If you are looking for a European tourist destination, consider visiting Campobasso, the capital and largest town (only about fifty thousand) of Molise, one of the smallest regions of Italy that only gained regional status in 1963. Campobasso is fairly close to Rome, except for the intervening Appenines Mountains. But if you want to visit Italy and yet be a million miles from Rome culturally, consider touring Campobasso. Be sure to read the companion article describing other sites in Molise.
Before telling you why you should visit Campobasso, let me state one reason that might, but shouldn’t, keep you from visiting; namely the weather. This city is almost one-half mile (700 meters) high, making it one of the coolest towns, weather wise, in the southern half of Italy. It snows a lot in the winter, the summer has an average temperature of approximately 22°C (72°F), and the fall is rainy. Actually, the first two can be quite positive.
You’ll want to see the Castello Monforte, located on the top of the Sant’Antonio Mountain. This castle was built in the mid-Fifteenth Century and rebuilt after earthquakes, the first one occurring a mere six years later. It is perched on a hilltop that dominates the town and you can still see the traces of ancient settlements including Samnite walls that predate the Christian era. Next to the castle you will find the Chiesa della Madonna del Monte (Santa Maria Maggiore Church) first built in the Eleventh Century with its bell tower that was added way back in 1970.
Timeless Campobasso street, Molise, Italy.
You should visit the Cathedral, also called the Chiesa della Santissima Trinità (Church of the Holy Trinity), first built after the turn of the Sixteenth Century outside the city walls and then rebuilt in a Neoclassical style after an earthquake destroyed it some three hundred years later. Other churches that are worth touring include the limestone Romanesque Eleventh Century church of San Bartolomeo and the Fourteenth Century San Leonardo Church (14th century) with a mixture of Gothic, Romanesque, and Apulian elements. The Fifteenth Century Santa Maria della Croce sports a beautiful dome.
The Museo Provinciale Sannitico (Archeology Museum ) recently opened in the Palazzo Mazzarotta. It boasts a fine collection of art and artifacts associated with those pre-Roman Samnites. The recently restored Villa de Capoa is a fine garden with statues and a wide variety of plant species. The town is also home to the University of Molise which serves ten thousand students, some of whom are at satellite campuses.
For some great Italian wine.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten books on computers and the Internet, but to be honest, he would rather just drink fine Italian or other wine, accompanied by the right foods. He teaches classes in computers at an Ontario French-language community college. Visit his website www.travelitalytravel.com devoted to Italian travel with an accent on fine Italian wine and food. Visit his central wine website www.theworldwidewine.com with weekly reviews of $10 wine and columns devoted to various aspects of wine including wine and food, humor, trivia, organic and kosher wine and lots more.
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