SituationThe region of Molise, one of the poorest and remotest in Italy, lies in the Neapolitan Apennines (Appennino Napolitano) in eastern Central Italy.General informationBounded on the north by the region of Abruzzi, with which it is linked by historical and cultural tradition and with which it was combined until 1963 to form the region of Abruzzi e Molise. Molise extends from the karstic hills of the Monti del Matese (Monte Miletto, 2,050m/6,765ft) in the south- west to the edge of the wide Apulian plain in the east and the Adriatic to the north-east. The inhabitants gain a modest subsistence from arable and pastoral farming.
The principal town in Molise is Campobasso (701m/2,313ft; pop. 50,000), capital of the province of the same name and the see of an archbishop. Above the town are the ruins of the Castello di Montforte (16th century; view). Also of interest is the Romanesque church of San Bartolomeo. The Museo Provinciale Sannitico recently opened in the Palazzo Mazzarotta.
South of Campobasso, near the border with Apulia, is the village of Sepino (698m/2,303ft).
About 3km/2mi north of Sepino are the remains of the old Roman town of Saepinum. Excavations have brought to light a theater, a basilica, the forum, the baths and the town walls with four towers.
The capital of Molise's other province is Isernia (423m/1,396ft; pop. 21,000), also the see of a bishop.
Near Isernia are the excavated remains (uncovered in 1979) of a Palaeolithic settlement over a million years old. The site is open to visitors; fossils, tools and geological specimens are on display in the Museo Nazionale della Pentria.
Abbazia di San Vincenzo
About 20km/13mi northwest of Isernia in the Volturno valley are the ruins of the Abbazia di San Vincenzo, founded about 700 and destroyed by the Saracens in 880. The crypt, with fine frescoes (ninth century), has been preserved.
30km/19mi northeast of Isernia, at Pietrabbondante, are the excavated remains of a Samnite town (theater, temple, etc.).