The second smallest region in Italy (after Valle d’Aosta) at 4,438 km², Molise has several unusual characteristics: its geography is divided almost perfectly between areas of mountain, plain and hills. Mountain ranges create bona-fide physical boundaries with the neighbouring regions: Monti della Meta abuts Abruzzo and Lazio while Monti del Matese extends along the border with Campania. This area has experienced a rebirth in tourism since the early 2000s, thanks mostly to its vast stretches of unspoilt nature. A shooting location since the Fifties, these places are almost never correctly identified as being in Molise.Print itinerary
The very first film shot in the region was an Italian-British co-production, Honeymoon Deferred (Due mogli sono troppe). Having participated in the Allied Italian campaign during WWII, English sergeant David Fry decides to return to Rome and Venice for his honeymoon. However, the couple never make it to Venice, as they board the wrong train in Rome which is headed for Cassino. On the journey, David talks about the events he was involved in during the war, when a series of coincidences took him to the village of Poppi del Sangro where he was welcomed as a liberating hero. On returning to Poppi now, David is warmly welcomed by the Maggini family where he had been billeted. However, the Magginis are stunned when he introduces his wife because they believe him to be married to their daughter Rosina and the father of her baby. The misunderstanding is explained only at the end of the story. The film was shot almost entirely in Colli a Volturno (IS) although the production decided to change the name of the village and use Poppi del Sangro for the story.
Assola was another invented name. This imaginary village straddling the French-Italian border provides the backdrop for another co-production (this time Italo-French) entitled The Law is the Law (La legge è legge). The film starred Fernandel and Totò. Assola does not exist and the film was shot entirely in Venafro during the winter of 1957. The story plays out through misunderstandings and cultural differences, with Fernandel as a customs officer and Totò as a thief along the lines of Cops and Robbers.
The Venafro countryside was transformed into the Far West for Trinity is still my name (Continuavano a chiamarlo Trinità). Although the film makes mention of an area between California and New Orleans, the scenes on the river banks were actually shot in Molise, near the rivers Volturno and Verrino: here the main characters stroll along the shore and in the final scene the wagon carrying a family gets stuck.
Luckily, there are also films that attribute to the landscape its true name. In Like the Wind (Come il Vento), the main character, Armida, director of Lodi prison, comes from Casacalenda (CB), a municipality with the characteristics typical of the region that plays itself in the scenes of her childhood: a place where Armida learnt to love rules and simplicity.
Also set in the region was Don’t Move (Non ti muovere), the film that created the artistic duet Castellitto-Cruz. Timoteo sets off with Italia when she is forced to leave her home and they decide to return to her village in Molise. This is the starting point for a journey that features several areas in the region, including Fossalto, Campobasso, Castropignano where Timoteo decides to eat and spend the night and where Italia is taken ill. While they are on the road, we see Timoteo’s car pass by the archaeological site of Altilia in Sepino. Timoteo makes a desperate attempt to save Italia’s life in Boiano.
A special mention goes to the film Il viaggio (2017) which is not only set in Molise but also focuses on a very special element of the region, the so-called “Little Tran-Siberian”, a railway that connects Carpinone (IS) with Sulmona (AQ) in Abruzzo. The film’s characters cross an unspoilt and magical Molise. Locations included the square in San Pietro Avellana (IS), the Convent of Ripalimosani (CB) and Campobasso, in particular via Insorti d’Ungheria.