Molise is the least known region of Italy and most likely unknown beyond national borders. In the center between Abruzzo and Puglia, this territory preserves historical artifacts, breathtaking landscapes and culinary and cultural traditions.
Molise in fact offers everything you could wish for from the sea to the mountains and even to the lakes, some not well known and others more famous. This itinerary will be a journey through Roman ruins and almost fantastic views, where history and culture will also pass through the table, delighting the soul and the palate with exquisite Molise specialties.
Guest Post by Genny Ciavarra of The S World.
The proposed itinerary starts from Sepino, a small town of almost 2000 inhabitants and guardian of some of the most fascinating Roman ruins on the peninsula. In ancient times, in fact, it was known as Saepinium, one of the paths of the tratturi sanniti. Among the various archaeological excavations and findings carried out here, from the walls to the Pietrabbondante amphitheater, it’s possible to find a place full of magic and wonder that has nothing to envy to more famous destinations such as Paestum.
In the 9th century with the Lombard invasions the Roman city depopulated and a new fortified city was founded, while in the old area of Altilia shepherds settled down and reused the walls of the theater as houses. The center was called Terravecchia.
In the 1950s this area was used by transhumants, in fact it’s still part of that historical section called tratturo .
Photo by ©Dario Angeloni
After the Paleontological era, Isernia also became a Roman-Samnite city. The first settlements date back to at least 700,000 years ago, although today due to the bombing that took place in the Second World War, it’s not possible to establish a certain date. In 264 BC became a Roman colony and in 209 BC remained faithful to Rome in the Second Punic War. In the following years various emperors, from Caesar to Nero, promoted a repopulation plan by sending colonies to the territories where the city stood. At the time of Trajan, Isernia was elevated to the rank of Town Hall.
On 23 October 1860 the city hosted King Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoy for one night on his way to Teano to meet Giuseppe Garibaldi. The Sovereign took up residence in the Palazzo Cimorelli , located today in the street of the same name, hosted by Vincenzo Cimorelli. On 10 September 1943, during the Second World War, Isernia suffered a very heavy bombardment by the allies, which destroyed almost a third of the town and caused the death of a very high number of people.
Today, the provincial and regional capital is renowned for the very famous Fonderia Marinelli , specialized in the construction of bells also and above all for the papacy.
Photo by ©Aude-Andre Debleza Saturnio
Termoli: The Village and The castle
Tourist and industrial center Termoli is the most popular maritime city in the region. Despite various sea battles, looting and settlements, this city has never lost its current splendor.
Following its proclamation as the county seat, as a strategic defense post, by the Lombards, a defensive complex was built in the city consisting of walls, a tower and 8 crenellated turrets, including one still called Tornola Tower .
The cathedral and the Castle, perhaps wanted by Frederick II, make it clear that it was a place of defense, but also a papal one. The Turkish invasions with rockets and devastation, earthquakes and changes of ownership between dynasties and noble families marked a slow decline of the city that lasted until about 1770.
Today the part of the ancient village, with its sea view walls and the castle, make Termoli a tourist attraction much loved by both travelers and inhabitants.
Photo by ©Gabriella Clare Marino
Campitello Matese, the Destination of Winter Sports
Located on the Samnite Apennines, within the Matese Massif, the Campitello fraction is among the most fashionable areas of the region.
Capital of winter sports, this karst area is made even more unique by the presence of its plain: a large flat valley which in spring, with the melting of the snow, leads to the formation of a large mountain lake on the high ground: the Lake of the Matese .
Also in spring, here you can admire the flowering of the characteristic snowdrop flowers that decorate the mountains with their natural beauty.
Tourist area in spring, but above all in winter, the city, together with Termoli and the lakes areas, constitutes 100% of Molise tourism.
Photo by ©Gabriella Clare Marino
Knowledge and Flavors between Festivals, Traditions and Cuisine
Molise isn’t only known for its history, but also for its cuisine. From Termoli famous for its fish soup prepared with poor fish, up to Isernia where it’s possible to taste the fiadone, a pastry filled with ricotta cooked in the form and served both sweet and salty.
But if festivals and events are what you are looking for, these are among the most famous and the most beautiful:
–Fish Festival of Termoli (August);
–Festival of the Pezzata of Capracotta (August);
–Festival of Porchetta of Ariccia (September);
–Vredocchie Festival of Santa Croce di Magliano (August).