15 Places to Visit in Molise

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Martí Micolau

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

located in South - East of Italy, almost swallowed up between the neighboring regions of Abruzzo, Puglia and Campania, Molise it is a small and quiet region that is very undervalued and often even forgotten. But in reality it is a wonderful region, where nature, history, art, ancient traditions and gastronomy are real treasures. Here you go cities and destinations in Molise for a wonderful holiday!


  1. Campobasso
  2. Ferrazzano and Oratino, Castello d'EFlights
  3. Civitacampomarano Castle
  4. Castellino del Biferno
  5. Gambatesa and Capua Castle
  6. Fornelli and the Volturno Valley
  7. Castles of Matese
  8. Altilia Sepino Archaeological Area and WWF Gaurdiaregia Campochiaro Reserve
  9. Campitello Matese ski resort
  10. Isernia, Frosolone and the Sanctuary of Castelpetroso
  11. Montedimezzo Reserve and Collemeluccio Reserve
  12. Upper Molise
  13. Larino Amphitheater
  14. Termoli
  15. Costa Verde and Tremiti Islands
  16. User questions and comments

1 - Campobasso

The city of Campobasso, capital of the Molise region, rises 700 m above sea level and thanks to its very favorable position offers truly evocative views. Definitely worth visiting is the Monforte Castle, located on a hill overlooking the whole city, the Cathedral of 1504, the Church of San Bartolomeo, in Romanesque style, the Church of S. Antonio Abate, with the late-Renaissance facade and the Baroque interior, the Church of San Leonardo dating back to the th century and the Church of San Giorgio built in the th century in full Gothic style. The city also houses the Museum of the Nativity, a collection of ancient nativity scenes, including some from the th century.

The territory of the province of Campobasso is also rich in archaeological finds, such as the village of Campomarino, dating back to prehistoric times, and the numerous necropolises, such as the necropolis of Termoli, with the remains of 141 tombs, the Tombs of Guglionesi, the Samnite burial ground of Gildonea and the Lombard necropolis ofi Campochiaro, from the early Middle Ages.

2 - Ferrazzano and Oratino, Castello d'EFlights

Land of migrants, Ferrazzano is a small town where houses "embrace". In a strategic position on the ancient communication routes of Molise, the village of Ferrazzano offers glimpses of great beauty and tells, through its very shape, the need for protect homes from the cold. Among the points of interest there is the Carafa castle, one of the most important castles of Molise, and the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, with the romantic portal.

A little more than 10 km away, we find Oratino, village that gives the possibility to know the interior of Molise. The country where "many arts of taste are cultivated". To be admired wherever you look, portals, balconies and balustrades, but also the interiors of churches. All the work of blacksmiths, stonecutters, gilders, glassmakers and local painters, many of whom trained in the Neapolitan environment.

In the area, lovers of castles cannot miss the Castello d'EFlights di Castropignano, built around the mid-fourteenth century, and Castello Monforte, national monument and symbol of the city of Campobasso.

3 - Civitacampomarano Castle

In the wide panorama of the fortified settlements of the Molise region, the Castle of Civitacampomarano certainly is one of the most suggestive. Built around the th century as impressive military fortress, consists of a quadrangular wall with three cylindrical embattled towers. Each tower is characterized on the outside by slits and hanging arches supported by stone shelves.

The main entrance is via a staircase and a remarkable entrance portal in typical Catalan-Aragonese style. Two coats of arms are preserved above the keystone: that of the Carafa della Spina family and that of Paolo di Sangro, joined in turn to that of the Monforte to sanction the union of the two families. The coat of arms is then surmounted by a dragon that has two overturned lilies under its paws, allegorical testimony of the betrayal of the two families towards the Angevins in favor of the alliance with the Aragonese. Note, in the internal courtyard, the graceful "Samnite" fountain made up of a sculpture with four anthropomorphic figures.

4 - Castellino del Biferno

Small town of just over 500 inhabitants in the province of Campobasso, Castellino del Biferno overlooks the valley of the Biferno river and rises on a sandstone ridge 450 m above sea level. It is nicknamed "the country that moves" because of the many landslides located throughout the municipal area. The intrinsic characteristics of the territory and the particular morphological and geological conformations of the subsoil, in fact, cause one slow but continuous soil erosion.

Interesting to see the Church dedicated to San Pietro in Vincoli, the most important church in the country where 13 statues are kept, the walnut choir of 1700 and the baptismal font carved in stone, the Chapel of the Beata Vergine delle Grazie and that of the Addolorata, near the Civic Tower. Furthermore, Castellino del Biferno is a town rich in water, both superficial and underground. For this in its territory there are many fountains, the most important is the "Fontanino".

5 - Gambatesa and Capua Castle

About 30 km from Campobasso, on the border with Puglia, is Gambatesa, a small but characteristic village placed on a hill facing the Occhito lake. From the typical structure of medieval villages, with alleys, arcades, courtyards and rapid stairways, the pride of Gambatesa is its surprising Castle, one of the most beautiful in Molise, famous for its precious th century frescoes.

The Castle of Capua was born as a medieval manor with a massive appearance, then transformed into an elegant mansion in the Renaissance era. Exploring its rooms, what strikes and fascinates the visitor is the sixteenth-century cycle of frescoes of inestimable value and beauty. Painted by Donato da Copertino (or Decumbertino) and his disciples commissioned by Vincenzo I di Capua, Duke of Termoli and Count of Gambatesa, these frescoes, in perfect Mannerist style, they reproduce mythological and allegorical episodes but also episodes of ancient history. Finally, the visit is completed by admiring the incomparable view of Lake Occhito and the nearby towns of Molise and Puglia, which can be enjoyed from the terrace of the castle.

6 - Fornelli and the Volturno Valley

On the right of the Volturno river, Fornelli rises, a small village nestled in a hilly landscape. In fact, here an excellent oil is produced, it is no coincidence that the town is part of the National Association of Oil Cities. The historic center is developed around the marquis palace which, together with the church, gave life to the first nucleus of the town, which was then enlarged during the Middle Ages and surrounded by walls with 7 defense towers and the patrol walkway still visible today.

The Volturno Valley is a splendid area of ​​Molise, on the border with Lazio and Abruzzo, characterized by an uncontaminated nature. Here is Venafro, nicknamed the "gate of Molise", known for the Roman amphitheater, also known as the "Verlasce" and for the beautiful old town dominated by the elegant Pandone Castle with sixteenth-century frescoes.

Not far from Venafro is Castel San Vincenzo, a small urban center of 600 inhabitants where it stands the ancient Benedictine monastery of San Vincenzo al Volturno. Finally we mention the Castel San Vincenzo lake, an artificial reservoir that blends well with the landscape, in which to engage in fishing and other water sports.

7 - Castles of Matese

An extremely fascinating area of ​​Molise is that of the Castelli del Matese, studded, as the name suggests, with fairytale castles and delightful villages. In the village of Civita Superiore, there are the remains of the castle of Civita di Boiano, which they were part of the state-owned fortresses of Emperor Frederick II.

Roccamandolfi is located in a somewhat bucolic area, immersed in the woods and almost on the border with Campania, picturesque mountain center at the foot of the Matese massif. Its historic center is characterized by old houses perched around the church of San Giacomo Maggiore. Note, the statue of the Brigand, to testify the phenomenon of banditry that characterized the town. And to dominate the inhabited area, the ruins of the Rocca, which overlooks it from a hill from which to enjoy a breathtaking view.

Also at the foot of the Matese, Monteroduni rises, whose narrow streets and houses of the historic center rise around the most important monument in the country: the Pignatelli Castle. Surrounded by a mighty city wall, with four cylindrical towers at the corners, a Lombard fortress first and then a Norman one, today it is a splendid noble residence.

8 - Altilia Sepino archaeological area and WWF Gaurdiaregia Campochiaro Reserve

For lovers of ancient history we recommend a visit to Altilia Sepino (Saepinum), "the unearthed city", a well-preserved testimony of an ancient city in the Roman province. In the ruins of this archaeological area it is possible to live a suggestive experience in contact with history, in a place that preserves exactly all the characteristics of the ancient urban structure.

Nature lovers they will find fun at the WWF Oasis of Guardiaregia Campochiaro, the second largest WWF Oasis in Italy with an extension of 3135 hectares. At the Oasis it is possible to enjoy some spectacular karst phenomena, such as the Canyon of the Quirino stream, the San Nicola waterfall, the caves of Pozzo della Neve and Cul di Bove, counted among the deepest abysses in Europe. As for the flora, the attractions to admire are the centuries-old beech trees (the oldest is more than 500 years old!), while among the most interesting fauna species we should mention the spectacled salamander, the great spotted woodpecker, the dipper and the polyxena, one of the most beautiful and colorful diurnal butterflies in Italy .

9 - Campitello Matese ski resort

Campitello Matese is a mountain resort located in the heart of the Molise Apennines, more specifically on the slopes of Monte Miletto (2.050 m). Represents one of the most important winter tourist destinations of Molise as it offers one of the snowiest ski resorts in central-southern Italy. The slopes are located between 1.450 and 1.900 m of altitude, with 6 lifts and 14 slopes of different difficulty, for a total of about 40 km among the Samnite Apennines, which pedestrians and enthusiasts can admire from above thanks to the Caprio chairlift. And anyone who doesn't like skiing has the possibility of making beautiful snowshoeing in the silence of nature through truly enchanting woods.

Near the slopes there are numerous accommodation facilities, a ski school, equipment rental and numerous activities and services that make your stay pleasantboth in summer and in winter. Campitello Matese is in fact theideal destination for families, friends and sportsmen who want to spend days of pure relaxation immersed in the wonderful views of the Molise mountains.

10 - Isernia, Frosolone and the Sanctuary of Castelpetroso

Isernia is an ancient city and was the capital of the peoples of Samnite origins and still today it stands out for its narrow alleys, very suggestive and characteristic. Among the most interesting monuments we find the Fontana Fraterna, built between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries in honor of one of the illustrious citizens, Pope Celestino V. Also worth mentioning is the Cathedral, rebuilt in the nineteenth century after having suffered numerous damage due to earthquakes, which houses a beautiful icon of Byzantine style, known as "The Madonna of the light".

But not only the city of Isernia is interesting. Its province also offers attractions and places of interest. Starting from Frosolone, "the city of knives", where you can visit the Museum of cutting tools, and the Sanctuary of Castelpetroso, a place of worship of extreme importance in the Catholic world, pilgrimage destination from every corner of Italy. The most suggestive way to reach it is along the Tobias Path, which combines the religious theme with the naturalistic theme.

11 - Montedimezzo Reserve and Collemeluccio Reserve

For a holiday full of unspoiled nature and breathtaking landscapes, the Collemeluccio-Montedimezzo State Natural Reserve is ideal. Located in the heart of the Molise Apennines in Alto Molise, respectively in the territories of the municipalities of Vastogirardi and Pescolanciano, it is a natural area consisting of about 300 hectares, part of the 8 Italian "Biosphere Reserves": the so-called MaB (Man and the Biosphere Program - Unesco Heritage 1971 - Man and Biosphere), a network of localities and terrestrial and coastal / marine ecosystems recognized worldwide for their high naturalistic value.

The entire reserve is wooded and reaches altitudes between 900 and 1.300 m in height. There are Turkey oaks, beeches and numerous other native species such as Lobelius maple, mountain, field and hedgehog maples, hornbeam, ash, hazel and numerous other species significant for the feeding of wildlife. The Reserve is home to numerous species of mammals including wild boars, hares, badgers and roe deer, but also birds such as the honey buzzard, the collared nurse and the dove.

12 - Upper Molise

Mountains, small villages rich in history, handicrafts and ancient traditions still alive. This and much more, what Upper Molise offers.

This is exactly where the visitor can do it a leap into history at the time of the Samnites, visiting the elegant temple-theater complex of the precious archaeological area of ​​Pietrabbondante, or reliving the Middle Ages by reaching the beautiful castle of Alessandria di Pescolanciano. In the historic center of Agnone, however, walking through cobbled alleys and streets, you can admire the many works of art preserved in its small churches; and again, discover the secrets of the ancient art of bell casting at the "Giovanni Paolo II" Bell History Museum and the millenary Marinelli Foundry.

Capracotta will do instead the happiness of ski lovers. But in addition to the ski resorts, the structures dedicated to winter sports and the cross-country ski trails, this village of just over 900 inhabitants, in 2015 ended up on all the most important newspapers and TV in the world, for over 256 centimeters of snow fell in about 16 hours. Event thanks to which the small municipality beat the record of 1921 in Colorado!

13 - Larino Amphitheater

The Roman Amphitheater of Larino represents an important testimony of a place of the past destined for public games. The ancient structure could hold about 18.000 spectators and it is assumed that it was built around the st century AD. During the medieval period, that structure it retained an important role as it was used by the local inhabitants themselves as a place to defend themselves. Then, when the Roman Larinum was definitively abandoned, some sectors of the amphitheater were destined for various uses: homes, craft shops and burial places.

The visitor today still manages to observe the typical elliptical shape. The four Gates are still present: North Gate (the gate of the gladiators or the winning beasts), South Gate (the door of the vanquished) West Gate and East Gate (side entrances for spectator access).

14 - Termoli

Awarded several times with the Blue Flag of Europe for the clarity of its sea, Termoli offers tourists equipped beaches and many hotel and sports services.

The ancient village of Termoli is surrounded by high and mighty fortified walls, the cylindrical tower of the ancient Swabian Castle is magnificent, the only surviving one and today the symbol of the city. The Swabian Castle represents themost representative defensive building of the entire Molise coast. It was built in the thirteenth century to ensure the village a secure defense both from the sea and from the mainland. destroyed by the earthquake of 1456, it was then rebuilt with modifications on the basis of new construction techniques and war requirements.

15 - Costa Verde and Tremiti Islands

And after everything just described, Molise also offers the sea! In just 35 km of coastline, the so-called Costa Verde, there are first-rate beaches, both for natural beauty and for the completeness of the services offered to tourists. Sant'Antonio Beach, the best served and therefore most exploited by tourists, is the beach par excellence of the people of Termoli, from where, among other things, the tours to the Tremiti Islands and the ferries to Croatia depart. Immediately south of the center of Termoli there is Rio Vivo, excellent for those who love sailing and water sports in general.

Just 10 km south of Termoli, we find Campomarino, an important center for Longobard and Norman populations, and still today a destinationsought-after tourism and in continuous development. North of Termoli is Marina di Petaccio, which offers wilder beaches rich in dunes and surrounded by pine forests, as well as inhabited by sea birds.

At the north end of the region, on the border with Abruzzo, Marina di Montenero di Bisaccia is a seaside resort with a transparent sea. The beach is sandy and the sea is calm. Ideal for families with children.

Plan your trip: how to get there and where to sleep

The big variety of attractions allows you to organize different thematic itineraries, also to be combined for longer and more varied holidays. If you arrive from far away, the closest and most convenient airport to land is in Pescara (compare flights).

For a seaside holiday Costa Verde is recommended, for example by staying in Campomarino (accommodation from € 67,00 per night). While in winter, for skiing on the slopes of Campitello Matese, there are numerous facilities to choose from in Campitello Matese or Boiano (accommodations from € 49,00 per night)

For an itinerary discovering the castles of Molise, the ideal accommodation could be in Monteroduni (accommodations from € 50,00 per night). Lovers of ancient history instead they can organize an itinerary that touches the main archaeological sites of the region. A strategic accommodation choice can be near Altia Sepino (accommodation from € 67,00 per night) and then join a naturalistic day at the WWF Oasis.

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