It is the second smallest region of Italy: Molise. You should probably think deeply about where it is right now. Don't be ashamed of it, because many Italians wonder that too. In fact, there are those who even doubt the existence of Molise, because you hear so little about it. Others claim that if you manage to get into the mountainous area, you're bound to encounter unicorns, elves and other fairytale characters.
We don't want to go that far. Molise exists, although it is unknown (except for Robert De Niro, whose ancestors come from). The small region is located on the Adriatic coast and borders the Abruzzo, Apulia, Campania en Lazio.
Molise doesn't have something that immediately comes to mind when you hear the name. Perhaps it also has to do with the fact that Molise is the youngest region of Italy. Until 1963, the area belonged to the Abruzzo e Molise region.
As a Dutch or Fleming, you don't have to be ashamed that you don't know this region yet. Ask an average Italian about a typical regional dish, the dialect or a specific tradition from Molise and ten to one you get a glassy look in response. So it seemed a challenge to come up with a list of sights in Molise. But that was okay. In fact, Molise has more to offer than you think.
Take a look…
Table of contents
Isernia is located in the middle of a valley. It is a city with a history that goes back a long way; it was already inhabited in the old stone age! The Romans built a colony there, which was sacked by the Barbarians after the fall of their empire. It didn't stop there. Isernia was badly damaged by several earthquakes and largely destroyed by Allied bombing in World War II.
Despite this, Isernia has retained its historical beauty. One of the most beautiful things to visit is the historic center with its small, characteristic streets in the lower part of the city. You will find the Fontana Fraterna and the Cathedral of San Pietro Apostolo. It was built on the remains of a temple. It hangs in the cathedral Our Lady of Light, a beautiful icon in Byzantine style.
About fifteen kilometers from the city is the Sanctuary of Castelpetroso. Don't miss this huge neo-Gothic building when visiting Molise!
Campomarino is also such an old town. The remains of a settlement are evidence that the city was already inhabited in the 19th century BC. The center is a few kilometers from the coast, but the town extends to the beautiful beach and clear waters of the Adriatic. It is therefore not surprising that this holiday destination also attracts more and more tourists from outside the region for the residents of Molise.
Check out the beautiful beach of Campomarino here:
What should you definitely not miss? The Romanesque church of Santa Maria a Mare and the avenue of centuries-old pine trees leading from the center of town to the small town of Nuova Cliternia.
3. The Montedimezzo . Nature Reserve
If you are a true nature lover, the Montedimezzo Nature Reserve awaits you. The park is located in the middle of the Apennines. You can reach heights between 900 meters and 1.300 meters on foot. As befits a protected nature reserve, flora and fauna abound.
You have the chance to spot wild boars, hares, badgers, foxes, roe deer, buzzards, owls and woodpeckers among the beech, oak and maple trees. Of course, this is also the place to look for those famous unicorns and elves. The chance that you will encounter them is as good as zero, but you don't have to tell the children that.
Campobasso is the capital of Molise and the only major city in the region. The city consists of mutually different parts, which nevertheless fit together very well. In the medieval part is the Castello Monforte. Because the city is 700 meters above sea level, you have a beautiful view from here.
After a walk along the Cattedrale della Santissima Trinità from 1504 and the Romanesque church of St. Bartholomew, you continue to the lower 19th century part of the city. This district was built according to the ideal of the 'garden city'. You will find a lot of greenery, beautifully decorated houses with beautiful gardens, squares, fountains and water fountains from which pure water flows.
If you're planning to go to Molise in the summer, Termoli is the place for a real beach holiday. The city has been awarded the Blue Flag several times because of the most beautiful beaches and the clear sea water. Ancient Termoli is surrounded by city walls.
Watch this gorgeous short film by Termoli and you'll want to go there instantly:
The tower of the old Swabian castle, all that remains, is the symbol of the city. And while you zigzag through the alleys of the historic center, you imagine yourself in Greece for a moment.
6. Campitello Matese and Capracotta
If you like skiing, you should visit the beautiful places Campitello Matese and Capracotta. Campitello Matese is located on the slope of Monte Miletto in the Apennines. It is one of the snowiest ski areas in central and southern Italy. You can do more than just ski there; the area is perfect for those who like snowshoe hikes in snowy nature. At Campitello Matese you can also visit caves, of which the Pozzo della Neve is the most famous.
Capracotta is the second highest municipality of the Apennines. The place is known for its many ski facilities and extensive cross-country skiing trails. But not only that: in 2015 the town was even in the spotlight of the international media! The reason? The more than 255 centimeters of snow that covered the town in a fairly short period of time. Capracotta probably broke Colorado's record since 1921.
Pietrabbondante is a small medieval fortified town. Walk past the little church of Santa Maria Assunta and climb to the cross at the highest point in the city while you are there. But Pietrabbondante is especially important for what lies just outside the city: the remains of Bovanium Vetus, a Greco-Roman city from 95 BC. which was the capital of the ancient region of Sannio.
In the archaeological park you will find two temples and a theater in Greek architecture. In summer the theater is still used for stage performances. In combination with the beautiful view of Molise that you have from the theater, this is an absolute must for an unforgettable evening.
Your most beautiful places in Molise?
Have you – as one of the few – been to Molise yourself? Then you might miss your most beautiful places in this list of the seven most beautiful places in Molise. Let us know in a comment below this article.
Also watch: the most beautiful places in Italy.