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The fascinating Italian region that you’ve never heard of

There’s skiing for winter and seafood suppers in seaside towns for summer in the corner of Italy that “doesn’t exist”

The silence of Molise’s Pietrabbondante Amphitheater was so absolute that I could almost hear the crowds that sat there more than two thousand years ago.

After bowing to the 2,500 members of my invisible audience, I turned to see my husband, the only other person in this archeological site that was completed around 95 AD. Such a tranquil visit would be all but impossible at the ruins in Rome or Pompeii.

An absence of other tourists was a recurring theme on our trip to Molise, Italy’s second smallest region, just above Puglia. Despite its historical riches and pristine landscapes, including Pietrabbondante and Saepinum, one of the best-preserved ancient Roman ruins in Italy, it is so unknown that Italians like to joke that “Molise doesn’t exist” (it rhymes in Italian). On hearing this saying, any self-respecting Molisano retorts: “Molise exists and resists!”.

In today’s climate, a lack of visitors is a big plus. This under-the-radar region has become one of the safest choices for Britons eager for an Italian holiday (as of August 8, it had recorded eight cases in the previous seven days; 3 per 100,000). Meanwhile, some lucky travellers have secured a free stay in Molise this summer – in San Giovanni, one of its many picturesque villages.

Molise is also Italy’s youngest region, separated from the nearby Abruzzo in 1970. It doesn’t…

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