We took care of the Molise with a touch and escape in Termoli, but we promised to come back and tell a little ‘time this secluded region, almost entirely mountain, little known even by those who travel to discover the small havens of our doorstep.
In Venafro between history and art
We began to keep our promise by visiting Venafro, one of the most interesting and less known towns in the interior of Molise. On this occasion the Marchesa Dorothy Volpe presented us on a silver platter and invited us to spend a weekend at her elegant Dimora del Prete, one of the best preserved historical buildings of the village, for our first trip with Otto.
According to ancient sources Venafrum was founded by Diomede, but denounced by the name Samnite origin. Certain is its importance due to the fact of being the natural crossroads between the coastal strip and the interior.
If you want to immediately understand the place where you are, we suggest you visit the two symbolic places of the town: the Archaeological Museum, housed in the former convent of Santa Chiara, and the Pandone Castle. They can be visited both with a single cumulative ticket of only 4 euros even at different times; just keep and show the ticket. And, as a traveldog we must stress that, in both locations, they offered to look after Otto to be able to give us all the time necessary to make the visits.
At the museum, inaugurated in 1996, are preserved the finds found in the excavations in the city and in the surrounding areas. In the visit we are accompanied by the well-prepared Giovanni Iannacone who captures all our attention with the descriptions of the art exhibits.
In the cloister there are some funerary inscriptions and material relating to the Venafro aqueduct, including the limestone slab on which the Augustan edict related to its maintenance called “Tavola Acquaria” is engraved.
Upstairs the most prominent elements are the statue of Venus, a copy of one of the most famous of antiquity, the Venus Landolina, found during an excavation in 1958, and two great male figures that at the time of discovery were identified in Augustus and Tiberius.
In the other rooms are exhibited elements of the architectural decoration of the Roman theater and various objects such as oil lamps, small sculptures, pottery and glass pottery.
Among the recovered objects we liked very much two statues: Venus Genitrix, a bust of a poignant beauty, covered by a thin and almost transparent veil, which rather than conceal highlights nipples, slightly prominent belly and pubescent and the other, more small, Igea with the symbol of the sacred snake.
One of the rooms contains the Alessandro Del Prete Collection, donated by the family that owns the magnificent building, Dimora del Prete, which hosts us in Venafro. Stone material from the Imperial age is exhibited here. Very interesting also whas left of a venafrano child of 8000 years ago, found together with objects in flint and obsidian during the excavations for the pipeline, and bone chess considered the oldest in Europe and dating back to the tenth century AD.
Intriguing the theory of a young scientist of which Mr. Iannacone speaks to us according to which the damnatio memoriae that has concealed the features of some statues and made to lose the traces of the noble inhabitants of patrician residences of which remains frescoes and floor mosaics are to be attributed to the desire to remove one of its illustrious citizens from the history of Venafro, Pontius Pilate. This would first be attested by the probable origins of Abruzzo-Molise of the Roman procurator but also by the stars of David that adorn a mosaic of one of the aforementioned palaces.
The last part of the visit is dedicated to the monastic city of San Vincenzo al Volturno, the architect of the wealth and splendor of a medieval abbey, one of the most fascinating, the heart of Benedictine power in Europe. Unfortunately we did not have time to visit this place where two important abbeys have arisen over the centuries, on one side and on the other of the Volturno river, and where there is a real treasure: the crypt of the Epiphanius Bishop, frescoed with beautiful and well-preserved paintings of the ninth century.
We’ll do it next spring, adding other unmissable sites here in Molise like Sepino and Pietrabbondante, as promised to the Marchesa Dorothy Volpe, who invited us to come back to visit her: we and, above all, our Otto catcher little darlings.
Archaeological Museum of Venafro
Via Garibaldi 10
Tel. +39 0865 900742
Days and opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday and holidays from 8 to 19.