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Molise Panorama Molise is a region of South Central Italy, the second smallest of the regions. It was formerly (until 1963) part of the region of Abruzzi e Molise (with Abruzzo) and now a separate entity. The region covers 4,438 km˛ and has a population of about 300,000.

It borders Abruzzo to the north-west, Lazio to the west, Campania to the south, Puglia to the south-east and the Adriatic Sea to the north-east. Some observers have said that the province is de-populated, but for that very reason it has a charm and an authenticity that has been diluted in other parts of Italy. The landscape consists of broad plains sloping towards the Adriatic. As you move inland the terrain features rolling hills. In the north of the province there are the highlands. The farmland is very rich and the province is distinguished by an almost complete absence of fences of any type.

Many of the towns in the interior have been almost abandoned as young people travel to the larger centres to find employment.

There is a particularly rich cluster of communities in the Larino area. These are the characteristic medieval hilltowns formed around a church, or - as in the case of Larino - a massive cathedral.

The province is sometimes described as "impoverished". In fact a high premium was placed by Molise families on education and an unusual percentage of the population have university degrees. In the wave of emigration to the north these highly qualified "migrants" achieved positions of authority in the established firms of the richer provinces.

The province has escaped the worst excesses of mass tourism and even today there are few English-speaking tourists. Tourism tends to be from the south and west and consists of Italian families seeking less crowded beaches and expatriates returning to find their roots.

Molise is divided into two provinces: Campobasso and Isernia.

Molise ViewMolise was populated for thousands of years. It has a proud heritage. For example the arena in Larino predates Rome's colliseum and the ruins at Sepinum are remarkably well preserved and provide an insight into the sophistication of the Samnite tribes who, along with the Frentani, dominated this region. The Samnite were a hardy race of highlanders who continually bested the Romans in battle. After the fall of the Roman Empire in 476 AD Molise was invaded by the Goths (535 AD) and then by the Lombards in 572, and annexed to the Duchy of Benevento. A very troubled period began with the invasions of the Saracens, that in 860 AD destroyed Isernia, Telese, Alife, Sepino, Boiano and Venafro. By the 10th century there were 9 countdoms: Venafro, Larino, Trivento, Bojano, Isernia, Campomarino, Termoli, Sangro, Pietrabbondante.

In 1095 the most powerful of them, Bojano, came under the rule of the Norman Hugo I of Molhouse, who most probably gave his name to the region; his successor Ugo II was Count of Molise in 1144.

The province enjoyed a resurgence towards the end of the thirteenth century. The cathedral in Larino was built in 1314. The Franciscan monastery, in the same town, was dedicated, along with its rectangular bell tower, in 1312.

In the 16th century Molise was included to the Province of Capitanata (Apulia) and in 1806 became an autonomous Province, included in the Abruzzi region.

In the 19th century there was a general worsening of the economic conditions of the population, and this gave rise, under the newly established Kingdom of Italy (1861), to brigandage and a massive emigration not only abroad but also to more industrial Italian areas.

Alexander Dumas, the writer of The Three Musketeers, and The Man in the Iron Mask, was in Molise at the time of Garibaldi. It was in Molise that he conceived his idea for The Blood Reign, based on a true episode that took place in the town of Larino.

Massive destruction occurred during World War II, until finally the Allied Forces were able to land at Termoli, in September 1943. Huge Allied land forces were based in Campobasso which was called "Maple Leaf City" by the Canadian troops.

Molise is the youngest Italian region, since it was established in 1963, when the region "Abruzzi e Molise" was split into two regions, which, however, retain a common identity both geographically and in their historical and traditional heritage.

Part of the information regarding the history, the art, the traditions and the events about the city of Molise on this page is drawn from respecting the GNU Free Documentation License.