Location

Montenero Val Cocchiara

Village of just 450 souls, a little gem hidden in the far north of Molise and the National Park of Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise.
From Valcocchiara Retreat you can reach the ancient village with a pleasant 5 minute walk.
Here you can wander among the cobblestones of the old town, admire the beautiful stone houses or eat a pizza in the only tiny trattoria. In the village there is also a pharmacy and some cafès.
Economy is characterized for the horse and cattle farms, activities that combine well with the unpolluted environment and the atmosphere of the places which make it a destination of naturalistic tourism.
Until a few years ago the town was known throughout Italy for a particular event which takes place every year in August: the Pentro Rodeo. A competition which revoked the American West competitions with wild horses (Pentro horse, pertaining to this area) ridden without a saddle in the magnificent setting of the Marsh, now the major tourist attraction of the place.

 

The Pantano

Is a vast prairie surrounded by woods and undergrowth, arranged in such a way to make it seem a sort of “natural amphitheater”. The countryside has a long history, marked by the presence of the ancient transhumance streets but it also withholds a wealth of valuable natural features distinguished by a wide variety of habitat types: prairie, swamp, forest with karst areas and streams. The large size of the area, also connected to the relevant natural and landscape aspects, makes the environment a scenery of exceptional biodiversity made even more fascinating by the presence of hundreds of cattle (cows and horses grazing) bred in the “wild”. It is also a pit stop for migratory birds such as storks, snipes, the royal owl, the hen harrier, gray herons, hawks and falcons. In autumn, the great rains and underground sources will inundate a part in order to form a lake.

History

The area was once inhabited by Pentri, one of the four original Samnite tribes.
The remains of several megalithic polygonal sannitiche protective walls confirm their presence. As well as the discovery of pre-Roman Samnite tombs, ruins of a church and a tower, discovered to the northwest of the “Marsh”, in an old cobblestone street with arched bridges.
With the subsequent Roman colonization, the territory was included in the Alfidena municipium (Castel di Sangro).
The town was originally called “Mons Niger” and is mentioned in the Chronicon Volturnense in 975, a period during which it results to be a feud of the Abbey of San Vincenzo al Volturno. It then belonged to the Borrello (XII-XIII century), then to the Collalto, the Contelmo (XV century) and, in the Aragonese period, the di Sangro. Following various domains, it then reached the Doria.
Around the year 1000 there were two villages in the area, Montenegro and Malacucchiara. The two villages later merged, giving life to today Montenero Val Cocchiara.

What to see

The historic center and the various villages, such as the Colle, characterized by portals, loggias and eighteenth century balconies. Its real charm is the gathered town with its ancient local gray stone walls embracing the parish church of Santa Maria di Loreto. The latter was built in medieval times and remodeled during the Renaissance. The sanctuary has three naves, with an adjoining gallery of remarkable making, multicolored marble altars, a walnut carved choir and the organ, made by Giuseppe De Marino of the Palatine Chapel of Naples. In a crypt there is the relic of San Clemente, brought from Rome in the eighteenth century, taken from the catacombs of San Callisto. Other than a beautiful portal dated 1782, it has an imposing bell tower that seems made to control the entrance to the charming porch that extends towards the south, overlooking the entire town. Of an uncomprehensible inscription, now completely abraded, you can only read the date, 1570, which could refer to some sort of change made to the church at that time. Admire the Palazzo Ducale a rectangular-shaped structure, noble mansion today, with medieval traces in the archway over the access road, and in small cavities located over the same arch. It passed into the hands Aragonese (XV century) after the Angevin builders abandoned it. Until the eighteenth century, it belonged to the Carafa, the Sangro and then the Caracciolo. We recall the rural chapel of S. Ilario, the churches of Santa Maria del Carmine, of St. Nicholas, the chapels of the Assumption, St. Martin, S. Sebastian and St. Anthony Abbot.

 

The Momu – Molino, Museum of Local Rural Tradition. It is an old horizontal blade water mill dated back to the early 800s. The expertly restored wheel and the millstones and the interiors, renovated respecting the original structure, testimonials and rural tools have been collected, artifacts belonging to the farming Molise civilization. The ancient structure once represented a fundamental local gathering place, since thanks to the transformation of cereals to flour, it allowed the people to provide for its own food supply, making it of public use and an important economic and social pole for the town. Today the old water mill is an educational museum with thematic areas other than vernissage art.

Tradition

St. Anthony, protector of animals, is celebrated on January 17th. In his honor, the famous “bonfire” is lit in the main square. The festivities last for a few days and it is a very unique event; in the morning everyone brings their animals to have it blessed by the priest (be it a dog, a pig, a horse, or more!) and in the evening everyone comes with their own grill and cook in the streets on a large common fire.

Saint Clemente, the patron saint of the town, is celebrated during the first weekend of August. Watching the procession with the saint and the festivities in the main square is very evocative, and involves all the people from Montenero. In this village, of approximately 450 regular souls, hundreds of emigrants return to the town from Canada, France or the United States. Do not be surprised, therefore, if during this period will hear people speak French or, at most, the typical local dialect.

How to get there

Valcocchiara Retreat  is located in Montenero Val Cocchiara, in the heart of rural Italy and the Apennines.
To come here is very simple; Naples, Rome or Pescara are no more than a two hour drive.
The Isernia station 20 km away.
Castel di Sangro, small village just 5 km from Montenero, is the nearest town.

By car

From Naples:
Highway A1 direction Roma – exit Caianello. From here continue for about 70 km following signs for Venafro, Castel Di Sangro, Roccaraso. 5 km before Castel di Sangro, immediately before a small level crossing, turn left and follow the signs for “Montenero V.”
After 5 km you will find a cemetery, go up right after following the signs “Church.” Continue to climb until you find a small church in the top right corner. From here follow the “Valcocchiara Retreat” signs if you have 4×4, alternatively call the phone number in the contacts so that you can drive to the other entrance of the hotel with a comfortable indoor garage.

From Rome:
Highway A1 towards Naples – San Vittore exit. From here continue for about 70 km following signs Venafro, Castel Di Sangro, Roccaraso. 5 km before Castel di Sangro, immediately before a small level crossing, turn left and follow the signs for “Montenero V.”
After 5 km you will find a cemetery, go up right after following the signs “Church.” Continue to climb until you find a small church in the top right corner. From here follow the “Valcocchiara Retreat” signs if you have 4×4, alternatively call the phone number in the contacts so that you can drive to the other entrance of the hotel with a comfortable indoor garage.

By bus

In order to reach Castel di Sangro, there is a daily bus service with mixed schedules, “round trip” for Naples, Rome or Pescara.
From there our resort offers free guest pick up and transport.
For more information visit ARPA or Autolinee PSTAR sites.

By plane

Get to the airport of Rome Fiumicino or Naples Capodichino.
From here, either: move by car hire – buses departing from their stations – by resort transportation.

By train

Rome train to Isernia.
From Isernia pickup on behalf of the resort.

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