"Do you know Molise?" this is the question that any Molise asks when talking about his region, fully embodying that sense of visceral belonging that binds him inextricably to his land and that innate desire to tell his origins.
"But does Molise exist?" the classic answer to the aforementioned question, assuming theories that see Molise as a simple border line between Abruzzo and Puglia, or as a huge gulf that bathes Campania, Lazio, Puglia and Abruzzo. "Molise exists and is a wonderful place" which is not just the classic commentary of any Molise since the New York Times has included it fully among the 52 destinations to visit in 2020 (reached 37th place ) calling it "one of the most spectacular parts of the country and its youngest region": one of the most spectacular parts of Italy as well as its youngest region. Also in Molise we find the beautiful Termoli defined by easyvoyage as the "Italian Greenwich", seaside resort par excellence, awarded several times with the recognition of the Blue Flag of Europe and therefore one of the top 5 destinations according to the well-known easyvoyage website.
What do we know about the twentieth region of Italy?
The adjective that best sums up the ancient land of the Samnites is "unexpected". And yes, Molise is really unexpected! His landscapes are unexpected, ranging from the green of the Matese mountains to the blue of the Adriatic Sea. Its flavors are unexpected, telling us about heady scents and simple but genuine dishes. Its traditions are unexpected, such as the mysteries of Campobasso, the devil of Tufara, the Pizzicantò of Castellino del Biferno or the carresi of the lower Molise, deriving from ancient pagan rites. The history of Molise is unexpected, which has always been a crossroads of peoples, each of which has left unique archaeological evidence. Molise art is unexpected, ranging from magnificent portals carved with skill and passion in the limestone by the masters of Pescopennataro, to the bells of the pontifical Marinelli foundry in Agnone, up to the tombolo d'Isernia, unique laces, expertly made in hand from the women of the city pentra.
It is worthwhile to better explore this still little-known region, where nature, history, art, traditions and gastronomy come together in a unique mix, all to be discovered.
Traveling in Molise
Our trip to Molise starts from the coast and precisely from Termoli, the largest coastal city. Awarded several times with the Blue Flag of Europe for the clarity of its sea, Termoli offers tourists equipped beaches, restaurants and many hotel services.
The city is famous for its ancient village, surrounded by high fortified walls overlooking the sea. The city walls culminate in the tower of the ancient Swabian Castle, the only survivor of the passage of time and today a symbol of the city. Strolling through the alleys of the historic center of Termoli offers unexpected emotions: it is in fact possible to cross the narrowest street in Europe, with its 41 cm in diameter.
The Adriatic city, besides being famous for giving birth to the world-famous cartoonist Jacovitti, l?ideatore tra i tanti del celebre personaggio Cocco Bill, è rinomata per la suggestiva processione di San Basso che si svolge sul mare.
Our journey continues along the S.S. 647 or "Bifernina", a state road that runs alongside the Biferno river and offers breathtaking panoramic views. In fact, the road, near Guardialfiera, a small town in the hinterland, is divided into two viaducts, Molise 1 and Molise 2, which are among the longest in Europe and overlook the dam of Lake Liscione. The city, as well as for its ancient village, is famous for the Hannibal bridge (now submerged by the waters of the lake), on which according to legend, the leader marched to the Apulia region to fight against the Romans.
Not far from Guardialfiera, there is a very small municipality, inhabited by a few hundred people: Civitacampomarano. The village, dating back to the era of the Samnites, is famous both for its medieval castle built by the Angevins, and for the "Cvtà" festival, an international festival of artists, who every year color the streets of the town. During this festival, in fact, the streets and walls of the town are the backdrop for several writer artists (such as Alice Pasquini) who gradually enrich Civita with new works of art.
Continuing the journey on the Bifernina, we arrive in Campobasso, the capital of the region. The city rises 700 meters above sea level, is the most populous (50,000 inhabitants) and thanks to its very favorable position it offers truly suggestive panoramas.
The most characteristic places to visit are the Monforte Castle, located on a hill overlooking the whole city, the Cathedral of 1504, which houses frescoes attributed to the famous Molise artist Saverio Di Zinno, the Church of San Bartolomeo, in Romanesque style and the museum Samnite, which houses countless finds dating back to the ancient Italic civilization.
The most beautiful time to visit the city is that of Corpus Domini. In fact, every year on the occasion of the festival, the tales of the mysteries parade through the streets of the capital, attracting hundreds of thousands of faithful and tourists. The mysteries are representations with the extras, which have as their subject religious themes and are carried on the shoulder each year accompanied by the sound of the famous band march "Moses".
Province of Campobasso: Riccia, Castellino del Biferno, the Carresi, Trivento and Altilia
From the Molise capital, it is very easy to get to the municipalities of the province. Each of which offers amazing surprises.
For art lovers, the right stop is Trivento, with its cathedral of Saints Nazario, Celso and Vittore which houses a crypt from the past and the episcopal see. Another place of interest is Palazzo Comitale which dominates the town and is surrounded by a maze of narrow streets all rigorously in Matese limestone.
For lovers of traditions, particular mention must be made of the Carresi of the lower Molise, a centuries-old tradition to which all Molisans are linked, which consists of carts drawn by oxen, and the Pizzicantò of Castellino del Biferno, a human pyramid of three floors, which parades through the streets of the town every year on June 12th, accompanied by accordion songs. Riccia, on the other hand, is the home of fun, in fact, every year in September, the grape festival takes place, with the characteristic floats that parade through the town, giving the public large drinks, typical dishes and lots of laughter.
For history lovers, however, the ideal place is Altilia. This archaeological area is located in the municipality of Sepino and is of pre-Roman origin. The site is located on the slopes of Matese, in the valley of the Tammaro river and is positioned along the ancient Pescasseroli-Candela sheep track. This geographical location has given Altilia an important strategic position that has made the fortune of the place over the centuries.
Those who love nature will certainly appreciate the WWF oasis of Guardiaregia, with its characteristic Mediterranean nature, its waterfalls, its fauna and its peculiarities that offer themselves in all their splendor to tourists.