Molise is a land to be discovered, rich in natural beauty, art and traditions. The feeling you get from visiting it for the first time is a mixture of awe and wonder. Enchanting landscapes, unspoiled sites, ski resorts and natural reserves make this small region the ideal place to take a break from the chaos of the city. Today we offer you a selection of tourist-archaeological itineraries to be covered in one day by staying in Termoli.
The Roman amphitheater of Larino
Just go 30 km from Termoli to take a dip in the past and find yourself in the presence of the Roman amphitheater of Larino. Built between 80 and 150 ACZ it was traditionally intended for gladiator fights and hunting shows. The structure has the classic elliptical shape in the center of which the quadrangular pit is still visible in which the beasts entered the arena via a mobile platform. The four access doors to the arena are still intact: the North Gate (reserved for gladiators and the winning beasts), the South Gate (that of the defeated), the East Gate and the West Gate (reserved for the public entrance).
The peculiarity of the structure lies in its location: it was built in the middle of an already built urban context. To give space to this imposing structure, the whole urban layout was reorganized. But not only that: due to the difference in level of the terrain, the amphitheater was partly excavated, partly built upwards. It therefore appears as if it were a theater, but with a stone construction typical of the times. The remains of spas, fragments of columns, capitals, sculptures, inscriptions and sumptuous villas with mosaic floors have been found next to the amphitheater. Among the latter, three, are kept in the civic museum of the Palazzo Ducale in Larino and represent: a roaring lion, the legendary scene of the she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus and a naturalistic subject representing vine leaves.
The Samnite theater of Pietrabbondante
In the province of Isernia, about 80 km from Termoli, there is a monumental complex consisting of a theater, a temple and two arcaded buildings. The Pietrabbondante site represents an imposing testimony of the Samnite civilization, capable of projecting visitors into ancient atmospheres. We can thus imagine the religious rituals, which took place in the temple, and the heated disputes of the senators, which took place in the theater. Just the theater, in our times, is the splendid setting for an important international event: the Sannita Teatro Festival, an absolutely unmissable summer event.
The poet Sappho describes the site of Pietrabbondante as "a place of the mind and soul (...) in this holy temple, where there is a lovely wood of apple trees, and burning altars of the scent of incense. Here fresh the water resounds among the branches of the apple trees, and the roses give shade all around ".
The ancient Roman city of Altilia
The archaeological site of Altilia, which is about 94 km from Termoli, is an essential destination for lovers of ancient history. Also known as "little Pompeii", it was an ancient Roman administrative center. Thanks to its strategic position (Apulia to the south, Sannio Pedro to the north, the Adriatic coast to the east and the Tyrrhenian coast to the west) it lent itself well to the control of ancient merchant roads. Access to the archaeological area is possible through four "doors": Porta Boiano, Porta Tammaro, Porta Terravecchia and Porta Benevento.
To delimit the site, a wall built with limestone from the Matese, which encloses an area of 12 hectares with a quadrangular plan. Entering this ancient Roman town (it dates back to the first century after Christ), you come across the ancient theater where the first two sectors of the tiers and the orchestra are still intact. In the summer it often hosts particularly suggestive and exciting theatrical performances. Walking through the ancient center, you immerse yourself in what was once the center of the economic and relational life of Altilia: the macellum (food market), the basilica, the square of the forum with honorary monuments and public buildings, the fountains (particularly striking the Grifo one) and the thermal baths.
Traces of daily life still remain in the ancient residential area: the oil mill, the dry cleaners, the mill, the hydraulic drains of the houses and the drains. In 2010 Altilia obtained the precious "International Blue Shield" award, which takes its name from the symbol indicated in the Hague Convention for the protection of cultural heritage.
National Paleolithic Museum of Isernia
We still move 100 km from Termoli where, in the territory of Isernia, there is one of the main prehistoric archaeological sites worldwide. The museum is located around the archaeological area "La Pineta" where, in the 70s, the remains of ancient Palaeolithic deposits were found, which today allow us to have a clear picture of what habits, lifestyle and camps where the oldest man in Europe lived: homo aeserniensis (homo erectus).
The numerous bone finds found testify that between 700,000 and 500,000 years ago the plain of Isernia was already inhabited by our ancestors. But even more surprisingly, that of Isernia can be considered the first human population in Europe. A discovery so extraordinary as to attract the attention of the scientific world: the American magazine Nature dedicated the cover to the Molise discovery.
The National Paleolithic Museum of Isernia is composed of an exhibition hall and an educational pavilion. In the first there is a large number of restored original finds, bone remains of bison, elephants, rhinos, hippos and bears. The didactic pavilion, on the other hand, consists of a series of itineraries that illustrate the most important stages of human evolution. Among the archaeological sites worth visiting, we also recommend: the castle of Gerione in Casacalenda (42 km from Termoli), the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Canneto in Roccavivara (56 km) and the Abbey of San Vincenzo al Volturno (132 km) . But Molise still offers many surprises, you just have to come and discover them!
Department of Tourism
Via Milano 15 - 86100 Campobasso
Tel 0874 437821/ 437806