard), taralli (a type of cookie/cracker), and local wines. Chestnuts and mushrooms could be found in all sorts of variations since they were in season. I particularly liked a pastry that was filled with chestnut creme and the chestnut (or Castagne in italian) and mushroom flavored taralli.

O’ Little Town of Cusano (Not the best view of the town but check out those mountains)

Since we traveled in a smaller group than when we went to the countryside for orientation, we had many more opportunities to speak with native italians that spoke as little english as we spoke italian. Although challenging, such interactions are so valuable and everyone was unbelievably kind to us.

In addition to hanging out at the festival we had the opportunity to take to the hills on some hiking trails. “Hill” is a major understatement considering we climbed a steep peak (used for skiing in the winter time) where it is possible to see both the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic Seas! Although we were unable to see either sea due to some clouds, the weather in no way deterred from the already amazing view! After we hiked back down our guides wanted to share another place of beauty with us even though it wasn’t on the schedule. Climbing back onto the bus we followed them as they lead us in their cars to Lake Matese. I’m still not convinced that this place was real and not a computer desktop or calendar. There were (I kid you not) horses grazing completely untethered and unfenced in front of this lake that was cradled by the surrounding mountains, including the highest points of the Mateses.

Lake Matese

I have never seen such a beautiful landscape as the one I was completely surrounded in all weekend. Breathtaking views were the theme of every moment and every new adventure. I didn’t want to leave Cusano Mutri and I dream of returning one day. There is an olive oil festival in the next town over. Perhaps, (money transportation and convenience allowing) I might be lucky enough to take part in yet another amazing festivity of the mountains! Until I make it back up the winding roads to Cusano Mutri, I’ll  be keeping my fingers crossed!

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