Isernia is set deep in the heart of the Molise countryside; surrounded by rolling hills, meadows and oak tree woods.
Isernia is set deep in the heart of the Molise countryside; surrounded by rolling hills, meadows and oak tree woods. The landscape varies in colour from the gold of the fields of grain, the red of the poppy fields to the green of the woods. Nearby towns and villages make for an interesting visit; there are numerous feudal towns which still retain the atmosphere of a bygone age. The views are breathtaking and there are many ancient sheep tracks once used for Migratory herding. It’s ideal for country walks, trekking and mountain biking.
Isernia is a town rich in history. Founded between 400 and 300BC, the Romans settled here after the subjugation of the Samnites. The town would continue to be attacked by Silla in 84BC, Vandali in the fifth and seventh centuries and by the Saracens. Isernia has Norman, Swabian and Aragon influences. In 1743 Isernia became a royal city and was heavily bombed during the Second World War.
The town today is divided into two parts; the historic centre and the modern quarter.
The old town lies on the hilly ridge by the Carpino and Cavaliere Rivers; the ancient “decumanus” is still evident, from which numerous alleys branch out.
On a visit to the old part one can admire the powerful remains of the “square” work dating from 300BC: the Cyclopean walls. There are also medieval style buildings and defensive turrets.
The most important are:
- the Church of Saint Francesco and Saint Antonio, with its Romanesque gate;
- the Palazzo San Francesco, the town hall;
- Celestino V Square where we can find the Fraterna Fountain, the symbol of the town (dating back to the 13th Century and built using sections of the Ponzia Family mausoleum, the church of Concezione and the Civic Museum of History and Remembrance;
- the Cathedral of Saint Peter, built on the foundations of a Roman temple itself constructed on top of a structure from the Italic period (300BC); from inside the church, thanks to a special glass floor, we can see the various layers of the remains which date from the early to mid medieval period; the adjacent 300-year-old bell tower still has its wide opening with pointed arch;
- the church of Saint Chiara;
- the remains of the church of Saint Maria delle Monache (16th Century), which still has its colonnade featuring Roman capitals; next door, where the monastery used to be, there is an Archaeological Museum, which houses important finds from various historical periods;
- Piazzetta Saint’Angelo, with its stone fountain;
- the church of Saint Pietro Celestino;
- the Hermitage of Saints Cosma and Damiano, just on the outskirts of the historic centre;
- the Excavations and the Paleolithic Museum; the settlement of Homo Aeserniensis, discovered in 1979 at an area called La Pineta, is one of the oldest prehistoric sites in Europe, dating back 730,000 years; It is one of the rare examples known in Europe of a field settlement with structures used as human dwellings; inside the museum, visitors follow a route which takes them around the exhibits explaining the various findings. There is even a reconstruction of a dwelling from that period.