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Why Molise?Molise

Molise is the youngest Italian region, since it was established in 1963, when the region "Abruzzi e Molise" was split into two regions, which, however, still today maintain a common identity both geographically and in their historical and traditional heritage. The region is administratively divided into two Provinces, Campobasso, the regional capital, and Isernia, and comprises 136 municipalities, most of them very small, but each unique and worth seeing.

Molise is mostly mountainous and the economy, in the past centuries highly dependent on the transit of shepherds and their flocks from Abruzzo to Apulia, still relies heavily on agriculture and livestock raising, though food and garment industries are undergoing a remarkable development.


The capital of Molise is Campobasso. Isernia is the capital of the respective province.


Molise stands out in the history of the Italian art, thanks to the cycle of ninth-century frescoes of the crypt of San Lorenzo in San Vincenzo al Volturno. This cycle represents, for style and age, a unique event of noteworthy value. The monuments in Romanesque style show traces of the influence of the adjoining Apulia region. The examples of medieval architecture are very interesting. The Baroque style, with Roman and Neapolitan influences, can be seen in the civic palaces.

To see and do

CampobassoIn Campobasso, visitors can admire the historic centre and the majestic battlemented castle of the Longobard period; the Romanesque churches of San Bartolomeo and San Giorgino. The church of Sant Antonino Abate houses the collection of carvings and wooden sculptures of sixteenth-century masters of Molise. About fifteen kilometers from the city, rises the Romanesque Santa Maria della Strada, with the fifteenth-century Gothic sepulchre. In Isernia, the Civic Museum holds Samnitic epigraphs and sculptures; the fourteenth-century Fontana della Fraterna is also very interesting. In Pastena, tourists can admire the monumental Sanctuary of the Addolorata of Castelpetroso, surrounded by a thick forest.


Agriculture is still of considerable importance, though it is an impoverished sector, frequently subsistence farming, and characterized by large numbers of tiny holdings. The most common crops are wheat, broad beans and potatoes. Olives and wine-growing are of a certain importance, as are some vegetables and sunflowers. Livestock is decreasing except for the traditional sheep-farming, while fishing is of little importance, since the only available port is Termoli. Mineral resources consist of the natural gas deposits at Larino. The industrial sector is underdeveloped and there is only one real industrialized area, near Termoli, with engineering, textile, foodstuff, furniture and building materials factories. Elsewhere, firms are small and semi-artisan, operating principally in the textile, woodworking, food processing and building materials sectors. The service sector employs just under half the active population; here the commercial sector, though badly organized and the public sector, which has been expanded since the Region and the Province of Isernia were established (1970), are of particular importance.


On the whole, Molise is the least populated Italian region after the Val d'Aosta, with also a very low average density of population. Apart from the historical difficulties of settling in a territory which is mainly mountainous, this is due to a flow of emigrants abroad and to other Italian regions, a phenomenon which reached a peak at the beginning of the century and in the post-war period, and started to decline to a certain extent only from the 1970s onwards. The population distribution is highest in the areas surrounding Campobasso, the regional capital, and along the Adriatic coast, while the mountainous areas (for example in the Province of Isernia) are almost uninhabited. In the region there are two ethnic minorities: the Molisan Croatians (2,500 people who speak an old dialect of the Croatian-Dalmatian language) and the Molisan Albanians (who speak an old dialect of the Albanian language which is now very different from the Albanian spoken on the other side of the Adriatic Sea). Molisan Albanians are generally of the Orthodox religion.

History of Molise

Molise - Medieval QuarterAfter the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 AD Molise was invaded by the Goths (535 AD) and then by the Languebards (or Lombards) in 572, and annexed to the Dukedom of Benevento. A very troubled period began with the invasions of the Saracens, that in 860 AD destroyed Isernia, Telese, Alife, Sepino, Boiano and Venafro. By the 10th century there were 9 countdoms: Venafro, Larino, Trivento, Bojano, Isernia, Campomarino, Termoli, Sangro, Pietrabbondante.

In 1095 the most powerful of them, Bojano, came under the rule of the Norman Hugo I of Molhouse, who most probably gave his name to the region; his successor Ugo II was Count of Molise in 1144. In the 16th century Molise was included to the Province of Capitanata (Apulia) and in 1806 became an autonomous Province, included in the Abruzzi region.

In the 19th century there was a general worsening of the economic conditions of the population, and this gave rise, under the newly established Kingdom of Italy (1861), to brigandage and a massive emigration not only abroad but also to more industrial Italian areas. A heavy destruction took place in WW2, until finally the Allied Forces were able to land at Termoli, in September 1943.

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