Travel Tuesdays: Il Molise

Molise is situated in south-central Italy. It is the newest region of Italy, as it was part of the Abruzzo region until 1970. The survival of customs and traditions, of handicrafts and the old professions that have disappeared elsewhere is a unique feature that makes Molise, a really fascinating area to discover.

File:Isernia panorama.JPGIn the western part of the region we find the city of Isernia. Its diverse historic and cultural heritage can be traced in its main buildings, like the Fontana della Fraterna, dedicated to Pope Celestine V (a native son) and dating back to the 14th Century; The early Medieval Cathedral built on the site of a temple dating from the third century B.C.;  the Church of San Francesco, erected in 1222 at the behest of Francis of Assisi on a visit to Isernia; and Palazzo San Francesco, a monumental Gothic construction that now houses the Town Hall. If you enjoy trekking, you can take advantage of the many Tratturi (the ancient grassy paths of transhumance) that cover the territory of this province and other parts of the region as well.

Moving east there’s the city of Campobasso, which is also the capital of the region. Its medieval center is dominated by the Monforte Castle, surrounded by several Baroque and Romanesque churches, like the Church of San Bartolomeo, the Church of Sant’Antonio Abate,  the Church of San Leonardo, and the Church of San Giorgio. The city is also an ideal place to plan day trips to the surrounding towns of Santa Croce di Magliano and Larino, for an immersion into the authentic Italian atmosphere of this region.

Termoli is the gem of this region on the Adriatic cost. Its historic center, enclosed by medieval walls, hosts the Romanesque Cathedral, its fishermen houses and the Swabian Castle, that was originally a Norman building. Especially during summer, you’ll enjoy its beaches and thriving night life.

The traditional food of this area includes: pallotte with cheese and eggs, pasta and beans, polenta, lamb and roast turcinelli, that is lamb offal. Among the best products of the area are extra-virgin olive oil, Isenia truffle and durum wheat pasta. There are several types of salami and cold pork meat, like the saggicciotti, liver sausages, ventricina salami and pampanera, oven-dried bacon with hot pepper.
Dairy products are really special in this region, particularly caciocavallo and stracciata of Agnone and upper Molise, and buffalo mozzarella. Scamorza and burrino cheeses are produced everywhere in Molise. Local popular wines are Biferno and Pentro.

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