SURF AND TURF
THE INESTIMABLE BEAUTY OF UPPER MOLISE AND THE MOLISE COASTLINE
villages / history / food & wine
(four days / three nights)
DAY 1 – TERMOLI – SANTA MARIA DEL CANNETO – TRIVENTO – AGNONE
Meeting of participants in Termoli, meeting with the group leader and typical lunch in a restaurant in the historic centre. In the early afternoon – eyes on the sea’s horizon – we will proceed slowly from the imposing Castello Svevo to the most hidden coral heart of the town, in the presence of the Cathedral dedicated to Santa Maria della Purificazione, and down into the hidden, underground Termoli. The walk through the ancient village follows the tangle of alleys, of which a’rejecellane is an imperishable testimony, as well as the walkways around the fortified walls, to the final discovery of the elliptical development of the town intimately facing the sea.
At the end of the visit, we proceed along Valle del Trigno to Santa Maria di Canneto, the smile shrine, a priceless treasure chest of art and faith. We will first stop at the sepulchre of Don Duilio Lemme – the man who made heroic efforts in the Molise region and in the 1930s, providing for the reclamation of this site, otherwise wildly grazed by the river’s waters – and then head inside the austere interiors, divided into three naves, embellished by a remarkable three-arched ambo and interesting bas-reliefs from the 13th century. Devotion to the Madonna del Canneto, located behind the high altar, is strong here. Lastly, adjacent to the Sanctuary is the Villa Rustica – dating back to Roman times, a very ancient testimony located on the right side of the river, a focal point of agricultural activities for the production of oil and wine since the 1st century AD. From Roccavivara, we will ascend to the hill where Trivento – ancient Terventum – stands, dominated first by the Samnites and then by the Romans, fortified and still a stratigraphic expression of successive interventions. And it is here – on the bare stone – that the initiation into Molise hospitality takes place, walking up the 365 steps of the Scalinata di San Nicola to reach the Piano, where the Cattedrale dei Santi Nazario, Celso e Vittore stands out, a treasure trove of art that conceals the exquisite altar by the ‘magnificent’ Giuseppe Bastelli and the extraordinary Cripta di San Casto. At the end of the afternoon, we will arrive in Agnone for a very first reconnaissance and aperitif. Afterwards, we will check-in at the hotel, have dinner and overnight stay.
DAY 2 – PIETRABBONDANTE – VASTOGIRARDI – CAPRACOTTA – PESCOPENNATARO
In the morning, after breakfast, we will leave Agnone behind for the village of Pietrabbondante, for a very first tour of the town, whose medieval layout, perched on a hill 1027 metres above sea level, is extraordinarily set among the limestone boulders of obvious ruggedness . We will reach the Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta – located in the heart of the Sannio region – and then move in the direction of Monte Saraceno and the Santuario Italico di Pietrabbondante, seat of public worship of the Samnite community until the beginning of the 1st century B.C. It stands as an admirable testimony of architecture pertaining to Italic Hellenism. Vestiges of the past have emerged from oblivion in a process that spans the centuries. The monumental theatre was discovered in the 19th century, while the structure of the large temple with three cells on a high podium was identified and brought to light between the 1950s and 1970s. Then, in 2002. it was the turn of the domus publica of the sanctuary and in 2010 a new temple without a podium, the ancient Aerarium, built of unfired earth with a tripartite ground plan. Lastly, in 2016, a sacellum – destroyed in the 5th century A.D. in compliance with Theodosian regulations to close pagan places of worship. At the end of the archaeological tour, we will continue in the direction of the authentic village of Vastogirardi – passing through a protected natural reserve of extraordinary interest – to discover the extraordinary village with its medieval layout, its alleys and stone stairways, dominated by a precious courtyard castle, the 15th-century Chiesa di San Nicola, and the Tempio Italico Santuario Sannitico in Vastogirardi. At the end of the morning, we will enjoy a typical lunch in a restaurant.
In the afternoon, we will continue on to Capracotta – 1,421 metres above sea level, the second highest municipality in the Apennines – whose toponym refers to a popular tradition – which no one wants to deviate from, as specified by architect Franco Valente – according to which some shepherds were keeping their flocks out to pasture, while a goat tried to jump over the fire around which the men were gathered, and was burnt. To this day, the civic coat of arms still refers to the episode of a goat jumping over a fire, although the place name may refer to the probable existence of a castro known as CrapramCoctam – a place of capital importance – which already existed in Norman times, and which saw the subsequent domination of the Lombards, Aragonese, Savoy and finally the annexation to united Italy, according to a very peculiar history, circumstantiated in a mountainous territory, placed in contact with the land and that has known the phenomenon of brigandage, a movement of emigration, the destruction of the ancient that passes through fire and deflagration in dynamite. The walk through the village is aimed at recounting this fascinating history; worthy of note is the Church dedicated to the Assumption and recognised as Collegiata Insigne, which dominates the entire Valle del Sangro. Following the visit, we will enjoy a short tasting session with the possibility of purchasing local specialities. Final transfer in the direction of Pescopennataro – a village located on a large rock – pesclumopeschio – with a pointed shape – pinnata – for a final walk through the village to the Chiesa madre di San Bartolomeo Apostolo and the Church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, located in the new part of the village. All around here, is the exceptional soprano spruce forest, not far from the Eremo di San Luca.. Return to the hotel, dinner and overnight stay.
DAY 3 – ROSELLO – BORRELLO – AGNONE
In the morning – after breakfast – we will head for an unspoilt area on the border between Molise and Abruzzo, in the direction of Borrello, and the spectacular Cascate del Verde waterfalls, with an overhanging viewpoint and an equipped trail that runs through a forest of maple and lime trees, offering at the end a side and bottom perspective of the three waterfalls – 90 / 40 / 30 metres – from which the Rio Verde falls from a limestone wall after a 9-kilometre journey – having originated from the confluence of several water outcrops on the Quarto plateau – between Rosello and Pescopennataro. The Rio flows after several rapids into the Sangro River, less than a kilometre away. The natural spectacle of the waterfalls testifies to an intact and valuable territory to which the Selva dei Giganti, in the heart of the Abetina di Rosello, is an indispensable element. We allude to a 211-hectare nature reserve located along the ridge of the Apennines and consisting of a magical forest of centuries-old silver firs, up to 50 metres high. We pause in the morning to admire a spectacle of unparalleled purity before returning to Agnone. During the guided tour, we will first head to Valle San Lorenzo – on the outskirts of the town – where the remains of the megalithic walls that formed part of the defensive walls of the Samnite settlement can be seen. We will then walk through town at a leisurely pace, freely following the irregular and quite peculiar development of the settlement, which is rich in treasures of unquestionable value.
These include the Chiesa di Sant’Emidio – founded in the 13th century and renovated in the 18th – which has sumptuous Baroque furnishings and houses some archaeological finds, and a priceless, often inaccessible, Library; the Chiesa di Sant’Antonio Abate, with a 12th-century ogival portal and a soaring 17th-century bell tower – with a Last Judgement by Francesco Palumbo inside; the Chiesa di San Francesco – with a façade dating back to the 14th century – rebuilt in the 18th century and embellished with interior frescoes attributed to Paolo Gamba and a 16th-century painting of the Assumption; and the adjoining Palazzo San Francesco, a former convent with a beautiful cloister, with splendid wooden ceilings, home to a permanent exhibition of ancient books – and the Municipal Library and Baldassarre Labanca – where an original cast of the famous Tavola Osca, now in the British Museum in London, is on display. However, Agnone is world-famous for the bells that have been cast here with unparalleled skill for at least a thousand years, thanks to the ability to master metal-working techniques dating back to the ancient Samnites (and which in 1753 led to as many as 10 foundries supplying 14 coppersmith workshops in the town). We will not miss the interesting visit to the Pontificia Fonderia di Campane Marinelli. Return to the hotel, dinner and overnight stay.
DAY 4 – CAMPOBASSO – ORATINO – TERMOLI
After breakfast, early in the morning, we will head for the oldest portion of ‘Campobasso’, a name that certainly contrasts with the town’s elevated position, and which presumably derives from its being flat and low on the hillside, or in reference to the Campus Vassorum, the place where the craftsmen’s houses were located, of a nucleus that later expanded under the Normans as a flourishing county. On our visit, we will first stop at the Museo Sannitico, located in the noble Palazzo Mazzarotta and a priceless expression of the cultural heritage of the Sannio, that historical-geographical region inhabited by the Samnites in what is now Molise, the north-eastern portion of Campania and the south-western part of Abruzzo; then at the Museo Palazzo Pistilli, among Neapolitan majolica ceramics from the 18th century, portraits and paintings that are part of the art collection that Michele Praitano has built up in over fifty years of research in Italy and around the world. The morning will end in the heart of the city, in the presence of ancient buildings: Palazzo San Giorgio, which used to house the municipality, Palazzo Cannavina and Palazzo della Prefettura, then at the Cattedrale della Santissima Trinità. Built at the beginning of the 16th century, it was destroyed by a disastrous earthquake in the 19th century, became a barracks and finally returned to being a cathedral in 1927, after being reopened for worship in 1900 and now closed for major restoration works. Once the visit is over, we will head to Oratino for lunch in a restaurant and a walk around this remarkable stone village, listed among the most beautiful in Italy, built on a limestone cliff overlooking the valley below, lapped by the Biferno river. Worthy of attention are the Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta, the ancient Palazzo Giordano, the Petti and Giuliani Houses and, just outside town, the ancient ruins of the Rocca – a Longobard tower that can be discerned both from the town and along the valley – and the precious Chiesa di Santa Maria di Loreto. At the end of the afternoon, departure for Termoli in time for the return journey.
INDIVIDUAL PARTICIPATION FEE FROM € 480.00
|THE FEE INCLUDES:
PERIOD: ALL YEAR ROUND