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CASTELPETROSO sits on the top of a hill at m. 872 s.l.m., straddling two valleys of Boiano and Carpinone. The actual old town can be identified with “Colle Petroso”, name found for the first time in a document of May 9th 964, in which the Prince Pandolfo Capoferro assigns the county’s boundaries of Isernia and delimits the border at East, at Colle Penoso. This to show that at that time the castle, “castrum”, had not yet been built.
The place was later fortified , always in the Lombard period, with the construction of the castle that from the place, full of stones, was named. This is proved by a parchment kept in the archive of Montecassino, dated 1011, in which you can read of the donation of two churches, S.Cristofaro and S. Salvatore, located in the territory of “Castrun Petroso”, to the abbey of Montecassino by the Bishop of Bojano Leone.

Tabula peutingeriana
As you can see, the term “Colle” is replaced with “Castrum”, that in Latin means castle fortress, closed and fortified space. So from Colle Petroso to Castrum Petrosum, to Castelpetroso! Milestone in the history of the town is the domination of the Angevins of Naples. Masciotta writes down that king Carlo the 1st of Angiò gave in feud Castelpetroso to Giovanni D’Angelo, vice deputy executioner of the kingdom. Then assigned by king Carlo the 2nd of Angiò to the supreme jurist Andrea D’ Isernia. The last feudal family has been the “De Rossi”, already known with the forename “Rubens” or “De Rubens” since from the Lombard period. The only evidence of the passage of the De Rossi is the family crest, a shield with a rampant lion, carved on the portal of the castle, which was left abandoned as the family retired to Naples.
About this family, in the Cathedral of Caserta, on the left on entering, there is the tomb of a Bishop of the Archdiocese, Nicola De Rossi, the Marquis of Castelpetroso as can be read on the plaque. Although some historical sources and secure trace the origin of Castelpetroso during the eleventh century, we have reason to believe that there should have been a settlement even in the ancient Samnium.
Discovery of relics and cemeteries have been discovered along the route of Pescasseroli - Candle, which connects the valleys of the Volturno and the Calore.
This natural road has in Guasto of Castelpetroso a very important road junction because here streets fork towards Isernia and Pietrabbondante and, for all the Alto Molise. Colle Castello, is between the fraction of Guasto and the center of Castelpetroso, that overlooks the ramp and allows the control.
On this hill must exist an important necropolis; In fact, in 1955, during the construction of the aqueduct, in the plateau at west of Colle Castle was found a tomb cut in the rock. It is said that during the excavations to plant a vineyard on the slope east of Colle Castello were found tombs slabs with swords, bronze bracelets and vases.
Certainly it’s evidence of the Samnium Pentro that gravitated over the valley of the Volturno and Benevento. A sure testimony is the mug of dough, found at Guasto and presented at the exhibition of Pentri and Frentani at Isernia.
 
  Castelpetroso todey
The old center of Castelpetroso is a clear example of medieval village, with its castle, the imposing parish church, the small squares and alleys. Once a time tree doors had to be crossed to enter in the village: Porta del Parco, still existing, Porta Pistiello and Porta Macchietelle.
Through the buildings there is air of that ancient perfume of healthy living, that typical austerity of the past world. The poet Spensieri writes: “Through the alleys a deep silence, an ancient solitude that, however, they don’t hide an existence and a operating in the sudden streak of a saw coming from a workshop drowned in the walls or in the wavy voice of an anvil: voice that can run as long as it can, in the streets, on the back of the wind that finally disperse it going who knows where”. Castelpetroso is the main town of many fractions: Camere, Casale, Guasto, Indiprete and Pastena. Castelpetroso is a smiling and calm town, where you can spend pleasant hours in a cordial and friendly ambient and where nature is the true protagonist.
   
  The Castle.

The castle stands on a real natural fortress, already used by the Samnites as a military observation point. From the square form it would say of Norman origin, but it was built by the Lombards in the late tenth and early eleventh century, as its first owners were the descendants of the Lombards of Bojano, part of the Duchy of Benevento.
The castle has had a long history of sales, donations and repeated renovations, over the centuries by several owners. The fortress today retains the square shape and part of what had to be the castle’s tower, on the right side; on the ground floor are two large rooms remained unchanged over the centuries.

   
The Museum.

Research laboratory for the protection of “objects of life “
Concerning the “Project of development of the mountain”, our school is contributing, together with the municipality, to the construction of a museum in the castle of Castelpetroso, which stands on top of a hill, set like a precious gem in a medieval and suggestive village almost intact and which was recently renovated. In the museum have been built environments of rural culture and not, by the original antiques objects that the owners have made available. For the installation of the rooms everything was useful: from clothing to working tools, from furniture to old photographs, from the pen to the dinner plate and so on in order to know our roots and to pass them on to future generations.
Us students are still looking for materials by our grandparents, our acquaintances, relatives and friends; we hope that the whole population will help to enrich the collection. Each item will be cataloged with his name and use and indicating the owner, who is still the proprietor. In the museum you can retrace the castle’s history like in a book; items will be its precious pages for everyone to read. Witness’ represent an irreplaceable ring of knowledge and therefore of memory, of the identity of today's society and that of the future generations.
The museum is therefore a real research laboratory and is a place that allows us to link the past to the present, through historical stages. Also the city council has shown great sensitivity to the initiative, which aims to protect the historical place, as its handmade production of the ancient society is almost completely privately owned and belonging to individuals, sometimes exposes objects to dangers and unconscious destructive processes. On the other hand, actually, there are no legislative or regulatory instruments which enable it to subject them to a protection, in the society’s interest .
The target is to research and preserve everything, with a particular attention on systems and objects of artistic production: of the textile manufacture, of the woolly manufactures, those of the iron metal, copper, tin, aluminum and bronze; the precious metals in gold, silver or precious metal alloys, objects of leather, animal bone, leather and allied, animal’s harness. Also everything that concerns the productions, transformations, and the preservation of meat for nutrition of each type and sub products of animal origin for nutrition, dairy products and derived sub products, tools for the productions in all types of wood, for domestic use, production, craft-made and for any other use. It is also recommended conservation systems and objects related to the processing of stone for construction or artistic or other use.
In the museum we try to bring many other objects: the furnishings of private houses, the shops, the factories and public buildings; objects related to agriculture, craftwork and early industrial plants; the clothing and furnishings linked to armed action, including correspondence, honors, awards, medals, and more else regarding it; tools connected to photography and filming, including photographs, negatives, photographic plates, printing, machinery, frames and paintings exhibition and anything connected; objects inherent religious vows, songs, prayers, publications and everything more specifically, in the religious sense, it’s addressed to the Marian cult. Will be conserved objects related to printing and similar, old newspapers, pamphlets and books. Will be loCked by key objects pertaining individual or collective games, for adults and for children and musical instruments. Will be under glass emigrants' letters, which represent an inexhaustible source of studies on linguistic, economic, social, political. And the list goes on with strangest and most unexpected objects.

   
Ancient crib of Molise
In one of the rooms of the castle of Castelpetroso, which in the past were used by the gentlemen as stables, it was made an artistic crib of Molise in the sixteenth century style. The shepherds who come to worship the Savior are all dressed in ancient costumes of Molise. The hut is a typical barn with a dry wall and covered with slabs of stone, similar to the houses of Castelpetroso.
Maria and Joseph wear the ancient clothes of the place; also there are tableaux in which the characters wear traditional clothes of the neighboring towns of Castelpetroso. The landscape, of course, is of Molise, with the most beautiful and green landscapes of Molise and in this harmony of nature, in this crib, joins the history of the lands of Molise through the reproduction of its main historical monuments.
   
CASTELPETROSO, Basilica of Our Lady of Sorrow
It was march 22nd 1888 when for the first time Our Lady of Sorrow, with her dead son at her feet, appeared in Castelpetroso to a small local peasant, Fabiana Cicchino, in a crevice of the rock at the feet of Mount Patalecchia (1400 m.). The appearances were repeated, so that the church gave assignment to the Bishop Francesco Palmerini to investigate on the question.
When September 26th of that year the Bishop went on the place to carry out an inspection, he received himself the vision of the Madonna. The notice had such an extraordinary echo that it attracted faithful from all over the world, rushed to drink from the spring that sprung from that crevice, considered miraculous. With the offers of the faithful the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sorrow was built, patron of the region Molise, that is still today place of worship dedicated to the Marian cult.
September 28th 1890 was laid the first stone of the Sanctuary, consecrated only September 21st 1975 by the Bishop Palmerini.
September 21st 2013 the Archbishop Bregantini raised the Sanctuary to the dignity of Minor Basilica.
July 5th 2014 Pope Francis arrives to Castelpetroso and, in front of the Basilica of Our lady of Sorrow, he met thousands of pilgrims arriving from all Italy.
Via Matris: The “Via Matris” is a trial that winds along the mountain that, from the Sanctuary, leads to the places of the Appearances. It’s divided in seven stops. It can be traveled only by foot. On the model of the “Via Crucis”, the Christian piety has identified in the painful life of the Mother seven principal episodes know as the “seven sorrows” of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The path of the “Via Matris” in Castelpetroso, surrounded by a simple and charming nature, was begun and completed in 1947. Thousands are the pilgrims that today walk along the “Via Matris” stopping in prayer in front the artistic sculptures of A. Caetani. At the end of the path appears as if by magic, through the green pines, the place of the Appearances where a bronze sculpture of Urbano Buratti depicting the Virgin Mary.
The place of the appearances is reachable by car thanks to the route for unable.
Holy Masses hours: from Monday to Saturday at 7.00am and 5.00pm. On Sunday at 8.30am – 10.30am -12.00am – 5.00pm – 6.30pm.
For all the activities contact the Secretary of the Basilica: tel. 0865 936110. Services offered: Bar, Toilet, Souvenir Shop.

 
SANTA MARIA DEL MOLISE ( at 3 Km – Direction Campobasso)
Santa Maria del Molise is a small village at the feet of Mount Matese, that reserves to the visitor several surprises: the waters of the river Rio and the small medieval village of Sant’Angelo in Grotte with its precious churches. Getting closer to the center of the town a very attractive zone, because signed from a serious of little water canals, that give origin to the river Rio, one of the principal tributary of the river Biferno, and that probably is on the basis of ancient denomination of the town, called in fact Capo d’Acqua (beginning of water). In the past the water was used for the functioning of a power central and of several mills, one of these has recently been renovated and today represents a nice witness of the past..
 
Sant’Angelo in Grotte
We suggest to the traveler to go over the center of Santa Maria del Molise and to go on, up to the mountain, to reach the hamlet of Sant’Angelo in Grotte, in the past it was the city council’s location, then transferred to the lower valley nearby Santa Maria del Molise. You’ll discover a small medieval village, that is developed along only one thoroughfare that from the ancient belfry-door, reaches an attractive view, in the past occupied by the feudal palace, of whom today we have no track.
We suggest you to visit the church of San Pietro in Vicoli and to enter in the crypt discovered in the first fifties of the last century.
In the panes are represented the seven operas of body mercy, that end with an harmonic view of a medieval town, representing Betlemme , and a flaming head of the Redeemer. After the crypt we suggest you to go down the stair near the belfry of the Sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo. You’ll have in front of you a wonderful view and it will seem to touch the peak of Monte Miletto.
At the end of the stairs, trough precious bronze portal, we suggest to go in the Cave of San Michele, one of the nicest rock church of Molise and one of the most interesting sanctuary of Europe linked to St. Michael’s cult. According to a local tradition it’s in this cave that Saint Michael, crossing a passage in the rock, he reached the famous Sanctuary of Monte Sant’Angelo sul Gargano. .

 
ISERNIA (at 15 km)
First documented Paleolithic settlement of Europe, Samnitic booming town, capital of the Lega italica, roman Municipium, strong opponent against Napoleon’s troops and place of Bourbon reaction in 1860, golden medal at the civil value for the booming suffered during the second world war and even provincial capital: Isernia is a point of reference of the Alto Molise.
At isernia it’s very diffused the particular lace working called Tombolo ( Isernia is called the town of laces). The principal feature of the Tombolo of Isernia is, over the fine workmanship, a type of thread locally produced that makes the manufacture more elegant and shinning. It’s introducing in town is very ancient, probably it was diffused in the XIV century, by Spanish sisters that lived in the Monastery of Santa Maria delle Monache.
With the passing of the time the Tombolo was always less handmade and more industrially. It’s even studied at the local Artist Institute. .
 

Paleolithic site “La Pineta” (exit Isernia S.Spirito)
It’s an archaeological site dating to 700.000 years ago candidate in 2006 to the list of World heritage sites.
The site was casually discovered in 1978 during the building of the Alberto Salinas in may 1979. It’s considered the most important paleoanthropological finding in Europe. The exploration actions have been possible thanks to the building and inauguration, in 1999, of an excavation pavilion, of about 700 mq, that has certainly helped the exploring, allowing also to go on for several months per year. The site retains a reservoir dating from the Paleolithic that has returned a lot of archaeological and paleontological material and it’s considered very important for the reconstruction of the way of life of the Homo Erectus. In the site is present a permanent exposition of several palaeolithic finds coming from the excavations of the site “La Pineta”, from the name of the site that was lived about 736.000 years ago from small men, mediatically defined Homo Aeserniensis. In the ex Convent of Santa Maria delle Monache, structure of early medieval origin built during the eleventh century and settled in the historical center of Isernia.
Very important are the honorary basis of Marcus Nonius and the relief that is inspired from a famous Pompeian mosaic that reproduces the battle of Alessandro Magno. In the right wing, at the ground floor, there are in display the remains of the funerary objects found in the tombs of the necropolis locality Quadrella. From the findings we deduce that the use of the necropolis, situated near Veanfro, embraced a period from the I to the III century after Christ. The men that lived that zone were baptized Homo Aeserniensis.
The 8th of July 2014 a baby’s tooth has been found that, at the moment, represents the oldest human finding in Italy, thanks to the excavations carried out in collaboration between the Superintendency for Cultural Heritage of Molise and the University of Ferrara, with the scientific direction of Carlo Peretto, Professor of the Department of Humanities of Unife. Till today, it’s the oldest finding of child in Italy and, besides being a finding of exceptional importance, it provides a testimony even more certain of man's passage in that area.
Opening time of the site: 9:00am – 7:00pm; ticket’s cost: €2,00, children free, reduced 18-25 years, first Sunday of the month free for all. Closed on Monday.
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Most important monuments of Isernia
La Fontana Fraterna is an elegant public fountain, and also symbol of the city.
It’s also counted in the Encyclopedia Treccani as one of the most beautiful of Italy, with six water jets, by the unusual form of a gallery, made of blocks of limestone compact, is one of the most significant and most important in the city of Isernia. Originally it was situated in the square la Fraterna, opposite the Church of the Immacolata Concezione, but after the bombing of 1943 is was located in Piazza Celestino V, in the heart of the historic city center. The plate with the inscription AE PONT says it belongs to the tomb of Pontius Pilate. These news are of dubious origin but it seems that the same Pilate, when he returned from Galilee, resided between Abruzzo and Molise.
Interesting part of the city of Isernia is undoubtedly the old town, which has retained some of its old character and still is characterized by narrow alleys. Situated in the South-West side of the city, it’s close to the side of two hills, it’s surrounded of two ancient walls and two roads, Via Roma and Via Occidentale, that allow and easy entry. The complete restoration after the earthquake of 1984 has allowed the historic center to return the heart of the city, thanks to the opening of universities and numerous pubs and bars that attract young people in the magical atmosphere of the ancient alleys of the old center. Thursday and Saturday morning there is a typical market. It presents a main course, Corso Marcelli, that joins the two main squares, Piazza Celestino V and Piazza Andrea D’Isernia.
Hear is present the Cathedral of San Pietro Apostolo, the most important religious building in the city of Isernia, the mother church of the diocese of Isernia-Venafro and seat of the parish. The cathedral stands on an ancient italics pagan temple of the third century Before Christ; its present appearance is the result of many interventions, made either after several earthquakes, both as a result of building renovation projects.

Other churches:
The hermitage of the Saints Cosma and Damiano, as the Cathedral, was built on an ancient pagan temple. We have sure notices about its construction since the year 1130.
The Church of Saint Francesco that’s was built in 1222 by Saint Francesco.
The Church of Saint Chiara built in 1275.
The Monastery of Saint Maria delle Monache built around the year 1000, it hosted the nuns of the Benedictine order .In its rooms are present the National Museum (Museo Nazionale), the Municipal Library of Isernia (Biblioteca Municipale) and part of the Paleolithic Museum of Isernia.
The Arc of Saint Pietro is the Bell Tower of the Cathedral, built in 1349 that joins the church with the University’s building.
The Church of Saint Giuseppe Lavoratore built in 1993 in the district of San Lazzaro, the most populated of Isernia.
The Church of Saint Pietro Celestino founded in 1623 with the near Monastery, that was destroyed.
The Church Dell’Immacolata Concezione headquarter of the brotherhood of Saint Pietro.
The Church of Saint Maria Assunta recently built in the new part of the city.
The Parish Sacro Cuore built in 1948 and that includes the monastery of the Capuchin friars.


 
Castel San Vincenzo – exit Isernia Sud ( 40 km, exit Isernia Sud – Colli al Volturno)
It’s the most important town in Molise part of the National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise.
On its territory is located the famous Benedictine Abbey of San Vincenzo al Volturno: the area on which the Abbey was built hosted an settlement of the late Roman period. Between the V and the VI century, among the buildings not in use, a church was built and even a cemetery. By the bombing of the second world war some parts of the ruins and a small church built later suffered many damages. Angelo Pantoni, monk of Montecassino took care for years of the plant of the new monastery. Thanks to him since 1989 San Vincenzo al Volturno gives again hospitality to a community: the Benedictines arrived from the cenoby of Connecticut Regina Laudis.
The land of Castel San Vincenzo, on the south side, preserves plants of old vineyards and olive groves which are no longer cared as the peasant population once did.
The lake of Castel San Vincenzo is an artificial lake created in the late fifties for hydroelectric purposes. The lake occupies a surface of 6,140 Km2 and has useful capacity of 10 million cubic meters. The waters that feed the lake come mainly from the streams of the mountain Spaccata of the near towns of Alfedena and Barrea. The waters of these streams feed the Enel power plants of Pizzone, Rocchetta a Volturno and of Colli al Volturno. Even if artificial, the lake is well organized with the surrounding landscape of mountains and forests. The aquatic fauna consists mainly of salmons. Near the lake, where it’s possible fishing and doing other sports, there is an equipped area for camping and horse riding.

 

The archaeological area of Altilia (at 31 km, direction Benevento)
The archaeological site of Altilia includes the rests of the ancient roman city of Saepinum, founded in 293 B. C., near the place where once stood Terravecchia, samnitic city.
Of this city, that rises on a mountain, only the perimeter of the walls remain. The city of Sepino has a square plant and is surrounded by walls: the perimeter includes a series of towers with a circular plant and four doors open on it, that bears inscriptions that date the construction of the complex to the period between the II and the IV century B.C..
The necropolis was located outside the walls: this comes from several memorial stones and inscriptions. Concerning the whole archaeological area, many buildings have been preserved, belonging to the foundation period, including a kind of laundry and dry cleaning of fabrics and leathers and used in the activities of transhumance. Many are also Roman remains, including the peristyle with columns with Ionic capitals of the Basilica and part of the Macellum, the old food market.
Interesting is also the reconstruction, nearby the necropolis, of two kinds of burials, characterized by the presence of an altar for sacrifices and mound, a sort of chamber entirely covered by the ground and surrounded by stone slabs. The archaeological area of Altilia, houses also the Archaeological Museum of Sepino. The Museum houses several artifacts found in Altilia and particularly in the necropolis, the main part of them date back to imperial period. Among the most particular and curious are to be remembered dices, buckles, pins and a doll.

Opening time of the Civic Archaeological Museum of Sepino: from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 3:00 p.m. to 6:30p.m..


 
Agnone ( 40 K.m., direction Isernia – Venafro) Is the town in the province of Isernia that for royal concession boasts the title of City. The old town is lively and industrious up and down the streets and alleys between palaces and churches with towering stone portals, worked by stonemasons of the nearby Pescopennataro.
The church of Saint Antonio, complex founded in 1128, is close to the city walls near one of the entrances to it, where standing a tall bell tower of the Vanvitellian school. Superbly crafted is the organ, which is one of three historic organs of the city. The ex convent of Saint Francesco built in 1343, now houses the town hall, overlooks Piazza Plebiscito.
The church, a national monument, has an elegant Gothic portal surmounted by a rose window worked well and by a bell tower. Inside they are proudly displayed the carved wooden altar dedicated to Saint Crescenzo and the statue of the Immaculate Conception. The ex convent now a day, house, beyond the town hall, the Permanent Exhibition of Ancient Books, which collects and preserves rare books dating from the '500 all''800.
 

LA'NDOCCIATA: The evening of December 24th in Agnone, at the beat the bell of Saint Antonio, the groups of districts ( Capammonde and Capabballe, Colle Sente, Guastra, Sant'Onofrio, San Quirico) consisting of hundreds of carriers of all ages, dressed in traditional costumes, light up the ‘ndocce (flashlights) to walk along the main street of the country, which thus becomes a gigantic and exciting river of fire. Once in the square it will light a bonfire, around which people gather to bid farewell to the negative there was the year that is about to end and that will symbolically be burned in the fire.
The 'ndocce are big torches made of pine wood and white bundles of dry broom held together by string. They are two to three meters high, and are sometimes joined by transverse poles to form groups that can reach up to twenty torches. Thanks to this event of national fame, in the days of 8th and 24th December, the town of Agnone is stormed by thousands of tourists from all over Italy, curious to witness the peculiar event.

In the center of Agnone is the Pontifical Fonderia Marinelli (Foundry Marinelli), the oldest company of Molise is also the oldest family business in Europe and second in the world, founded in the year 1000. Attached to the foundry, where you can admire the process of working with bronze to become bell, is the Museum of the Bell that collects the most characteristic elements of this handmade product since the year one thousand.
The Pontifical Foundry is the only survivor among the dynasties of the many bell-founders of Agnone that for eight centuries, passed down continuously, from father to son, this ancient art.
Right in the Museum Marinelli it has been preserved a rare example of Gothic bell that is said to have been melted 1,000 years ago, in Agnone. And likely that very large bronze bells were melted in Agnone even before 1200. What is certain is that Nicodemus Marinelli, "Campanarus", melted a bell in 1339 of about 2 tons for a church of Frosinone. Bells of Agnone of refined workmanship, ranging from the fourteenth century onwards, are visible not only at the Museum Marinelli, but on many steeples from which still expand their sound.
Visiting time: 12:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., info and booking: 0865-78235
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Shopping

- Shopping Center “In Piazza”, open every day from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
- exit Isernia Nord - Shopping Center “Le Rampe”, exit Isernia Sud
- Dairy “La Roccolana”, Via Santuario, 0865/936308 Castelpetroso

More:
- Visit to the factory of chocolate at Cioccolato e Confetti Papa-SS 85 Venafrana (direction Rome), Monteroduni (IS)
- The factory of chocolate offers the possibility of guided visits to its plants and laboratories. It’s necessary booking in advance at the following number: 0865-493005
- Visit to the dairy of Di Nucci in Agnone: the family Di Nucci is an ancient family of Capracotta, the highest common of the Italian Apenninnes, land of pastures, cattle, sheep, shepherds and transhumance. It’s possible visiting the dairy calling the number 0865-77288-77116, Via Giovanni Paolo II n. 8, Agnone (IS)
-Bike ride: the agency Top Tour organizes rides with electrical bicycles around the Old Center of Isernia. For info and booking: 0865- 235209 / 0865-9638237.

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