Isernia, Province of Isernia, Molise
The city is situated on a rocky crest rising from 350 mt to 475 between the Carpino and the Sorsi rivers. Isernia still reflects with its road plan the ancient structure of the Roman town, with a central wide avenue and side streets to the left and right. It is now the Capital city of the province of Isernia, and a flourishing center of pasta makers, stone work, embroidery crafts.
- Altitude: 454 m a.s.l
- Territory: hilly
- Population: about 21000 inhabitants in 2018
- Zip/postal code: 86170
- Dialing Area Code: +39 0865
- Patron Saint: St. Pietro Celestino, celebrated 19 May.
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Frazioni & Localities: Acquazolfa, Castelromano, Bazzoffie, Breccelle, Capruccia, Castagna, Castelromano, Colle Croce Primo, Colle Croce Secondo, Colle de' Cioffi, Colle Martino, Colle Pagano, Collevavuso, Conocchia, Coppolicchio, Cutoni, Fragnete, Marini, Masseria Capruccia, Salietto, Valle Soda, Valgianese.
History - Antiquity
The name of the town come from the italic root "aiser" meaning "god". Aesernia was the capital of the Samnites, and in 263 Rome established a colony here, a key communication center between Southern Italy and the inner Appennine Regions. During the Social Wars against Rome, the Italic League established here their capital after abandoning Corfinio. It was a Roman "municipium" and its inhabitants enjoyed Roman citizenship.
History - the Middle Ages and Modern Times
In 800 it was destroyed by the Saracens, then sacked in 1199 by Marcovaldo, Count of Molise, then set on fire in 1223 by the soldiers of Frederick II. In 1519 it was freed from the feudal servitude by king Charles V and became a free city. Massive destruction was caused by earthquakes in 847, 1349, 1456 and 1805. During the Second World War, in September 1943 air bombings destroyed over half city, killing one third of the population.
- For centuries the production of bobbin lace has been widespread in Isernia (also called the city of lace), with an ivory thread of local production that makes the lace brighter and more elegant. Bobbin lace was probably introduced during the 14th century, by Spanish nuns who were staying in the monastery of Santa Maria delle Monache.
- The Good Friday procession, an old tradition with characters that walk completely hooded with a white cloth (so as not to be recognized), and a crown of thorns on their heads. Many also carry crosses and walk barefoot throughout the procession; the hooded faithful carry the statues of the Mater Dolorosa and Dead Christ.
Events and Festivities
- End of December and beginning of January: the "Maitinate", typical well-wishing songs of the night of San Silvestro, sung around by teams of people of all ages through the alleys, to the sound of traditional instruments, knocking on doors and asking for offers.
- June 28-29: Onion Festival.
What to see
- The Fontana Fraterna, built in the 14th century wit fragments from Roman monuments.
- Majestic Walls, right of the Cathedral, with big square stones, originally an Italic temple of the 3rd century B.C.
- The Stone Memorial, near the townhall, for the victims of the air bombing of 10 september 1943.
- The Museo Comunale, with many pieces from the Roman era.
- The "Terme"", about 4 km outside of the city, spas of sulphurous waters.
- The church of Santa Chiara, rebuilt in 1885, with an original belltower of the 17th century, with a peculiar masonry motive in bricks.
- Cathedral of San Pietro, in the beautiful Piazza Andrea d'Isernia, which enjoys a fine view on the Sangro Valley and the Mainarde. The Cathedral was originally built on the site of a pagan temple, then destroyed by the 1805 earthquake and rebuilt after that in the neoclassical style. The inside is decorated with frescoes by Andrea Trivisonno from Campobasso, and contains a painting of Madonna Via Lucis, transported here by refugees from Rodi in the 16th century. Left of the church there is a massive belltower, built on the remains of a Roman forum, with four Roman statues at the corners.
- The church of San Francesco, with a portal dated 1267, hosts a fine marble altar.
- The sanctuary of Saints Cosma and Damiano, 1 km outside the city, a destination for pilgrims on 26 and 27 September.