If you are looking for a European tourist destination, consider visiting Molise, one of the smallest regions of Italy that only gained regional status in 1963. While you are physically near Rome, this lovely region is culturally a million miles away, in part, but only in part, because of the intervening Appenines Mountains. Be sure to read the companion article on Campobasso, the capital and largest town in Molise.
We will begin our tour in Isernia, at twenty thousand the second largest town in the region. We head to the outskirts to visit some ruins and then go northeast to Larino, and finally north to the resort town of Termoli on the Adriatic Sea.
Start your tour by visiting Isernia’s historic center whose central attraction is the Thirteenth Century Fraterna Fountain built from Roman and Romanesque materials and restored in 1835. Take your time examining this beautiful fountain; there are many beautiful details. Then visit the Museo Nazionale della Pentria with a great collection of fossils, tool, and geological specimens from the nearby Palaeolithic settlement which is more than a million years old. You can visit the site itself, known as the Isernia La Pineta which was discovered in 1979 by an amateur naturalist during the construction of a highway. I said it before; I’ll say it again, where else but in Italy? To view some much more recent ruins, head about 13 miles (20 kilometers) northwest of Isernia into the Volturno valley to the Abbazia di San Vincenzo, founded about 700 and destroyed by the Saracens in 880. There is a crypt and some frescoes.
The Adriatic Sea at Termoli, Molise, Italy.
Larino is home to a Roman amphitheatre dating back to the First Century. This edifice could seat 12,000 spectators. Larino also boasts a Fontana Nuova (New Fountain, or Saint Pardo's fountain), but don’t be disappointed, repairs are in order. Larino’s Eleventh-Twelfth Century Duomo (Cathedral), inaugurated in 1319, is often considered to be one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in Italy. You’ll also want to see the Galuppi Tower (1312) across from the Cathedral. The Palazzo Ducale (Ducal Palace) probably started out as a Norman castle. It is now the seat of municipal government but you can still get the feel of the old castle. If you are visiting in May, enjoy the mid-May Feast of San Primiano, with a procession of children and the Sagra di San Pardo, with a parade of decorated wagons drawn by oxen towards the end of the month.
Then historic old town of Termoli is a well-restored, walled community jutting out into the sea. Its central square boasts an Apulian Romanesque Twelfth-Thirteenth Century Cathedral dedicated to St. Mary of the Purification. The most recent restoration was terminated in 1969, returning the structure to its initial appearance. You’ll also want to see the Norman Castle, which helped defend the city over the centuries. The beaches are fine and Termoli’s walkway now includes palm trees. Most of the visitors are Italian, often from further south. The Kimera Film Festival takes place in May.
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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