Molise (pronounced [moˈliːze]) is a region of Southern Italy. Until 1963, it formed part of the region of Abruzzi e Molise, alongside the region of Abruzzo. The split, which did not become effective until 1970, makes Molise the newest region in Italy. The region covers 4,438 square kilometres (1,714 sq mi) (the Aosta Valley is the only smaller region) and has a population of about 300,000. The region is split into two provinces, named after their respective capitals Isernia and Campobasso. Campobasso also serves as the regional capital.

Isernia, Molise

Isernia, Molise

Isernia is a city situated on a rocky crest rising from 350 m to 475 m between the Carpino and the Sordo rivers, the plan of Isernia still reflects the ancient layout of    the Roman town, with a central wide street, the cardo maximus, still represented by Corso Marcelli, and side streets at right angles on both sides. Isernia preserves a large number of archaeological remains. The historical center still keeps intact the spare map structure of the Roman cities.

There in Molise is a village: Casacalenda… from its hills scans the horizon in search of her children around the world … guardian of their ancestors and traditions…
Nestled among the hills of Molise, between 2 rivers, rises the town of Casacalenda with its narrow alleys called “vicoli” connected by flights of stone steps. The impression of a first-time visitor is the surreal one of walking into the village of a nativity scene. One cannot help but note the cool fresh breezes that gently blow through the village due to its elevated position, facing the Adriatic sea.  It quickly becomes clear why a town was built in this location. The writings of Greek historian Polibios (204-120 B.C.) and of Latin writer Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD.) are the earliest records of the existence of Casacalenda. It seems that in 217 B.C., the Carthaginian general Hannibal had set up camp in the area (the now extinct Gerione) due to its strategic location, so as to keep an eye on the enemy, the Roman army, with whom a great battle ensued. The original name of the town was Kalena which is believed to be of Greek origin meaning “too beautiful”, a description which may be attributed to the town’s privileged location. The name then was transformed to Calenda which may have been derived from the Latin “calendae”, the first day of the month in the Roman calendar when the markets were set up for trade. The ancient coat of arms which shows a “K” can still be seen on the “Porta Capo” the ancient entrance to the walled town.

Casacalenda

Casacalenda

The territory changed hands several times, finally coming under the feudal jurisdiction of the Di Sangro family through marriage. The Di Sangros were feudal lords and Dukes of Casacalenda from 1580-1806 which marked the end of the feudal reign in Italy. The ducal palace still stands in the town’s historical centre. Tragedy hit the village in 1799 when as a consequence of the French revolution Casacalenda was integrated into the Partenopean Republic. Mercenaries sent out by the Duke who resented the liberal government of “Mastrogiurato” (mayor) Domenico De Gennaro, attacked and killed him along with 11 others. The 1800’s marked an era of great growth for the village. A railway system was built to connect it to other major centres. In later years, an interstate road No. 87 which still exists today was designed to cross the heart of the town, bringing to it economic growth. Population and construction were both on the rise. The World Wars instigated an irreversible emigration wave, and today the population of Casacalenda stands at approximately 2,400. In Montreal alone there are 10,000 people of Casacalendese origin who have marked this promised land with their skills, hard labour, resourcefulness, simplicity, strengths and traditions, and who have reason to be proud of their origins.