A three-hour drive from Rome, tucked between Abruzzo and Puglia along the Adriatic seashore, the Italian region of Molise region is probably one of the country’s best kept secrets.
Molise is the second smallest of the Italian regions and also the youngest, having been established in 1963 when the previous region of ‘Abruzzi e Molise’ was split. The region has a total area of 4,438 square kilometres and a population of about 330,000. There are two provinces: Campobasso and Isernia. The capital of the region is Campobasso.
Molise has a small coastline bordering the Adriatic to the northeast. Termoli is the only major port of Molise and also the largest seaside resort of the region.
The climate of the region is good, with very warm summers and mild winters.
With its impressive range of pristine pastoral landscapes and local delicacies, including high mountain pasture cheeses, traditional pasta, cured-meats and salami, prime wine and olive oil, fruits and seasonal vegetables, this area is ideal for those who are looking for the traditional Italian way of life.
There are beautiful sanctuaries, churches, abbeys, castles, medieval villages and impressive archaeological sites. Because of its mountainous terrain, the economy of the region has for centuries been highly dependent on the transit of shepherds and their flocks from Abruzzo to Puglia, Along the characteristic tratturi (sheep trails). Molise still relies heavily on agriculture and livestock, although its food and “green tourism” industries are undergoing a remarkable development.
Old traditions still thrive in Molise. Religious processions in honour of local Patron Saints and festivities like the famous bull race of the Carrese held in the villages of San Martino, Ururi and Portocannone, or Termoli’s San Basso celebrations, are enjoyed today as they were centuries ago.
Molise is one of the least populated regions of Italy, and much of the population lives in the cities of Campobasso and Isernia; the cost of living is fairly low. There are areas of the countryside which are relatively empty, with some villages only having a few inhabited houses.
Consider Molise — Italy’s best-kept secret — for your next vacation (source: Silvia Marchetti, for CNN)