For Jay and the rest of you who like off-the-beaten-path places, I recommend Benevento! Ironic that now it's off the path, two thousand years ago it WAS the path: Benevento became the place where the via Appia cut two days' journey from the older road between Roma and Brindisi.
My father was born in a very small town near here, and Benevento was the big city. What history! The Samnites were conquered by Rome, Pyrrhus was defeated here by Rome in 275 BCE and the Romans gratefully changed the city's name from Maleventum (ill wind) to Beneventum (good wind). Benevento gets a healthy blowing breeze fairly constantly, which takes the edge off the heat (some days). Trajan erected an arch here (still the best-preserved in Italy, perhaps in the world), and relics from a temple to Isis were found nearby. The original Egyptian pieces are in the ARCOS Museum, the lower floor of the Palazzo del Governo. There is a well-preserved Roman theatre that seated 15,000 at the lower end of the city, in what became the medieval quarter.
The Longobards stopped by next, built several interesting structures. The small, hexagonal church of Santa Sofia still has original columns. There is a Museum of the Samnites in the complex through the cloister.
The Duomo complex is quite large but has been destroyed by earthquakes throughout history and Allied bombing in WWII, but the rebuilt structure retains the simplicity of the early Christian church, as well as some preserved architectural elements. Really a walk through history.
There is also a small botanical garden near the medieval quarter. And, lots of benches line the Corso Garibaldi when you need a rest! You could see everything in one day. Caffes line the main streets, restaurants are on side streets and cul de sacs. As was my B&B, Le Streghe. Some interesting facts about lodging: each municipality apparently decides what constitutes a B&B. In Benevento, the maximum number of rooms is three, so a B&B is considered an augmentation of income within a family household. (source: my B&B owner.) Price for a beautifully renovated room with breakfast was €50. Mamma comes in with baked goods (some delicious homemade ones, too) at about 8:15 and if you want breakfast after 9, it is do-it-yourself, because Mamma has a full-time job at City Hall. The fridge is well-stocked for Italian-style breakfast, so no problem if you can figure out the coffeemaker. I couldn't, so I was really happy to see her on the second morning.
That morning I met a couple on holiday from Torino, which I will get to in about three weeks. The couple and I had a lovely chat with Mamma and realized we were on the same train the next day, so decided to reserve a taxi. At breakfast the day of departure, the third guest rushed downstairs, said hello and goodbye, and left with his luggage. Turned out he was on the same train, too - we saw him again at the station. What are the odds? The couple would not let me pay for the taxi, which was very sweet of them.
Side note: a lot of B&B hosts have picked me up/dropped me off at the train station. Might have something to do with traveling solo, since Smart cars and B&B hosts seem to go together. A Smart car only has two seats; Matera's municipal police use them (mostly for parking violations).
Oh them witches! Famous in Benevento, the local liqueur is named for them (Strega; delicious, it tastes like sunset). They performed rituals weekly at a tree by the Sabato River (witches' sabbaths) until the bishop cut down the tree. Probably did in the witches, too. If you are Strega shopping, the prices are much lower in the centro storico than at the main factory/store across the street from the train station.