Molise is one of the twenty administrative regions of Italy. The region of Molise is also the youngest region, having previously been part of Abruzzi e Molise, along with the region of Abruzzo. Effectively split in 1970, Molise covers 4438 square kilometers and is the second smallest region in Italy, coming before only the Aosta Valley. The region is split into two provinces, which borrow their names from their respective capitals, Isernia and Campobasso. Campobasso in turn serves as the regional capital. Molise is bordered to the east by the Adriatic Sea and so boasts seaside related activities. The terrain of the region also runs into mountainous and hilly, as with much of the rest of Italy.
Molise is a hidden gem in Italy, often overlooked for larger tourist destinations such as Milan and Rome. The region is steeped in culture and any visitor is immediately enraptured by the old world style of life still in evidence by some of the culture and customs of the region. The countryside is dotted with castles, abbeys, and archeological sites to discover for the inquisitive visitor. The turbulent nature of the regions past makes for a cornucopia of fascinating sites for the avid tourist to explore. The region is not as popular with tourists and may be, for the discerning visitor, the ideal region to relax while taking in the sights, sounds and tastes of Italy.
General Information on Molise
Molise is the second smallest region of the twenty Italian regions. It has a population of just over three hundred thousand people. This accounts for less than one percent of the Italian population. Molise has a GDP of six and a half billion Euros. The terrain in Molise is mostly mountainous, with fifty five percent of the terrain being mountainous, forty five percent hilly with these zones stretching down to the coastline. Molise also boasts thirty five kilometers of coastline on the Adriatic Sea, near the Tremiti Islands. Molise is bordered by Abruzzo to the north, Apulia to the east, Lazio to the west and Campania to the south. The main driver of the economy in Molise is agriculture. Agriculture is followed by industry, food processing and construction as pillars of the economy. The region is divided into two provinces, Campobasso and Isernia, with Campobasso being larger and more densely populated.
History of Molise
The region has a very turbulent past, with several of the strongest tribes and peoples vying for control of the region at different periods. Molise was initially settled by the Samnites, a fierce people, skilled in warfare. The Samnites would regularly defeat the Romans, but were eventually swallowed by The Roman Empire. After the split of the Empire, the Lombards held sway over the area for some time, before they too were deposed by another people. The region derives its name from a local warlord who ruled in the era after the Lombards. The Saracens also invade the region during its history. Molise is dotted with castles and strongholds which pay homage the many conflicts which have defined its history. Molise finally became officially a region of Italy in 1963.
Things to Do and See in Molise
Molise is a wonderful gem of Italian culture that lies off the beaten track. Away from the major tourist destinations such as Rome or Milan, Molise nonetheless offers a rich and diverse historic and cultural background which makes for a gripping and exciting vacation any time of year. The region of Molise is a melting pot of traditions and tastes from other regions of Italy as well as countries outside of Italy.
The cross cultural traditions present in Molise and in the shaping of the region play a large part in the shaping of the many festivals celebrated in Molise. Some festivals are classed as traditional and some of these include:
- The Feast of Saint Pardo in Larino, celebrated from the 25th-27th of May annually
- La Carrese and Feast of Saint Leo in San Martino in Pensilis celebrated on 30th April and 2nd May
- The Ndocciata of Agnone celebrated on 8th to 24th December
- The Saint Basso Feast in Termoli and the procession of the boats on the sea celebrated on the 4th of August
- The Sagra dei Misteri in Campobasso
- “U lut’m sab’t d’April” of Saint Croce di Magliano and benediction of animals celebrated on the last Saturday of April
- Procession of Good Friday in Campobasso
- The Procession of the Hooded on Good Friday in Isernia
- The Fire of Saint Anthony the Abbot in Colletorto celebrated on the 17th of January
- The Feat of Saint Nicandro in Venafro celebrated on 17th June
- The ox charts and Feasts in the villages of Ururi and Portocannone
In addition to these traditional festivals, Molise also has a large number of festivals dedicated to the arts, culinary delights and music.
- The international Bagpipe Festival of Scapoli, held in July
- The “Pezzata” of Capracotta held on the first Sunday in August
- The fish festival of Termoli held in August
- The Staffoli Horses held in Agone in August
- The grape feast of Riccia held in September
- The grain feast of Jelsi held on the 26th of July
- The international festival of folk in the Matese held in San Massimo
- The exhibition of black truffle in San Pietro Avellana
- The carnival of Larino in February
- “GI’ Cierv” in the carnival of Castelnuovo del Volturno held on the last Sunday in February
This is by no means an exhaustive list of Molise festivals, but merely a small listing of some of the more popular and colorful ones.
Sights of Molise
Molise has quite a lot to offer in terms of historical value and sightseeing. Some of the chief historical sites are:
- Samnite town and theatre at Pietrabbondante
- The Roman ruins at Sepino and Larino including the Roman-Goth style Cathedral
- The Swabian Castle at Termoli
- The Padone Castle at Venafro as well as Roman and Pre Roman archeological sites
- Pescolanciano Castle
- The Benedectine Abbey at San Vincenzo
- The Santuary at Addolorata
- Castelpastroso and the Santuary of Canneto in Roccavivara
- The Church of Santa Maria delle Strada in Matrice
The provinces of Molise, Campobasso and Isernia also provide much distraction for the wandering visitor.
Campobasso and Isernia
The capital of Molise is much like the rest of the region, steeped in old world style and tradition. The Castello Monforte is located in Campobasso and is a must see on any visit through the region. There is also the Provincial Samnite Museum which has on display exhibits from the supposed first people to settle the region. Agnone, a small town near the capital is renowned worldwide for the making of church bells. The town of Scapoli is renowned for bagpipes and features a museum dedicated to this ancient item. Isernia is even older, with much of the city having been rebuilt after countless invasions and bombings in world war two. Located there is a 13th century fountain and numerous prehistoric sites.
Things to do in Molise
One of the major features of tourism in Molise is that the visitor can fully immerse and participate in the spectrum of what Molise has to offer without the large crowds that are always found at Italy’s more popular tourist destinations.. From relaxing to vigorous sports, visitors will be able to dispense with their vacation time in relative ease, away from the large crowds and noise of the larger regions. For the nature lovers, there is excellent hiking in the National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise. There is also the World Wildlife Fund Reserve in Guardargia-Campochiaro. Many of these areas also offer biking trails for the avid mountain biker. One may also take a horseback ride through the tratturi, ancient migratory trails that go back thousands of years. Skiing is also available in the mountains at Campitello Matese and there are also numerous spas in the area. The resort is also known for its cross country skiing. The seaside is also a great source of fun and relaxation for any visitor to Molise. Sandy beaches, clear water and uncrowded beaches make the Molise coastline an attractive place for a relaxing getaway.
Tastes Of Molise
Molise is a farming region, rich in agriculture and animal husbandry. While the wine industry is premature, it is widely thought that in coming years it will become an important area for top vintages. Sheep farming and locally grown produce are staples of the diet in Molise and notable dishes to try out are the maccheroni alla chitarra to pallotte, which is round balls of eggs, cheese, pasta, beans, polenta, lamb and roast turcinelli, which is lamb offal. Dairy is popular in the region and the cheeses feature rich dairy varieties like the caciocavallo stracciata cheeses of Agnone. Cow’s milk mozzerlla, or fior di latte is another popular one.
Customized Vacations, Italy – Why Bellarome Italian Vacations
Bellarome Italian Vacations is the best luxury travel agent for tailor-made Italian vacations. Whether you are traveling as a single person, a newlywed couple, or with a small or large group of students, friends or colleagues, or you are planning Italy family vacations, simply let us know your requirements and we will gladly take care of all of your needs. Bellarome Italian Vacations offers personalized Italian vacations, all -inclusive Italy vacations, and to suit all of your needs and preferences. We are a team of experts native to the region with over 20 years of experience of travel and tourism in Italy and luxury travel vacations. We cannot wait to help you plan your luxurious Italian vacations. With Bellarome, all you need to do is relax and enjoy your amazing Italian vacations! Whether you’re staying for the weekend or a few weeks, we will make sure that you have the best Italian vacations packages.