There’s a little place I know in Italy where the living is cheap, the food is phenomenal and the scenery is everything you could ever want to experience in an Italian holiday. The New York Times top 52 destinations for 2020 have named it number 37! (Link here)
2-3 hours south-east of Rome and accommodation drops to €65 a night for two including a full and delicious breakfast. That’s me enjoying the B&B garden with the owner’s dog.
Where is this paradise?
Molise is the 2nd least populated region in Italy and it shows. I’m reluctant to speak of it in many ways as it’s ‘unheard of’ status is what protects it. The scenery reminds me of some of the less populated parts of my own country in New Zealand except we don’t have this juggernaut of a history in New Zealand. I love Rome, Florence and Venice but at some stage in my travels I need to breathe again, away from the crowds. I seek an authentic Italian experience. I crave fresh air, and I hanker for reality away from what can feel like the theme parks of the big cities. Molise is very special.
So what is there to do? Well it is abundant in wide open spaces, mountains, rivers, forests and ocean. For me, the coast at Termoli is a highlight with its ferry rides out to the Tremiti Islands. https://howfarishappy.wordpress.com/2018/07/05/tremiti-islands-tears-femminelle/
There is the Marinelli Bell Foundry in Agnone. This is the third oldest family business in the world. Checkout their wiki page. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontificia_Fonderia_Marinelli
For bookings to visit the museum and have a tour: http://campanemarinelli.com/en/
I don’t recall what we paid to enter but it was nominal. We thoroughly enjoyed the tour and wished we could have had longer to browse, the rooms are filled with fascinating bells from the tiny to those the size of a room and many that have a story such as those with a crack or bullet hole. I now have a lovely bell on my bedside table with Mary as the handle.
There is a rich Samnite history in Molise. These folk pre-date the Romans, having roamed these south central regions since hundreds of years BC. They are thought to have been an offshoot of the Sabines. Below are images of the spectacular temple complex at Pietrabbondante. €4 entrance fee. https://www.sitiarcheologiciditalia.it/en/sanctuary-of-pietrabbondante/
See my post for a more detailed look at these people. https://howfarishappy.wordpress.com/2018/07/10/sanniti/
See the man holding up the stone balustrade above his head below. These ruins date back to the 3rd century BC.
Now I know, a stone wall doesn’t do it for everyone but after a bit of research into ancient polygonal construction you may start to find it lights your fire as it now does for me. This is one of my favorite pictures from Italy of all time. The ancient method of stone work is found in some form in Mycenae, India and the acropolis of Athens. It is also found in Molise in Italy! It dates back to possibly the 5-6th century BC.
Within the last few weeks an exceptionally notable event has taken place that has been driven by a committed family in Molise. The tratturi paths have been granted Unesco status. These paths are the transhumance paths that people have used for thousands of years to move livestock from high to low country seasonally.
See my post about my experiences on a 6 day hiking tour of some of these with their beautiful views and vivid history. https://howfarishappy.wordpress.com/2018/06/19/molise-from-the-mountains-to-the-sea/
In the centre of this photo below in green is Carmelina Colantuono. Her family have been the driving force in maintaining this ancient practice, building interest and going through the arduous process of Unesco application. Here is a glossy New York Times article about the family, the transhumance, these tratturi and how blessed we are to still be able to see them. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/16/travel/italy-puglia-molise-cattle-drive.html
A small cowboy.
Here I am meeting the guide, Antonio Meccanici who is a passionate lover of his natural Molise environment. http://www.molisetrekking.com/en/guida-ambientale-escursionistica-molise/
I also got to meet some of the local coppers!
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