The region of Molise is located in Central Italy, born from the detachment from Abruzzo in 1963. The territory is divided by mountains (55%) and hills (45%), and to the north-east the region has a short coast tract on the Mar Adriatico.
The region has always been a transition land, for herds or for armies or travellers. Its high mountains have been looked at since the ancient times as natural defenses and refuges. The castles, fortresses and towns built on the mountains are proof of a fiercely fought history.
The panorama that this heart of Italy offers is composed by high mountains with rounded profiles which merge with the rocks. Rocks that appear everywhere, in the cultivated plains or in the green pastures. The coast is very short, just 30km long, and is a zone of plains except for the area of the Termoli cliff, where a bridge has been built connectiong the Isole Tremiti and Croatia.
During the course of history, the Molise has been first a Sannitic land, then together with Abruzzo it became a Roman region. Later on, it was conquered in turn by the Longobardi, the Saracens, the Byzantines, until it ended up in the hands of Federico II. It was then that it took the name of Molise, since among the different feuds with which it was divided, the most powerful one was the one of the "Molise" Counts.
Later in history, there had been an economic and social collapse in the region, which lasted long after the region joined the Kingdom of Italy, when the territory was added to Abruzzo to form one only region.
Only in 1963 did Molise regain its independence, dividing itself from Abruzzo.
Today, Molise is the main producer of the tartufo bianco (white truffle) in Europe. Still, the region keeps producing typical tradition related items like the bagpipes which are produced mainly in Scapoli. The production of bells continued in Agnone, where the Pontificia fonderia Marinelli, the oldest bell factory in the world, is still active.
The name of Campobasso, the region's main town, comes from the fact that the city used to be divided in two parts- Campus de Prata and Campus Bassus, which then kept its name giving it to the entire town. The name has been mentioned for the first time by Adelchi, prince of Benevento, who called it "Campibassi". We can thus assume that the city was already present during the VIII century, using the old Sannite walls as defense.
On the highest part of the town is located the Castello Monforte, built in 1549, which has now been adapted as shrine to the Fallen.
Other neighboring feuds are the Castello di Gambatesa, built in the XII century on the Serrone mount by Riccardo Pietravalle, then transformed into a reisdence by the noble family Capua, where we can still admire the ramparts, the lodge, the frescoes and other internal rooms; the Castello Ducale di Larino, built in feudal times, has been transformed in the XVIII century as residence by the Carafa Dukes. Worth of mention is its courtyards, the lodge, the frescoes, the small theater and the Museo Civico with a collection of Roman mosaics.
To get to know the Sannite civilizatino and the Roman archeological remains, you must visit the centres of Pietrabbondante, close to Isernia and home of an Italic shrine, and b>Sepino, in the province of Campobasso, where there are remains of an ancient Roman city.
An important artistic episode is conserved in the church of S. Vincenzo al Volturno, where a cycle of IX century frescoes remind us of Benedictine miniatures.