My trip to Agristurismo Monte Maggiore in Formicola, Italy, was just the kind of off-the-beaten-path travel experience I'd hoped to find. For starters, this very tucked-away restaurant was fantastic, both in terms of service and food. Our hostess, Magdelena (also the owner), was extremely charming and never gave up trying to communicate with us despite our language differences. Each dish she served, cooked by her chef/son, was unique, delicious and prepared from scratch with farm-to-table ingredients. The restaurant is perched up on a hillside and has an outdoor seating area (that we weren't able to enjoy as the weather was too cool) that offers a beautiful view of Formicola and the surrounding countryside. The 40-minute drive from Caserta to Formicola through the Italian countryside was worth the trip in and of itself; the dinner was the icing on the cake. Formicola, almost completely untrammeled by foreign tourists, is a tiny 11th century village nestled in the mountains, replete with narrow cobblestone streets, beautifully maintained buildings adjacent to wonderfully weathered abandoned homes loaded with old-world charm. I highly recommend the experience.
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