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
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
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.