"The rural habitudes of the people of this region are at the basis of their flaws and virtues". This was written in 1941 for the "Giornale d'Italia" the journalist from Molise Francesco Jovine. "The Medieval atmosphere, so domestic and levelled, honest, persevering and so attached to traditions, faithful to the laws of obedience" carries on the author as he traces a real picture of the region, functional not only from a narrative point of view but also a historic summary of the long processes which have marked the history of Molise.
Descendants of the Samnite civilization, the legend on the origins of this region has traces of a Biblical story. It is narrated that the Sabines, after conquering the Umbrae population and for this reason were overcome by the anger of the god Mars, wandered after the footmarks left by an ox, as indicated by the Oracle. The emigrants arrived in Molise, then known as the 'Terra degli Opici (Osci), and here they settled, since the sacred ox had stopped near a hill called Sannio. The land is fertile, rich in water, with abundant meadows in the nearby hilly areas. Boiano was thus founded, in honour of the sacred ox, and famous today for its mozzarella. The Samnites, which according to testimonials were made up of four tribes, Pentri, Caudini, caraceni and Irpines, were not a united state: they were organised in a confederation which constituted a real pain for the Romans. But they were also famous for their vineyards, which created wines whose names today are Samnites.
Three Doc wines, the Biferno, the Molise and the Pentro d'Isernia, and two Igt, the Osco or Terre degli Osci and Rotae. The flourishing of the Molise countries date back to Federico Barbarossa and his nephew Federico II; following the death of the latter in 1250, Corrado IV and Manfredi both continued to fight against the feudal parties until the arrival of the Angevins. The defeat and runaway of Renato of Angiò in 1442 results in the domination by Alfonso, king of Aragon and Sicily. In the same years, due to the Turkish advancement which was devastating the Balkan Peninsula, many families from Dalmatia and from Herzegovina disembarked on the coasts of Molise, settling in the inner lands of Termoli.
The small centres of San Felice and Montemitro, created from these settlements, jealously still maintain traditions and their native language. In the 1600, under the Spaniards, the country of Molise becomes a province of the Reign of Naples but from which the inhabitants of Molise always felt distant both for tradition and history.
In these years the intellectuals of this area try to develop a local conscience, a feeling which becomes stronger with the recognition of the region's autonomy in 1806-11, thanks to Giuseppe Bonaparte and Gioacchino Murat. After the Italian Unity, Molise still has to fight in order to defend its identity from the new state, put in discussion with the aggregation of the region of Abruzzi, which was artificial and without any historical support. In the middle of this political and historical conflict there lies a reality of strong social tension due to the difference between the rural population and the weak middle class. What follows is an agricultural dispute on the control of the lands, the decline of farming and the complete abandon of the mountains: these factors result in the region having the highest number of emigrants after the Second World War.
Between 1946 and 1986 the region is abandoned by more than 260 thousand persons. The first signs of change came in the 70s, when the first industrial settlements, the development of the tourism sector and the low index of crime, create favourable conditions for the development of the region. However the region still maintains other primates: the highest percentage of elderly people living in the region and the lowest percentage of births. The valorisation of the local identity thus leads to other indicators: such as the original gastronomy and the persistence of the values of a farmer's society.
And in the kitchen time seems to go back when you get a taste of the bacon, the Cold-cuts, the typical 'ventricina' and the less famous 'saggicciotto'. At Ferrazzano, 70 km from Campobasso, the famous 'ferrazzanese' can be found, a sausage prepared from pork and seasoned with fennel seeds. At Rionero Sannitico the famous liver sausages are worth a trip which comes to a conclusion at Agnone and Capracotta, mother land of the famous pecorino cheese and the typical 'burrino', the 'scamorza molisana' and the 'caciocavallo'.