Though unbeguiling in itself, inland ISERNIA is a good starting point for exploring the rest of Molise, with good train connections from Rome and Naples. The first settlement dates back to the Samnites, yet very little of old Isernia survives. Earthquakes and wars have wreaked havoc on its historical monuments; much of the centre was destroyed in a bombing raid on September 10, 1943, and a monument to the four thousand who were killed – an anguished nude, ankle-deep in fractured tiles, bricks and gutters – is the centrepiece of the square called, understandably, Piazza X Settembre. In spite of it all, the city has rebuilt its commercial centre so that it’s now comparatively busy and bustling. Isernia’s most iconic monument is the Fontana Fraterna in Piazza Celestino V, a Romanesque fountain built in the thirteenth century by the Rampini family from marble stripped from Roman tombs.

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