The Molise region has a varied territory: it’s mostly mountainous, but hills occupy more than 40% of its while surface. Crossed by the ancient transhumance routes of the Apennine, the tratturi, was inhabited by the ancient Italic people of the Samnites and still nowadays it is possible to visit some important historic sites. Cycling from the Apennine through the Sannio and the Matese Mountains till touching the sea in Termoli, we want to suggest you what to see in Molise during a trip by bike.
It’s one of the first villages in Molise we visited by bike. Not far from the village there’s the spring of the river Trigno that flows then till the sea in the province of Chieti. At the entrance of Vastogirardi, that you reach going up at an altitude of 1200 meters, it is possible to venture along a secondary road on the left towards the sports field. Passed the field, you can continue by bike till the remains of an ancient Italic temple rather abandoned to time. The village has medieval origins and one of its most interesting characteristics is the nucleus of the fortified castle where you go in and out from the same gate.
It surely owes its name to the perched location among huge rocks called Morge. Before entering the village (be prepared to cycle uphill!!!) you meet the evocative Bovianum Vetus, the ancient Hellenistic-Italic site dating back to the 95 B.C. once capital city of the Sannio. Entrance to the site is paid (about 4€) but is something you have to see in Molise because of its beauty, historic, cultural and landscape interest. From the theatre of Bovianum Vetus you have a beautiful view of the Molise where the perched villages dot and characterize the territory. If your legs still have strength go up till the square of Pietrabbondante and then climb among the Morge, cross the small church of Santa Maria Assunta and go up till the cross, the highest point in the village.
Bagnoli del Trigno
From the road abandoning Pietrabbondante losing altitude you spot this suggestive village standing among the rocks to east, suspended between the land and the sky. The origin of Bagnoli di Trigno is linked to some legends which we don’t have any historical foundation of. Picturesque like Pietrabbondante, you have to face a demanding climb to reach the village. Don’t miss a visit to the church of San Silvestro built on the rock, the evocative San Felice Castle and a walk in the streets of the village.
It dominates the surroundings from its promontory above, a rather widespread peculiarity in Molise. The real uniqueness of Duronia can be noted if you look at the village attentively: a strip of thin vegetation, of a different green, seems to cut the mountain culminating right where the village lies, what is it? Duronia lived on the ancient tratturo Lucera – Castel di Sangro traveled every year by millions of sheep that left a remarkable mark on the territory. It’s worth reaching it by bike and visit it.
Tratturo Pescasseroli - Candela
If you travel by mountain bike you have to try the experience of cycling along the ancient tratturo. We were accompanied by Mauro, native from Molise and great connoisseur of the territory. We got covered in mud, got stuck, had fun, we pushed, cycled and sank our tires in the sludge, well, it was an unforgettable ride. The tratturo reaches the ancient, unmissable Roman city of Saepinum.
The Roman Saepinum
It lies on the tratturo Pescasseroli - Candela and keeps some buildings of that time in good conditions. The forum, the basilica, the theatre, the thermal baths and the Decumanus which crossed Saepinum from east to west, take some time and explore it slowly. Arriving by bike is a strong emotion
The source of the river Biferno
The river Biferno, whose source is to be counted among the things to see in Molise, is born at the feet of the Matese Mountains. On the roadside water spouts in a big tank: here you can refill your bottle with fresh water from the spring.
An interesting resort because of its position recalling that of a nativity scene. In Carovilli we really felt at home and we were offered the possibility to know a bit better the Molise region talking with its people about history, culture and tourism. In its surroundings there is Castiglione di Carovilli with the WWF oasis of Collearso, a must-see place for those who love nature.
We reached it traveling almost entirely along secondary roads with the exception of the last part of the route where we couldn’t find an alternative option. Pescolanciano lies on the tratturo Castel di Sangro - Lucera and the ancient communication way is still well visible on the edge of the village even if unluckily isn’t preserved nor promoted. Pescolanciano boasts a nice historical center and a castle.
It lies where the Matese Mountains begin, in the municipality of Bojano. Civita could boast one of the castles of Frederick II that today unluckily is in ruins. Bojano instead has Samnite origins. To reach Civita it’s necessary to climb for a few kilometer.
While recommending what to see in Molise I didn’t linger too much on roads, slopes and other peculiarities of the territory that you’ll be able to know downloading the gps track of our trip by bike, and, soon, reading the story of our experience.
Few culinary suggestions
To get to know and discover a territory visiting it by bike isn’t enough, you have to smell its perfume, taste its typical products, know its people... the people from Molise are a friendly, helpful population, lavish and open, so don’t miss the opportunity to exchange information and opinions. The typical characteristics of Molise are many but those we recommend you to try absolutely are: caciocavallo (famous also that from Vastogirardi), cavatelli, a kind of pasta eaten only with pork meat sauce, bread, so good (ask for bread with potatoes!), Pampanella (I let you find out by yourself what it is) and tasty cold cuts.