Isernia is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 region of Molise
Molise is a region of Southern Italy, the second smallest of the regions. It was formerly part of the region of Abruzzi e Molise and now a separate entity...

, and the capital of Isernia province
Province of Isernia
The Province of Isernia is a province in the Molise region of Italy. Its capital is the city of Isernia....



Situated on a rocky crest rising from 350 m to 475 m between the Carpino
Carpino is a coastal town and comune of the Italian region of Puglia on the Gargano peninsula. Its name is linked to the rebirth of the traditional popular music of Gargano as an artistic value to preserve and study...

 and the Sordo rivers, the plan of Isernia still reflects the ancient layout of the Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 town, with a central wide street, the cardo maximus, still represented by Corso Marcelli, and side streets at right angles on both sides.

The commune of Isernia includes 16 frazioni
A frazione , in Italy, is the name given in administrative law to a type of territorial subdivision of a comune; for other administrative divisions, see municipio, circoscrizione, quartiere...

. The most densely populated is Castelromano which is positioned in a plain at the base of the La Romana mount (862 m), 5 km far from Isernia.


The area of Isernia was settled at least 700,000 years ago: the nearby site called Pineta has been cited in the magazine Science
Science (magazine)
Science was a general science magazine published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science . It was intended to "bridge the distance between science and citizen", aimed at a technically literate audience who may not work professionally in the sciences...

as the most ancient site where traces of use of fire by humans have been found.

The city's Roman name, Aesernia, reflects probably a former Samnite
Samnium is a Latin exonym for a region of south or south and central Italy in Roman times. The name survives in Italian today, but today's territory comprising it is only a small portion of what it once was. The populations of Samnium were called Samnites by the Romans...

 toponym, but a connection to an Indo-European
Proto-Indo-European language
The Proto-Indo-European language is the reconstructed common ancestor of the Indo-European languages, spoken by the Proto-Indo-Europeans...

 root, aeser, which means "water", is tenuous.

Classical Aesernia was a city of Samnium
Samnium is a Latin exonym for a region of south or south and central Italy in Roman times. The name survives in Italian today, but today's territory comprising it is only a small portion of what it once was. The populations of Samnium were called Samnites by the Romans...

, included within the territory of the Pentri
The Pentri were a tribe of the Samnites, and apparently one of the most important of the subdivisions of that nation. Their capital city was Bovianum Undecumanorum The Pentri (Greek: ) were a tribe of the Samnites, and apparently one of the most important of the subdivisions of that nation. Their...

 tribe, situated in the valley of the Vulturnus (modern Volturno
The Volturno is a river in south-central Italy.-Geography:It rises in the Abruzzese central Apennines of Samnium near Rocchetta a Volturno and flows southeast as far as its junction with the Calore River near Caiazzo and runs south as far as Venafro, and then turns southwest, past Capua, to...

), on a small stream flowing into that river, and distant 22 km from Venafrum (modern Venafro
Venafro is a comune in the province of Isernia, region of Molise, Italy. It has a population of around 12,000, having expanded quickly in the post-war period.-Geography:...

). The Itinerary (in which the name is written "Serni") places it on the road from Aufidena to Bovianum
Two cities of ancient Italy were named Bovianum, both in Samnium:* Bovianum Undecumanorum, now Boiano* Bovianum Vetus, a colonia of uncertain location, sometimes , identified with Pietrabbondante...

, at the distance of 28 M.P. from the former, and 18 from the latter; but the former number is corrupt, as are the distances in the Tabula Peutingeriana
Tabula Peutingeriana
The Tabula Peutingeriana is an itinerarium showing the cursus publicus, the road network in the Roman Empire. The original map of which this is a unique copy was last revised in the fourth or early fifth century. It covers Europe, parts of Asia and North Africa...


The first mention of it in history occurs in 295 BCE, at which time it had already fallen into the hands of the Romans, together with the whole valley of the Vulturnus. After the complete subjugation of the Samnites, a colony, with Latin rights (colonia Latina) was settled there by the Romans in 264 BCE the city, a key communication center between southern Italy and the inner Regions. This colony is again mentioned in 209 BCE as one of the eighteen which remained faithful to Rome at the most trying period of the Second Punic War
Second Punic War
The Second Punic War, also referred to as The Hannibalic War and The War Against Hannibal, lasted from 218 to 201 BC and involved combatants in the western and eastern Mediterranean. This was the second major war between Carthage and the Roman Republic, with the participation of the Berbers on...

. During the Social War it adhered to the Roman cause, and was gallantly defended against the Samnite general Vettius Scato, by Marcus Claudius Marcellus
Marcus Claudius Marcellus
Marcus Claudius Marcellus , five times elected as consul of the Roman Republic, was an important Roman military leader during the Gallic War of 225 BC and the Second Punic War...

, nor was it till after a long protracted siege that it was compelled by famine to surrender, 90 BCE. Henceforth it continued in the hands of the confederates; and at a later period of the contest afforded a shelter to the Samnite leader, Gaius Papius Mutilus
Gaius Papius Mutilus
Gaius Papius Mutilus was a Samnite noble who is best known for being the leader of the southern rebels who fought against the army of Rome in the Social War of 91-87 BC .- The Southern Forces Under Gaius Papius :...

, after his defeat by Lucius Cornelius Sulla
Lucius Cornelius Sulla
Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix , known commonly as Sulla, was a Roman general and statesman. He had the rare distinction of holding the office of consul twice, as well as that of dictator...

. It even became for a time, after the successive fall of Corfinium (modern (Corfinio
Corfinio is a comune and town in the Province of L'Aquila in the Abruzzo region of Italy....

) and Bovianum, the headquarters of the Italic League
Italic League
The Italic League or Most Holy League was an international agreement concluded in Venice on the 30 August 1454, stipulated by the Serenissima and the States of Milano and Florence, which follows the Peace of Lodi signed a few months earlier....

. At this time it was evidently a place of importance and a strong fortress, but it was so severely punished for its defection by Sulla after the final defeat of the Samnites in 84 BCE, that Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

 speaks of it as in his time utterly deserted.

We learn, however, that a colony was sent there by Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

, and again by Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

; but apparently with little success, on which account it was recolonized under Nero
Nero , was Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius to become his heir and successor, and succeeded to the throne in 54 following Claudius' death....

. It never, however, enjoyed the rank of a colony, but appears from inscriptions to have been a municipal town of some importance in the time of Trajan
Trajan , was Roman Emperor from 98 to 117 AD. Born into a non-patrician family in the province of Hispania Baetica, in Spain Trajan rose to prominence during the reign of emperor Domitian. Serving as a legatus legionis in Hispania Tarraconensis, in Spain, in 89 Trajan supported the emperor against...

 and the Antonines. To this period belong the remains of an aqueduct
An aqueduct is a water supply or navigable channel constructed to convey water. In modern engineering, the term is used for any system of pipes, ditches, canals, tunnels, and other structures used for this purpose....

 and a fine Roman bridge, still visible; while the lower parts of the modern walls present considerable portions of polygonal construction, which may be assigned either to the ancient Samnite city, or to the first Roman colony. The modern city is still the see of a bishop
Episcopal See
An episcopal see is, in the original sense, the official seat of a bishop. This seat, which is also referred to as the bishop's cathedra, is placed in the bishop's principal church, which is therefore called the bishop's cathedral...

. The massively constructed podium now unlying the cathedral probably supported the Capitolium.

Even after the fall of the Western Roman Empire
Western Roman Empire
The Western Roman Empire was the western half of the Roman Empire after its division by Diocletian in 285; the other half of the Roman Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire, commonly referred to today as the Byzantine Empire....

, Isernia has suffered destruction numerous times in history. Isernia was destroyed by the Saracens in 800, sacked by Markward of Anweiler, Count of Molise, in 1199, and set on fire in 1223 by the soldiers of Frederick II
Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor
Frederick II , was one of the most powerful Holy Roman Emperors of the Middle Ages and head of the House of Hohenstaufen. His political and cultural ambitions, based in Sicily and stretching through Italy to Germany, and even to Jerusalem, were enormous...

. In 1519 it was freed from feudal servitude by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
Charles V was ruler of the Holy Roman Empire from 1519 and, as Charles I, of the Spanish Empire from 1516 until his voluntary retirement and abdication in favor of his younger brother Ferdinand I and his son Philip II in 1556.As...

 and became a city in the Kingdom of Naples
Kingdom of Naples
The Kingdom of Naples, comprising the southern part of the Italian peninsula, was the remainder of the old Kingdom of Sicily after secession of the island of Sicily as a result of the Sicilian Vespers rebellion of 1282. Known to contemporaries as the Kingdom of Sicily, it is dubbed Kingdom of...


Earthquakes in 847, 1349, 1456 and 1805 caused massive destruction.

On the morning of September 10, 1943, during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 planes launched their bombs from B-17 Flying Fortress planes over a crowded town on market day causing thousands of deaths. In the following weeks they came back twelve times without ever hitting their targets: the bridges of Isernia, Cardarelli and Santo Spirito, then built entirely of iron, towards the internal area. All the bridges were vital to the German
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...


In 1970 Isernia became the capital of the homonymous province, created out of part of the province of Campobasso
Province of Campobasso
The Province of Campobasso is a province in the Molise region of Italy. Its capital is the city of Campobasso.It has an area of 2,909 km², and a total population of 230,692...


Pentro di Isernia DOC

The hills around Isernia produces red, white and rose Italian DOC wine. The grapes are limited to harvest
Harvest (wine)
The harvesting of wine grapes is one of the most crucial steps in the process of winemaking. The time of harvest is determined primarily by the ripeness of the grape as measured by sugar, acid and tannin levels with winemakers basing their decision to pick based on the style of wine they wish to...

 yields of 11 tonnes/ha with the finished red and rose wines needing a minimum alcohol level of 11% and the finished whites required to have at least 10.5% alcohol. The reds and roses are composed of 45-55% Montepulciano
Montepulciano (grape)
Montepulciano is a red Italian wine grape variety that is most noted for being the primary grape behind the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita wine Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Colline Teramane and the Denominazione di origine controllata wines of Rosso Conero and Rosso Piceno.It should...

, 45-55% Sangiovese
Sangiovese is a red Italian wine grape variety whose name derives from the Latin sanguis Jovis, "the blood of Jove"...

 and up to 10% local grape varieties to fill out the blend if needed. The whites are composed of 60-70% Trebbiano
Trebbiano is the second most widely planted grape in the world. It gives good yields, but makes undistinguished wine at best. It can be fresh and fruity, but does not keep long. Its high acidity makes it important in Cognac production...

, 30-40% Bombino Bianco
Bombino Bianco
Bombino Bianco is a white Italian wine grape variety planted primarily along Italy's Adriatic coast line, most notably in Apulia. The vine is prone to high yields.-Synonyms:...

 and up to 10% local varieties to fill out the blend if needed.


The coins of Aesernia, which are found only in copper, and have the legend "AISERNINO", belong to the period of the first Roman colony; the style of their execution attests the influence of the neighboring Campania
Campania is a region in southern Italy. The region has a population of around 5.8 million people, making it the second-most-populous region of Italy; its total area of 13,590 km² makes it the most densely populated region in the country...


Main sights

Although having been object of repeated destruction, Isernia preserves a large number of monuments of fairly good archaeological interest. The historical center still keeps intact the spare map structure of the Roman cities: in fact it represents the largest raced Marcelli street, around which there is an infinity of alleys and little spares, as for example, "Trento e Trieste" spares. The famous Fraterna Fountain, the town's main symbol, was built in the 13th century: it is made up of living stone's slabs coming from ruined Roman monuments, while all the rest is a work of local masters, cmomissioned by the Rampini family of Isernia.

Fontana Fraterna

The “Fontana Fraterna” is a refined public fountain with six water jets, with an unusual arcade-shape, made of blocks of calcareous, compact stone. It is built of Roman and Romanesque materials, and has been restored in 1835.

The fountain has articulated into three fillets laid one upon the other. From below, there is a series of smooth fillets (the one on the left is a Roman-epoch and fragmentary epigraph with the letters AE PONT, while in the centre there is a mat decorated with dolphins and a Roman-age flower, probably coming from a sepulchral building), then there is a median fillet with a series of six round arches supported, on the left side, by little circular columns and on the right side, by little octagonal columns.

Above these columns there are some capitals of re-employment. Two capitals have trapezoidal-plant abacus and perhaps adorned a window splay. The higher fillet presents a line of smooth ashlars on which twelve little hanging arches set, supported by little brackets adorned with zoomorphic, phitomorphic and geometric motives. On the bottom of the fountain, on a second level in respect to the arcade, you can distinguish two blocks of Roman age with some swags and a funerary epigraph dedicated to the god Mani. On its right side there is a third high-mediaeval epigraph, situated between two lion statues, referring to the building of a fountain. A deep study of the surfaces allows to verify that the blocks were worked on several occasions, with an extremely long interval, and that come from an undefined number of buildings of the town. Therefore the handiwork represents an interesting abacus of workings, decorative elements, an exemplar of material culture with centuries of town history written on.

La Pineta

Isernia is also known for the archaeological excavation located within its borders, at Isernia La Pineta. Isernia La Pineta contains thousands of bones and stone tools covering 24,000 square yards. It was discovered in 1979, by an amateur naturalist noticed a bone sticking out of the side of a cut that had been created by the construction of the Napoli-Vasto motorway. The site was clearly created by humans, but its purpose is still unknown. The man who lived there was called Homo Aeserniensis.


The largest and most populous rural village (500 inhabitants approx.) close to Isernia is Castelromano, situated in a plateau at the foot of Mount La Romana (882 m) at an altitude of 680 m above sea level, about 5 km west of the city.

The origin of the place is very old. It still has three impressive masonry walls placed to defend a fortified settlement (oppida) and an entrance off about 4 meters still visible where the road surface, dating to the 3rd and 4th centuries BC,
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.