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You are Here: > > Molise

Molise

 
 
Overview

Molise is the second smallest region in central Italy. It used to be part of the region "Abruzzi e Molise" until the provinces were separated in 1963. It is bordered on the north-west by Abruzzo, on the west by Lazio, Campania to the south, Puglia to the south east, and the Adriatic Sea lies on the northeast. It covers 4,438 sq kilometers and has two major provinces: Campobasso and Isernia. A region of hills and mountains, Molise has a very deep and interesting history.

Molise's capital, Campobasso, can trace its history back to the Samnite Period. Samnites, an ancient Italic people who dared to fight the Roman Empire, recognized Campobasso's strategic location. Apparently, the Samnites were correct since the Canadian troops used this province as a base during the Second World War. The Canadians called Campobasso the "Maple Leaf City".

Noted for the historic center which dates back to the Monforte Family, Campobasso is also known for the Romanesque churches of San Bartolomeo and San Giorgino; and the Santa Maria della Strada, a 15th century gothic sepulcher. Other places worth visiting in Campobasso include the Church of Sant Antonio Abate, which houses carvings and wooden sculptures of 16th century Molise masters, the Samnite Museum and the Fair of Mysteries.

Isernia, the other province in Molise, sits in a very remote location. It is known as "the first capital of Italy". A hardy city, Isernia has been destroyed and rebuilt twelve times; it was last destroyed in 1943. It is fortunate that despite the bombardment during WWII, the Fontana della Fraterna, a beautiful monument erected in the 13th century by the Ponzia family, descendants of Pontius Pilate, remained intact.

The oldest and most extensive Paleolithic settlement in Europe is also located in Isernia. Unearthed in 1978 while building a road connecting Isernia to Vasto, this settlement dates back to 800 - 900 thousand years ago and extends over 320,000 square feet. It is partially open to the public and visitors can walk on suspended sidewalks, which hover above 20,000 artifacts, including tools, bone fragments and animal carcasses.

Molise food is uncomplicated, usual ingredients are vegetables, pork, and chili peppers as spices. These are often sauced with tomatoes. The P'lenta d'iragn, a white polenta made of potatoes and wheat, and served with tomato sauce, is one of Molise's more unusual dishes. Cheese from Molise includes scamorza, mateca and burrino.




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