An Introduction to Molise, Italy
A small region in Southern Italy, Molise has a funny nickname, “the region that doesn’t exist”. The name’s explanation is that even Italians think Molise has nothing to offer, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Molise is filled with incredible historic sites, breathtaking mountains that will be the joy of every outdoor lover, and heavenly beaches.
Bordered by the Apennines on the west and the Adriatic Sea on the east, Molise will surprise you!
Things to See & Do in Molise
Campobasso is Molise’s capital city and offers visitors picturesque views and numerous monuments. Particularly impressive are the Monforte Castle and the Romanesque church of San Bartolomeo. If you want to see something unique, visit the Museum of the Nativity Scene, which testifies to an ancient artisan tradition.
Isernia is Molise’s other province, a town with an ancient history evident in the archeological sites of La Pineta and the Quadrella Necropolis. Make sure to stop by the monumental Fraterna Fountain, the city’s symbol.
In the small town of Pietrabbondante, perched at the foot of Mount Caraceno, you can admire the wonderful archaeological remains of a temple and a theater from the Samnite civilization.
Among the unmissable places to visit in Molise is Castel San Vincenzo, where you can see the majestic Castel San Vincenzo, the ancient Benedictine abbey of San Vincenzo al Volturno, and the splendid Castel San Vincenzo Lake.
Molise is a fantastic region to visit if you are planning a summer trip. You will love the seaside resort of Termoli with its high-quality hotel facilities and “Blue Flag” awarded beaches. From Termoli, you can also take the direct ferry to the Tremiti Islands, in Puglia.
Campomarino is another beach destination in Molise, which offers well-equipped beaches with crystal-clear waters and a splendid tree-lined seaside promenade with traditional seafood restaurants.
Are you more into green landscapes or mountain scenery? The Collemeluccio-Montedimezzo Nature Reserve in the Apennines is entirely covered with woods inhabited by precious flora and fauna that you can marvel at by walking the many hiking trails. This reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of eight Italian biosphere reserves, so it’s something really special! Other protected areas are the Abruzzo, Lazio, and Molise National Park and the WWF Oasis of Monte Mutria and Guardiaregia Campochiaro, where you can explore the Quirino stream canyon, the caves of Pozzo della Neve, and the stunning San Nicola waterfall.
The slopes of Monte Miletto will instead make happy those looking for skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing.
Lastly, don’t miss Molise’s unique characteristic, the “tratturi”. These ancient beaten grass paths were used to transfer cattle from the coast to the interior. Ask a local shepherd to guide you on these paths for an unforgettable experience!
Secret Gems of Molise
One of Molise’s most incredible undiscovered gems is the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sorrows, in Castelpetroso. This imposing neo-Gothic building has pointed spires silhouetted against the sky, seven chapels representing the seven sorrows of the Virgin Mary, and a 54-meter-high central dome.
The sanctuary is a site of religious pilgrimage as it is said that two shepherd children saw the miraculous apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1888.
The sanctuary’s position in a wide-open space makes its appearance like straight out of a fairytale, especially when the ground and the surrounding mountains are covered in candid snow.
Food & Drink of Molise
Molise’s cuisine is very diverse. Olives and the special wheat with which the Molisian bread and pasta are made are among the best regional products.
Must-try pasta shapes are Cavatelli, perfect with broccoli and chili, and Fusilli, eaten traditionally with lamb ragù.
Another incredible local product is the highly prized white truffle, which grows in the mountains of Campobasso and Isernia. Try it for a heavenly meal!
Among the many cured types of meat, a special one is Signora di Conca Casale, prepared using the best parts of the pork flavored with various spices and fennel.
In the cheese department, an absolute must-try is Caciocavallo di Agnone.
Are you into street food? Then don’t miss Pampanella, marinated pork meat with sweet or spicy red pepper, garlic, salt, and vinegar, served in a bun.
If you want to taste something extra traditional, try Pezzata, a stew of boiled mutton prepared with potatoes, vegetables, and spices.
Along the coast, the best seafood dishes are Brodetto alla Termolese, prepared with at least eight qualities of fish, and Baccala Arracanato, in which the cod fish is cooked covered with ashes, and then seasoned with breadcrumbs, pine nuts, walnuts, raisins, olives, and cherry tomatoes. End your traditional meal with the Cancelle, a waffle-like dessert seasoned with fennel seeds, or Scarepelle, a leavened batter fried and served with plenty of sugar.