Exploring Molise – the little known – beautiful region

Exploring Molise
Molise countryside

Exploring Molise: One of Italy’s smallest regions, Molise offers a world of culture and flavors. Simplicity and joie de vivre: these are the main characteristics of Campobasso and its province, small centers of one of Italy’s tiniest and still unknown regions: Molise. Nestled between Abruzzo, Apulia, and Campania, it’s a small emerald sparkling with natural beauty, from the seaside to the forests, from the Matese mountains to the countryside.

Its many archeological ruins testify to a past that finds its roots in the Samnites and in the reign of ancient Rome.

Such as those in Pietrabbondante and Sepino, the base of an archeological park complete with an ancient Roman theater which is still intact and surrounded by greenery, or those in Bojano, which rise up at the foot of the Biferno river and offer art lovers its beautiful churches, including the cathedral where the seven deadly sins are depicted, as well as the Sorgente di Pietre Cadute.

Closely connected with Bojano is the hamlet of Civita Superiore, a village with a population of around fifty, most of the inhabitants being elderly folks who remained to protect the old houses. A visit to this charming village is truly captivating. It’s like walking through a distant past which has nothing in common with our modern, frenetic lifestyle. Testifying to this are three citizens over a hundred years old who are more than willing to tell visitors the history of these places, which were immortalized by Sergio Castelletto in his film “Don’t Move” (“Non ti muovere”).

Exploring Molise: medieval villages

Not far away, on the slopes of the Matese, we find Campochiaro, Molise’s second largest town after Roccamandolfi in terms of hectares of forest land. Here, as in Capracotta (near the hermitage of St. Luke), and in the oases of Venafro and Guardiaregia, tourists who allow themselves to be taken away by the sweetness of the landscape can delve into untouched forests, mountains, and cascades, breathing in the fresh air and enjoying sports such as skiing, rock climbing and hang-gliding in both summer and winter.

Yet Molise has even more to offer. There are numerous medieval villages. All of the 136 towns in the region have towers, castles, forts, and examples of sacred art in Romanic and Baroque style, such as those found in Matrice, San Felice del Molise and San Massimo.

Also worthy of a trip is Campobasso, Molise region’s capital, where visitors can admire its cathedral, and Termoli, the luminous seaside port on the Adriatic which is the hometown of comics artist Benito Jacovitti.

Here, before setting sail for the beautiful Tremiti islands, one can stroll along the streets of the old village and enjoy delicious fish dishes at the restaurant’s Borgo, Da Noi Tre, and Torre Sinarca.

Of Italy’s 20 regions, Molise probably ranks 20th in terms of name recognition. In fact, until 1970, it was part of Abruzzo, the adjacent region it closely resembles. Mountains and hills, rather than people, crowd the interior, while flatter plains guard a short 35km stretch of Adriatic coast. Although Campobasso is the largest city, its brightest attractions are Termoli, a higgledy-piggledy coastal town characterized by its trabucchi (fishing platforms), and Isernia and Saepinum, for glimpses of the Palaeolithic and Roman past. Molise has suffered steady depopulation since the late 19th century, adding to its sense of isolation.

Marinelli Pontificia Fonderia di Campane
Tourist Information

Tourist Office This office is in Agnone, a small town 40km northeast of regional capital Isernia. It offers information about accommodation in the area as well as details on bell-making tours of Marinelli Pontificia Fonderia di Campane.

Exploring Molise: accommodations

As for accommodation, stay overnight in Capracotta, at the hotel by the same name, at the Eden in Campobasso or at Pleiadi’s in Bojano, which also offers excellent cuisine.

In addition to natural and artistic beauty, tourists who choose Molise as their vacation destination may also have fun at the many local village festivals, such as the Carnevale Mardi Gras celebrations in Tufara and Rocchetta al Volturno, the Wheat Festival in Jelsi on St. Anna’s day and the Mutton Festival in Capracotta, where one can enjoy the ancient flavors of the area’s country-style cooking.
Also the mulette di Macchiagodenae, sausages and soppressata, pasta dishes, cavatelli served with lamb ragu’, maccheroni alla chitarra, fusilli and polenta, nettle and cardoon soups, excellent cheeses and second courses made of grilled kid and lamb.

We suggest trying the buffalo mozzarella produced by the many local dairy farms, in particular, those in Bojano and Venafro. As for wine, try the autochthonous DOC wines Biferno (available in white, rosè, red and riserva), Molise, Trebbiano, and Aglianico, as well as the IGT wine Terre Degli Osci.

Author: Adele Lapertosa
Courtesy of sanpellegrino.com

Other destinations