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Molise in January: what to see and do in two days.

My birthday was an occasion to go to Molise. Even in January and having just two days there’s always something to see and do. 

An old city on the hill with
One of the towns in Molise.

 

We hardly ever can set off at the time we had planned. It was the same when we were going to Molise. We left Manfredonia on late Saturday morning, so as result we got to Campitello Matese ( Campobasso Province), which was our first stop, after midday and not at 10 am as we had expected. It was nearly lunchtime when we got there and many people were going home or restaurants for their meals. It’s another thing which happens to us regularly: we arrive in a place when other people are leaving. But at least thanks to it we can enjoy a peaceful atmosphere in the sites we’re visiting.

Campitello Matese in Molise is the most important and surely the most popular ski resort in Southern Italy.

Coverer with snow hill and buildings under it with skiers.
Campitello Matese is a popular ski resort.

 

It was pretty busy when we were there, but Campitello Matese is a well-liked destination during all periods of the year. There are some historical attractions to visit, but we didn’t bother ourselves with them. Campitello is located at an altitude of 1,450 meters above sea level and we came there because of the snow.

A small. partly green wood standing at the bottom oh a hill covered with snow.
A hill covered with snow.

 

The weather was sunny and great for a burning calories 3 hour-long walk in deep snow. We made a snowman and enjoyed sledding. (Snow Bob costs 13 euro for 2 h in the afternoon and 15 for the whole day). Even if it’s a ski resort, there is something for everyone who loves winter and snow. There are places to eat, you can just spend a few hours enjoying the view, watching people, or having a walk in the snow. If you go there at the weekend, prepare yourself for the crowd.

The sun was getting down, so we decided to go to Cascate Rio (Waterfall Rio) which is around 25 min far from Campitello Matese.

A man sitting in the bench and looking at a small cascade suroounded by winter trees.
Cascata Rio.

Maybe my jaw didn’t drop because of the waterfall, but I liked it and the environment. The cascade is located in a place that has been adapted to spending a nice time being surrounded by nature.

 Stones covered with moss lying on the banks of a small stream overgrown with dry grass
The waterfall is in a nice surrounding.

 

You can sit on the bench and just admire the waterfall while listening to the calming sound of the water. In spring or summer, you can have a picnic there. I can imagine how nice it must be here at other times of the year.


Our penultimate stop on this day was Castelpetroso (Insernia Province) and b&b Langolo’ Fiorito.

Castelpetroso is famous mainly for religious reasons. Ther’s a look-like palace sanctuary, that is a destination for many pilgrims.

A white church that looks like a palace
The sanctuary.

 

The B&B we stayed in was okay to spend a short time in. Our room was on the ground floor and probably that’s why was a bit cold. The b&b provides the guests with a self-service breakfast, although everything is prepared on the tables. There’s was a choice of pastries (Italian breakfast), water, milk, coffee, tea, etc, so not so bad. The b&b is in an old building, which absolutely has prons such an atmosphere and charm but it has also cons, for example, high stairs. The b&b is not a good option for people with mobility problems. I generally don’t have any, but I have bad knees and the stairs made them a bit painful.
In the evening we had dinner at Donna Carmela restaurant. I’ll write about it soon.

We started Sunday with a quick breakfast and after checking out we headed up to the Cascata del Carpinone  in Carpinone.

Lots of old buildings with red roofs over which a tower rises and a building that looks like a castle
Carpinone.

GPS led us to the town, but when we were trying to find a path to the waterfall, the GPS guided us in hundred different directions so we switched to the traditional way: we just asked the locals for directions. They are usually a better source than Google Maps. The path to the waterfall starts in the town- after crossing the main square you’ll see the sign.
I had forgotten my trekking super-shoes, so I was aware that maybe I won’t be able to get to our destination. I was wearing comfy boots with wee heels. They’re great for a city walk, but not necessarily good for outdoor. But even so, I managed to do the path, however, if you want to visit the waterfall and avoid slipping better wear outdoor shoes.
The first part of the track looks like destroyed stairs or pavement and goes down to the forest.


The path is well marked and secured with metal and string ropes handrails, which made my life easier as I wasn’t sliding down on my butt.

the path in the forest is secured with metal and string ropes
A path to the waterfall.

 

When you get to a small bridge and a crossroad, you can either cross the river and go to another waterfall ( we’ll do this part in spring) or take the left as we did and go to Carpinone waterfall.

A sing 'Cascata Carpino' hanging on a tree
A sign showing  the way to the waterfall.


When we got to the cascade we were the only people there. The place was peaceful and we could only hear the sound of water and some chirping birds.

a small cascade falling between the rocks into the blue water below
Cascata del Carpinone

 

The waterfall ( actually 2) is not high, but beautiful with unbelievable turquoise water in the tank just under it.

2 small cascades falling down into a blue water
A blue water ot the waterfall.

 

And even if greenery is not so green in winter, large stones covered with moss and small plants growing anywhere they want, make this place simply amazing.

In the foreground there is a large stone covered with green plants lying on the shore of a water reservoir with a small waterfall in the background.
Even in winter the place is beautiful.

 

Climbing back, we decided to choose the path leading to the old town.

It was short, pretty steep and we ended up as expected in the historic part of Carpinone. The old town is built over with a beautiful stone house, in many cases sabandoned and slowly turning into ruins.

An old abandoned stone house
The old town is built up with stone houses.

 

I am not sure if the whole Carpinone, maybe just the historical part, shares the fate of many small towns in Italy and becomes a ghost town. People either move to a new of town or leave because and we saw many houses for sale. I love old towns, so for me, it was still beautiful, just a bit sad. It was lunchtime so the streets were almost empty but I doubt the old town bustles with life at any other hour. Ther’s also a beautiful, abandoned, and closed castle.

A caste on the hill
The castle in Carpinone.

 

The panorama of the town with the castle looks great from a distance, it’s a pity that it looks much worse up close.

A panorama of the small old town in Carpinone with old houses and a castle standing on a hill
The panaroma of the old town in Carpinone.

Next we moved to San Vincenzo al Volturo, a historic Benedictine monastery (Abbazia di San Vincenzo al Volturno).

old monastery building standing in the background of ancient brick arches
San Vincenzo al Volturo and its monastery.

 

Well, I wouldn’t say it was a particularly interesting place. The church is just a church, with a few old exhibits on the outside and a dull display on the inside. You can walk around glass display cases and read about the history of the monastery.

The museum's wooden and glass case with visible stairs behind it
A display in the church.

 

Someone who likes this kind of exhibition may find it interesting. I didn’t. However, the view outside the church was amazing.

Ruins of old brick hatches, standing on the grass with two trees at the back and snow-capped mountain peaks visible in the background
The view from the monastery.

The last spot we visited before going back to Manfredonia was Lago di Castel San Vincenzo.

But before going there we decided to have lunch. It was after 2 pm on Sunday and almost everything was closed.  Hungry we stopped by the lake. My first impression was, well, it’s just a lake. Nice one, but nothing really blowing me away.

A lake with a few trees on one side and mountains on the other side, and the sun is reflecting in the water
Lago di Castel San Vincenzo

 

Because on the opposite side we saw some cars and a building, which looked like a restaurant, we decided to go there and eat. There was nothing to eat on the othere side of the lake. There were some people, fat lazy cats  begging for food and an amazing view.

A cat sitting on the grass on the shore of a blue lake.
One of the begging cats.

 

The lake looks natural but is artificial (was built in the 1950s’), is surrounded by woods, and has turquoise water in which the Maindare Mountains are reflected. 

A turquoise lake in which the snowy peaks of the mountains standing on the shore are reflected
A beautiful viev of the lake and the mountains.

Feasted our eyes on the view, but still, with empty stomachs, we drove back to Manfredonia stopped on the way in the only opened restaurant.

In 2018/19 I spent 8 months in Molise working at a school in Termoli.

I did then some trips around, went to Campobasso and a few more places, but I had no idea there were so beautiful spots like these we visited. I think Molise, Basilicata, and Abruzzo are the most underrated regions in Italy, however, I hope they will never become as popular as Tuscany for example, but they probably won’t. They are not for mass tourism, there are not many fancy places and even fancier restaurants/bars/museums, etc. They are for people who love trekking and still wild or partly wild, unpopular spots. So for people like me and I hope, like you.

 

 

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