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Molise, Italy


Molise, Italy’s newest district, is occasionally called the ‘area between the mountains and the sea“. It is Italy's second smallest region and is generally untouched by tourism. It is  known for its regional cookery, its cheeses, and its pastoral  surroundings.

Molise is a mountainous region on the Adriatic coast surrounded by Abruzzo to the north, Puglia on the south and Lazio Roma and Campania to the west.
Visitors will find Molise to be an uncomplicated trip from either Naples or Rome, and they will enjoy the lush forests and small medieval towns and castles.

Molise became a popular tourist spot after  the earthquake in 2002. Some of the towns received government funds so  that homeowners would rebuild their homes to resist the volcanic  activity. One town in particular, Larino, was restored with the plan to  repaint the houses in the traditional historic colors of subtle pastel  shades. Larino has turned into a tourist center.

The Samnites, an early tribe of Italy, settled the area, which was then embroiled in  wars with the Romans until 290 BC when the Romans brutally defeated the  Samnites, killing thousands and destroying towns. The area was later  controlled in succession by the Goths and Lombard’s, then the Normans in the 11th century. It was ruled by Ugo di Mulhouse as governor, and the  name Molise is drawn from his name. Later, the region was ruled by both  the Kingdoms of Sicilty and Naples and was incorporated into modern Italy in 1861.


The two provinces contain major and minor towns all of which contain  historical relics. Campobasso, the capital of Molise, is identified with its religious procession and festival held in June, the National School for Carabinieri, and for its etched cutlery. Insernia, settled by the  Samnites, is known for its lace industry and for raising onions. The  historical center has the Fontana Freterna from 1300s constructed from  Roman ruins.

Termoli, which is a fishing port, has beaches, a  cathedral from the 1200s, and a castle. Agnone is famous for its bell  factories, which has made bells for the Vatican, and coppersmith shops.  Acquaviva Collercroce, which was founded by the Slavs, keeps its Slavic  traditions and language. Uri is an Albanian town that keeps its Albanian customs. Scapoli is distinguished by its bagpipe market held in the  summer. Cero ai Volturno, regarded as the finest castle in the area, was built in the 10th century and is sits on a rock over the town.  Saepinum, a Roman provincial town, is a prime example of Roman design of a town with walls for defense and still exists with the paving, forum,  shops and other buildings.

Other points outside the city are  fascinating attraction sites. Consider Vasto, the oldest settlement from Paleolithic times found in Europe, which was uncovered in 1978. The area is 300,000 square feet and can be viewed from a walkway suspended above the ruins. Pietrabbondante is the settlement of the highest elevation in Italy and, the entire area is  untarnished by development. It includes a Roman theater and other  shrines.

Near Venafro close to the Matese and Mainard mountain  ranges, visit the Roman amphitheater and Roman theater along with a  Samnian meetinghouse. A church in Romanesque style with 15th century  frescoes is located above the town. View the adjoining castle from the  10th century, and the Chiesa Santa Marie delle Grazie inside a grotto.

Map of Molise, ItalyDriving toward Isernia, travel across the tunnels and bridges through the  mountains. Near the turn for Isernia, view the scenic Vulturine valley  and then stop at Aquilonia, the location of the ancient town of the  Samnite. The remains are an amazing wall of huge stone built without  mortar.

Molise is easily accessed by means of trains from Rome, Naples, Pescara, and Sulmona. International flights land at Pescara in  Abruzzo. Travelers can visit the region by taking buses to the villages. A rental car would make it easier to travel at the visitor's  convenience. Because Molise is not a major tourist area, hotels are  mostly found along the coast, in Campbasso and Isernia. Visitors will  find campgrounds out in the country.

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