Molise – beautiful, pure and undiscovered. Italy’s best-kept secret

This tiny geographical area of Italy really is a hidden gem, like a secret garden of beautiful mountains, fascinating old villages, olive groves, delicious food and an uncrowded coast.

It really is “undiscovered Italy.”

Life here has not changed much in centuries, which makes it a window on the past in many ways. It is unspoiled and largely undiscovered, which means it is perfect for producing superb foods, such as extra virgin olive oil, truffles and honey.

7 Fast Facts about Molise

Population – 312,000 makes Molise the second smallest of Italy’s 20 regions (Lombardy in the north is the biggest with 10 million). The total population of Italy is 60 million.

Area – 4,461 sq. km.  (1,722 sq. miles) is again the second smallest region (Sicily is the biggest at 26,000 sq. km.)

Landscape – the beautiful Apennine Mountains in the western part cover more than half the countryside. Then it rolls down to the sea in the east mostly through a series of large hills. It’s green, with forests and agriculture featuring prominently.

Coastline – 36 km (22 miles) of mostly sandy Adriatic Sea coastline is described as uncrowded tranquil and beautiful.

Young – Molise was officially formed in 1970. Previously it was part of Abruzzi e Molise. The regional capital is Campobasso.

Pace of life – is relaxed and laid back like many rural places. People work very hard but they also know how to appreciate the better things in life – things that are often overlooked in our bustling big cities.

Getting there – Abruzzo International Airport in Pescara is approximately 100 km to the north of Campobasso, or about 175 km (110 miles) by road.

Why Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Molise is something very special!

It’s all to do with the olive farming techniques that have been handed down through generations. Local farmers prefer to keep things organic, which means not using chemical fertilisers or pesticides.

Olive farming is a year-long endeavour that comes to a noisy and colourful climax in the harvest season that runs from late October into December.

Farmers bring their olives to our mill where we extract the pure extra virgin olive oil in carefully controlled environment. The farmers then take away the quantity they need for their families and sell the rest to us for bottling under our Timperio label.

What it means is that the farmers want the very best and healthiest olive oil for themselves and their families. So what you get is the very same superior quality.

Truffles are a big thing in Molise

Molise is the second biggest truffle-producing region in Italy. Many of the rolling green hills that stretch from the Apennine Mountains down to the coast are home to the forests that give us some of the best truffles in the country. They grow around the base of trees and it’s big business here.

Bianco (white) and Nero Preggiato (black) are two local varieties that appear in the winter, while other varieties such as Bianchetto and Scorzone grow in different seasons.

Shavings are a common addition in the local Molise cuisine, often used as a special element of great pasta sauces. Can you imagine having truffles growing all around you and the fantastic dishes you could serve up using them!

Honey from heaven!

The pristine pastures high in the mountains of Molise bring forth masses of wild flowers that bees love. Pure unpolluted air and unspoiled lands mean the best of honey comes from this region. Antonio Mastrogiacomo is a renowned beekeeper from Molise, and you can read his story of Antonio here.

Some mouth-watering features of local Molise cuisine

Local produce includes salami and cheeses but there is much more too. You will find dishes here that are unique to the region, mostly using local-grown produce. Here are just three examples:

Pampanella – is a very popular street food. Pork is marinated, wrapped in vine leaves and oven-cooked with garlic, sweet red pepper, vinegar and salt. It is usually served in a bun.

Baccala arracanato (breaded cod) – is especially popular on Christmas Eve. Part of its secret is that it is cooked directly in the fireplace, in a dish of course, covered over with hot ashes, or in the oven. The fish is cooked with breadcrumbs and any or all of garlic, parsley, oregano, raisins, pine nuts, walnuts, cherry tomatoes and olives.

La Pezzata – meaning “The Pieced”, is another ancient dish from the mountains of Molise where shepherds would occasionally have to butcher a sheep and make the most of the meat, which would be cut into pieces before cooking. It’s usually simmered long and slow so as to make the meat nice and tender, with vegetables such as potatoes and perhaps some spices too.

Discover the best of this totally unspoiled region

By now you may have a sense of what a special and tranquil part of the world we have in Molise. You can share in its bounty and bring a little of it into your home and your family’s table.

Browse the best of Molise in our online shop.

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