Campobasso is a province of Molise that extends over an area of 1,123 sq mi, encompassing 84 municipalities, including Campobasso, the region's capital. To the northeast, it is bordered by the Adriatic Sea, on the north, by Abruzzo, Apulia to its southeast, and Campania in the south (while the Molisan Province of Isernia lies in the west).
Leaving the spine of the Apennine Mountains and passing through the hills, lakes and rivers inland, one reaches the Adriatic coast. Here, a rather varied landscape runs over with villages, towns and cities scattered through its hills and along the cliffs.
The territory is crisscrossed by the valleys of the Rivers Trigno, Biferno, and Fortore: these follow a more or less straight path through the hills and mountains, before widening out abruptly as they approach the sea.
There are two artificial lakes that have become important wetland habitats for both sedentary and migratory birds: Lake Guardialfiera (also know as "del Liscione" after the dam that formed it ) and Lake Occhito.
Campobasso lies at an altitude of almost 2,300 ft, on the slopes of the Southern Apennine hills, and offers splendid views of the region’s evocative landscape.
The city itself is replete with monuments, including Castello Manforte, built around 1450 atop the ruins of a Norman construction, on a hill that dominates the city. The Cathedral was first built in 1504 but reconstructed in the neoclassical style in 1805 following its destruction in an earthquake. Among the many churches are the Romanesque Church of San Bartolomeo; the Church of Sant'Antonio Abate, built in 1572 and displaying a late-Renaissance façade and Baroque interior, embellished with paintings and frescoes by 17th-Century artists; the Church of San Leonardo, dating from the 13th Century; and the Church of San Giorgio, a 12th-Century Gothic construction. The town also houses the delightful Museo del Presepe, a museum displaying a fine collection of antique recreations of the Nativity scene, some dating from the 18th Century.
The province preserves a wealth of archaeological relics, such as the Villaggio di Campomarino, a prehistoric settlement. Many burial grounds dot the Campobasso Province, including the necropolis of Termoli, where the remains of 141 graves are preserved; the Tombs of Guglionesi; the Samnite burial grounds of Gildonea; and the Lombard necropolis of Campochiaro, from the High Middle-Ages.
A burial ground and Hellenic tombs are preserved at Larino, a charming village that has been inhabited since the 5th Century B.C. and therefore site of a wealth of monuments from different eras. Especially remarkable are the Hellenistic domus, the Roman amphitheatre, the Baths, the 14th-Century Gothic Cathedral and its adjacent Tower, the Palazzo Comunale (Municipal Building) and the Church of San Francesco.
In the valley of the River Tammaro lie many fortified centers, such as the Samnite settlement of Monte Vairano, another at Cercemaggiore, and the fortifications of Gildone, Vinchiaturo-Mirabello, Duronia and Terravecchia di Sepino. Sepino is one of the most important zones within Molise's tratturi or transhumance trailways. It also boasts the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Saepinum, including the Forum, the Basilica, Porta Bojano, the Baths, the Theatre, the Cardo and Decumanus, the walls, and its majestic gateway.
Other interesting archaeological sites are Fagifulae-Santa Maria a Faifoli at Montavano; Bojano (Bovianum); Trivento (Terventum); Piano Quadrato and Tufara, site of an important find of coins. Country villas the likes of Morrone del Sannio, Canneto on Trigno, San Martino in Pensilis and San Giacomo degli Schiavoni also abound.
Numerous churches remain from the Middle Ages, all erected between the twelfth and fourteenth century: among them are the Cathedral of Trivento with its splendid crypt, the Church of Santa Maria della Strada in Matrice, the Church of S. George in Petrella Tifernina, the Abbey of S. Mary of Casalpiano in Morrone del Sannio, the Church of Santa Maria a Mare in Campomarino, the Cathedral of Termoli, the Church of Sant'Alfonso of Liguori in Collotorto, the Chapel of the Madonna delle Grazie in Riccia, the Church of San Nicola di Bari and the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Guglionesi, the Convent of Santa Maria della Libera in Cercemaggiore, and the Church of Our Lady of Canneto in Roccavivara.
The territory also boasts many important castles:Castle of Gambatesa, Castello D'Evoli Castropignano, Castello di Tufara, Castello di Torella del Sannio, the Castle of Civitacampomarano, the Tower of Anjou in Colletorto, and the Castle of Riccia in Termoli.
The uncontaminated nature in Molise's mountain environments offers its stunning sceneryto visitors all year-round. The lush forests of the Matese Mountains are the natural habitat for an extraordinary panoply of wildlife, including wolves and rare birds of prey. The territory is the perfect location for mountaineering, trekking and speleology, with a network of caves carved into the limestone that produces a plethora of stalactites, stalagmites, water runs and various natural concretions.
Among the province’s most renowned places is Campitello Matese, part of the Municipality of San Massimo and a leading ski resort with superb courses and modern lifts.
Campobasso boasts two nature reserves, ideal for excursions to discover a wide variety of flora and fauna: the LIPU Oasis in Casacalenda and the WWF Oasis of Guardiaregia-Campochiaro. Also characteristic of the province are are the Tratturi or grassy transhumance trailways treaded by pastors and their herds migrating to Apulia in summertime.
Those who love the seaside will appreciate the 24 miles of Adriatic coastline with its host of resorts set like jewels within the beautiful landscape: Petacciato, Termoli, Montenero di Bisaccia and Campomarino.
All these resorts offer high quality service and every type of accommodation, from hotels to campsites, restaurants and fully-equipped beaches. Ferries are available to the Tremiti Islands, a favored spot, especially for diving enthusiasts.
The typical gastronomy of Campobasso is based on genuine, organic ingredients like zucchini, caciocavallo (cheese) and sausages.
Appetizers include soups made with the legumes grown in the area, such as lentils, pearl barley, and beans, especially fava.
Caponata is the dish that best characterizes Campobasso's cuisine. It is made with wheat (tarallo) dampened with water and vinegar, and flavored with tomatoes, celery, peppers, anchovies, black olives and boiled eggs.
Crioli con le noci is another specialty, dried cod cooked with chopped nuts, as is tacozze e fagioli, homemade pasta sauce with beans and pork rind.
The Province of Campobasso is also home to delicious sausages and cured meats: capocollo or seasoned pork, ciccioli pork rinds, ham, pork sausage, salami, torcinelli (roulade, essentially of the "rest of the pig"), and pork belly.
The area's biodiversity is ideal for producing a variety of mushrooms, among them porcini, field mushrooms and gallinaccio,and of course the precious truffle.
And one cannot forget the delicious cheeses, including caciocavallo, burrino, mozzarella and pecorino. Among the most famous wines are Biferno (white, red and rosé) and Moscato.