On the hill above Campobasso, the name of the massive Monforte Castle – the top of the list of places to visit to get a feel for the city – recalls the 15th-century mercenary captain Nicola Monforte, who ruled the city with the title of Count at the time of a disastrous earthquake in the middle of the century. It was under his government that reconstruction began, not unlike others did much later. Three and a half centuries later, another military man turned ruler, the King of Naples Gioacchino Murat, initiated the creation of a new Campobasso under the castle: the quarters of what is now known as the Murattiana City.
This is not to put history above tourism, but to explain why visiting the capital of Molise today means getting to know two different realities. Below the castle, one strolls down sloping, narrow, rustic streets or stairways, while in the valley, where public buildings and shops are concentrated, one appreciates the scale of 19th-century blocks and airy green squares.
Yet, they also attract signs of much older civilisations to Campobasso. Just below the castle is the Sannitico Museum – another tourist attraction – which, without being boring, neatly exhibits ambers, ceramics, bronzes, ivories and marbles from prehistoric times to the early Middle Ages of the Longobards, passing through the Samnites and Romanisation. Wandering through the museum's halls makes you want to go and see for yourself the other Molise where these wonders come from, starting with Bojano or the frankly extraordinary Sepino.