Exploring Molise

Molise countryside
Molise countryside

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”).

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 restaurants Borgo, Da Noi Tre, and Torre Sinarca.

Molise flowers
Molise flowers

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.

The area of Molise has a wide variety of genuine food and wine specialties, ranging from salumi such as smoked prosciutto from Spinete and Rionero Sannitico, 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