Discover a land of traditions – immersed in a community

One of Italy’s smallest, and certainly its youngest province, Molise was once part of Abruzzo. Just above Puglia with 35 kilometers of Adriatic coast, ancient Apennine hill towns, and a wealth of natural beauty, it’s still pretty undiscovered. Those who do come are charmed.

CLV_2212 copia copy.JPGFor centuries shepherds herded their animals along the ancient tratturi from the Apennine hills to the plains of Puglia during the harsh winter months - La Transumanza. It’s a rough and beautiful landscape, where traditional customs and the slow life can be enjoyed, far from tourism. And visitors can practise their Italian – no waiters showing off in English here! The Molisani are proud of their customs, festivals, and natural, seasonal food; artisan cheeses, local truffles, excellent olive oil, unusual wine varieties, grilled meats and the many simple dishes of their cucina povera.

Agnone is a town of artisans. There were once 36 different guilds, a place of wealth and influence. The best copper vessels in all of Italy were forged in 5 foundries along the Verrino river, then hand finished by the master coppersmiths in 171 family workshops. The Museo del Rame recounts their story - http://www.museodelrame.it/                                            

My grandfather’s cousins have been making bells here for over 1000 years. Fonderia Pontificia Marinelli http://campanemarinelli.com/en/ is Europe’s oldest family business, the oldest bell foundry in the world, and the only one by papal appointment. Bells are made by methods unchanged since the middle-ages.

Gold and silver work is also very important to Agnone’s history, the museum in Isernia has a stunning collection of Agnonese jewellery, together with beautiful Molisani costumes, telling a fascinating social history. http://www.musec.is.it/en/

  

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Di Nucci talk.jpgFor 11 generations the Di Nucci family have been making ‘stretched curd’ cheeses – caciocavallo, stracciata, scamorza - with raw unpasteurised milk. Even the methods for making cheese are ancient, the EU giving special compensation to allow use of wooden utensils over the regulation steel. http://www.caseificiodinucci.it/storia_famiglia On a visit to the caseificio, it’s obvious just how passionate the family are about their products and the process by which they are created. This too is art!

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Nearby are the ancient Sannite ruins of Pietrabbondante, (meaning ‘plenty of stones’), a sacred site with two temples and an amphitheatre. With views reaching to Campobasso and the sea, we almost always get to explore all by ourselves This Italic tribe, ancient Rome’s fiercest rival, was eventually defeated, becoming the empire’s bravest warriors http://www.pietrabbondante.com/Teatro/. There’s a small but exceptional museum telling the Sannite story, and that of the origins of Italy - http://www.euromuse.net/it/musei/museum/view-m/museo-sannitico-di-campobasso/content/it/

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One of the best things about Molise is that there are very, very, few foreign tourists so here it is possible to live Italian, speak Italian and eat authentic, simple, and true Italian. For keen travellers to Italy who have seen the famous sites and cities, a chance to discover this little known region and its continuing traditions, and to practise some Italian, is a delight.

Live and Learn Italian offers you study with qualified teachers, while living and engaging with a small community - http://liveandlearnitalian.com/

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