Last updated
Città di Agnone
Agnone Molise Italy.jpg
Coat of arms
Location of Agnone
Italy provincial location map 2016.svg
Red pog.svg
Location of Agnone in Italy
Italy Molise location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Agnone (Molise)
Coordinates: 41°48′36″N14°22′44″E / 41.81000°N 14.37889°E / 41.81000; 14.37889
Country Italy
Region Molise
Province Isernia (IS)
  MayorLorenzo Marcovecchio
  Total96 km2 (37 sq mi)
830 m (2,720 ft)
 (31 December 2017) [3]
  Density52/km2 (140/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Agnonesi
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Dialing code 0865
Patron saintSan Cristanziano
Website Official website

Agnone is a comune in the province of Isernia, in the Molise region of southern Italy, some 53 km (33 mi) northwest of Campobasso. Agnone is known for the manufacture of bells by the Marinelli Bell Foundry. The town of Agnone proper is complemented with other populated centers like Fontesambuco, Villa Canale and Rigaini.




The Samnites comprised several distinct tribes in Samnium, a wholly inland district of south central Italy named after them. The Pentri tribe of the Samnites was the most powerful and based in Bovianium, which was a city some 10 km (6 mi) south of present Agnone. Agnone is in the center of important archaeological vestiges of the old Oscan-Samnite civilization and has been called “the Athens of the Sannio” due to the large number of ancient ruins of the Samnite culture. [4] According to tradition, the name of Agnone derives from the old city of Aquilonia that was destroyed by the Romans. [4] The Samnites were soundly defeated by the consuls Carvilius and Lucius Papirius Cursor in 293 B.C. Papirius, after making himself master of Aquilonia, which he burnt to the ground, proceeded to besiege Saepinum, on his way to Bovianum.

The Oscan Tablet in the British Museum. Oscantablet-BM.JPG
The Oscan Tablet in the British Museum.

Agnone also lays claim to the most important ancient document found in Molise, the so-called "Oscan Tablet" (“Tabula Osca”), an inscription written in Oscan on a bronze tablet and dated to the 3rd century BC, now in the British Museum [5] . The small bronze tablet was discovered in 1848 at Fonte di Romito, between Capracotta and Agnone, near the river Sangro. It provides an example of the most southerly dialect of the Samnite language. The tablet speaks of a series of dedications to different deities or holy beings [6]


During the Roman Period, Christianity was spread to Molise. Agnone appears on Roman maps under different regions at various times as Aprutium, Picenum, Sabina et Samnium, Flaminia et Picenum and/or Campania et Samnium. The Roman penchant for building seems to have passed Agnone over as Samnitic architecture still prevailed.


Agnone was an important center during the rule of the Lombards, but then was left decaying in the centuries immediately preceding 1000, while the Verrino Valley and surrounding hills became a place of hermitages, monasteries and small agricultural colonies. In 1139 the powerful Borrello family, supported by soldiers of fortune from Venice, probably originating from colonies Dalmatian of the "Serenissima" took control of Agnone. [7] The importance of Agnone grew during the Angevin and also in the Aragonese reigns to the point that during the reign of the Bourbons of the Two Sicilies, the city was among the 56 royal towns, that reported directly to the King, and was free from any other type of feudal subjection. Joseph Bonaparte decided to create the region Molise, that was to exclude Agnone, but during the reign of Joachim Murat, the elders of Agnone asked and obtained the transition to Molise, basing the request on the geographical difficulties of the links to Abruzzo, and hoping to rise to a new role for the small region. During this period, the natural resources surrounding Agnone impacted its economy where skilled craftsmen produced gold jewelry, copperware, watches, and bells.


Agnone would suffer a significant decline in years following the Unification of Italy in the 1860s. In 1884 the local newspaper L'Aquilonia reviewed the causes of emigration of peasants from Agnone and concluded that the two main factors were excessive taxes on consumers' goods and usurious interest rates that at times surpassed 20 percent in the town. [8] The peasants were arrested for stealing the crops of the galantuomini ("gallant men" or ruling class), and a particularly frequent crime was the illegal cutting of timber on the town commons. In 1863, for example, the authorities actually prosecuted 624 cases of illegal felling of trees.

Consequently, when by the 1870s, owing to improvements in sea travel, a lowering of fares, and the expansive nature of the economies of both the United States and the Rio de la Plata region of southern South America, transatlantic emigration became a viable alternative, the lower classes of Agnone were, out of a sense of desperation, prime candidates. Politically alienated by decades of unfulfilled promises of land reform, mired in endemic poverty, dependent on a rapacious class of galantuomini for what was, by any yardstick, a meager existence, the peasantry was further squeezed by relentless population increase throughout the first seven decades of the 19th century. [9]

World War II to present

When Benito Mussolini's fascist regime came to power, they effectively put a stop to Italy's out migration. During the Fascist era, Agnone was the site of exile for many opponents of the ruling party, including Don Raimondo Viale, protagonist of "The Just Priest" by Nuto Revelli. The Germans sat up a concentration camp in Molise for gypsies where Father Viale tried to help them. The War would finally reach Agnone in December 1943, as the Allied Forces would land on Italy's Adriatic coast and make their way northward and westward to Rome. The 1st Canadian Infantry Division would drive the Germans and Fascists out of Molise, and on 2 and 3 December, the West Nova Scotia Regiment would billet in Agnone during the Ortona offensive. [10]

After the war, Agnone's out migration issues continued, although more for reasons of economic availability. As international emigration declined, southern Italians migrated to industrial northern Italy for more promising economic prospects. [11] Presently, Agnone's population is still declining. As Molise is starting to find recognition as a tourist destination, Agnone is marketing itself on the agritourism market and for its unique Pre-Roman and Medieval architecture. [11]

Main sights

Medieval sights

The town's medieval-style architecture is reflected in its nineteen churches, including the Church of San Marco, with a large Renaissance portal embellished by a copper lion. In the 11th century Odorisio and Gualtiero Borrello introduced the cult of Saint Mark and brought artists from Venice to decorate their homes with Saint Mark's lion. This church is adorned with great artwork including: rich altars, a painting of a Holy Family and Saints by Luca Giordano; an obstensory in gilded copper and enamel, by Giovanni da Agnone, a disciple of Nicola da Guardiagrele. The church of Sant'Antonio Abate has a Romanesque portal and a 17th-century bell tower, and on the vault inside a giant fresco by Francesco Palumbo. Sant'Emidio has a 12th-century portal and rich works of art including wooden painted statues that are taken out on Good Thursday and Friday for a re-enactment of the Last Supper. The church of Corso Garibaldi, is sided by ancient houses with stone lions near the doors (the lion is on Agnone coat of arms), ancient artisans' workshops, Apollonio house and Nuonno house. Church of San Francesco displays a giant round window over the portal, dated 1330. Inside, the Final Judgment on the vault is painted by Gambora.

The Church of San Nicola has a peculiar bell tower coated with yellow and green ceramic tiles. It is due to Agnone's craftsmen and medieval architecture that the town adopted the nickname Città d'Arte (City of Art) which the town uses on a promotional basis. [12]

Pontificia Fonderia Marinelli

The Marinelli Bell Museum. Marinelli Pontifical Foundry.jpg
The Marinelli Bell Museum.

The Pontificia Fonderia Marinelli (the Marinelli Pontifical Foundry) is an ancient factory of bells which has been operating in Agnone for nearly a millennium. It ranks as one of the oldest companies in the world, where the Marinelli family has run the foundry for the last 1000 years.

This factory has a museum, where bells of almost a thousand years of antiquity to more recent others are displayed. It is also possible to observe the artisan process of the manufacturing of bells. The factory was visited by the Pope John Paul II in 1995 as many of the foundry's bells can be found at the Vatican.


Agnone lies on a rocky spear in the mountainous regions of Molise (Alto Molise). Farms and country houses surround the city at elevations varying from 370 m (1,210 ft) above sea level of the Verrino River bed to 1,386 m (4,547 ft) at Monte Castelbarone. The Sangro River also passes by Agnone.

Its geographic position has been described as "the natural capital of the Alto Molise".[ citation needed ] Its territorial extension covers 9,630 hectares (23,800 acres) made up of forests, pastures and agriculture land.

From a geomorphological point of view, the area is affected by several landslides. For example, in January 2003, a huge landslide occurred in the municipality of Agnone causing important damage to infraestructures. [13] [14]


The 'Ndocciata torchlight parade Ndocciata Agnone 2006.JPG
The 'Ndocciata torchlight parade

On Christmas Eve Agnone holds the "Carnevale Agnonese", including the Ndocciata , which is a huge torchlight parade of thousands of handmade, wooden torches made into nine different quarters ("borgate"), accompanied by the sound of bagpipes, to the Piazza Plebiscito where a brotherhood bonfire is lit.

The Fiera delle Arti e Mestieri Antichi (Arts and Antique Crafts Fair) is held 17 to 19 August where a large area of the old town home to artisans, display their works. Artisan's crafts at the fair generally include goldsmiths, tinkers, tanners, wrought-iron, lace and embroidery.

Notable people

Related Research Articles

Molise Region of Italy

Molise is a region of Southern Italy. Until 1963, it formed part of the region of Abruzzi e Molise, alongside the region of Abruzzo. The split, which did not become effective until 1970, makes Molise the youngest region in Italy. Covering 4,438 square kilometres (1,714 sq mi), it is the second smallest region in the country after the Aosta Valley, and has a population of 313,348.

The Osci, were an Italic people of Campania and Latium adiectum during Roman times. They spoke the Oscan language, also spoken by the Samnites of Southern Italy. Although the language of the Samnites was called Oscan, the Samnites were never referred to as Osci, nor were the Osci called Samnites.

Samnite Wars Three wars between the Roman Republic and the Samnites in Central Italy, 343–290 BC

The First, Second, and Third Samnite Wars were fought between the Roman Republic and the Samnites, who lived on a stretch of the Apennine Mountains south of Rome and north of the Lucanians.

Samnium Historical region of southern Italy; part of the Roman Republic/Empire

Samnium is a Latin exonym for a region of Southern Italy anciently inhabited by the Samnites. Their own endonyms were Safinim for the country and Safineis for the people. The language of these endonyms and of the population was the Oscan language. However, not all the Samnites spoke Oscan, and not all the Oscan-speakers lived in Samnium.

The Samnites were an ancient Italic people who lived in Samnium in south-central Italy. They became involved in several wars with the Roman Republic until the 1st century BC.

Province of Campobasso Province of Italy

The province of Campobasso is a province in the Molise region of southern Italy. Its capital is the city of Campobasso.

Osco-Umbrian languages

The Osco-Umbrian, Sabellic or Sabellian languages are a group of Italic languages, the Indo-European languages that were spoken in Central and Southern Italy by the Osco-Umbrians before being replaced by Latin, as the power of Ancient Rome expanded. They developed from the middle of the 1st millennium BC to the early centuries of the 1st millennium AD. The languages are known almost exclusively from inscriptions, principally of Oscan and Umbrian, but there are also some Osco-Umbrian loanwords in Latin.

Battle of Aquilonia

The Battle of Aquilonia was fought in 293 BC between the Roman Republic and the Samnites. The Romans, led by the consul Lucius Papirius Cursor, were victorious.

The Hirpini were an ancient Samnite tribe of Southern Italy. While generally regarded as having been Samnites, sometimes they are treated as a distinct and independent nation. They inhabited the southern portion of Samnium, in the more extensive sense of that name, roughly the area now known as Irpinia from their name—a mountainous region bordering on Basilicata towards the south, on Apulia to the east, and on Campania towards the west. No marked natural boundary separated them from these neighboring nations, but they occupied the lofty masses and groups of the central Apennines, while the plains on each side, and the lower ranges that bounded them, belonged to their more fortunate neighbors. The mountain basin formed by the three tributaries of the Vulturnus —the Tamarus, Calor, and Sabatus, which, with their valleys, unite near Beneventum, surrounded on all sides by lofty and rugged ranges of mountains—is the center and heart of their territory. They occupied the Daunian Mountains to the north, while its more southern portion comprised the upper valley of the Aufidus and the lofty group of mountains where that river takes its rise.

Monteverde, Campania Comune in Campania, Italy

Monteverde is a comune in the province of Avellino in Southern Italy.

Cantalupo nel Sannio Comune in Molise, Italy

Cantalupo nel Sannio is a town and comune in the province of Isernia, in the Molise region of southern Italy.

Frosolone Comune in Molise, Italy

Frosolone is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Isernia in the Italian region Molise, located about 20 kilometres (12 mi) west of Campobasso and about 20 kilometres (12 mi) east of Isernia. Frosolone is known historically for the production of blades, including knives and scissors, and is home to a museum dedicated to the craft.

Pietrabbondante Comune in Molise, Italy

Pietrabbondante is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Isernia in the Italian region Molise, located about 30 kilometres (19 mi) northwest of Campobasso and about 20 kilometres (12 mi) northeast of Isernia.

Poggio Sannita municipality in Molise, Italy

Poggio Sannita is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Isernia in the Italian region Molise, located about 30 kilometres (19 mi) northwest of Campobasso and about 25 kilometres (16 mi) northeast of Isernia. Poggio Sannita is on a promontory surrounded by the Verrino and Sente rivers, both mostly torrential in character, especially the latter, which dries up completely during the summer.


Irpinia is a district of the Apennine Mountains around Avellino, a town in Campania, South Italy, about 50 km east of Naples. It was the territory of the ancient Hirpini tribe; its extent matches approximately today's province of Avellino.

The military campaigns of the Samnite Wars were an important stage in Roman expansion in the Italian Peninsula.


Ndocciata is an ancient Christmas festival celebrated in Molise, southern Italy, specifically in the city of Agnone. On the evening of December 24 the “Ndocciata” of Agnone is a parade of a great number of “‘ndocce” (torches), structures with a typical fanwise shape, made of silver fir pinewood pallets. They may be only one torch or, more often, with multiple torches up to twenty fires. Four metres high, “‘ndocce” are transported by different carriers dressed in traditional costumes. The big bell of St. Anthony’s Church is rung, and groups from the cities’ districts consisting of hundreds of carriers of all ages, light their ndocce (torches) to set off along the main streets which thus becomes what locals call a “river of fire.” There is a choral participation and bagpipers along the roads of the village, and groups compete in order to have the biggest and the most beautiful “‘ndocce”. The procession ends with a bonfire called “Bonfire of Brotherhood” at Plebiscite Square where a Nativity scene is displayed.

Marinelli Bells – Pontifical Bell Foundry is a bell foundry in Agnone, Italy. Founded no later than 1339, the foundry is one of the oldest family businesses in Italy. In addition to bells, it produces bronze portals, bas-reliefs, church artifacts, and bell restorations.

Aquilonia may refer to:

Oscan Tablet

The Oscan Tablet or Agnone Tablet is a bronze inscription written in the Oscan alphabet that dates to the 3rd century BC. It was found near the town of Agnone in Molise, Italy. Since 1873, the original has been kept in the British Museum. It is, along with the Tabula Bantina and the Abellano Boundary Stone from Avella, one of the most important inscriptions extant in the long extinct Oscan language.


  1. "Superficie di Comuni Province e Regioni italiane al 9 ottobre 2011". Istat. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  2. "Agnone". Tuttitalia (in Italian).
  3. "Popolazione Residente al 1° Gennaio 2018". Istat. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  4. 1 2 Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. William Smith, LLD. London. Walton and Maberly, Upper Gower Street and Ivy Lane, Paternoster Row; John Murray, Albemarle Street. 1854.
  5. British Museum Collection
  6. A Critical and Historical Introduction to the Ethnography of ancient Italy, by John William Donaldson, London, John W. Parker and Son, 1852.
  7. Italy, by Dana Facaros, Michael Pauls 2004
  8. Emigration in a south Italian town: an anthropological history. William A. Douglass 1984
  9. Emigration in a south Italian town: an anthropological history . William A. Douglass 1984
  10. Ortona: Canada's Epic World War II Battle By Mark Zuehlke
  11. 1 2 The South Italian Family: a Critique. Journal of Family History 1980; 5; 338 William A. Douglass
  12. The Palladino Family in America: Descendants of Pietrantonio Palladino. Peter August Hoetjes
  13. Del Soldato, M.; Riquelme, A.; Bianchini, S.; Tomàs, R.; Di Martire, D.; De Vita, P.; Moretti, S.; Calcaterra, D. (6 June 2018). "Multisource data integration to investigate one century of evolution for the Agnone landslide (Molise, southern Italy)" (PDF). Landslides. 15 (11): 2113–2128. doi: 10.1007/s10346-018-1015-z . ISSN   1612-510X.
  14. Del Soldato, Matteo; Di Martire, Diego; Bianchini, Silvia; Tomás, Roberto; De Vita, Pantaleone; Ramondini, Massimo; Casagli, Nicola; Calcaterra, Domenico (30 May 2018). "Assessment of landslide-induced damage to structures: the Agnone landslide case study (southern Italy)". Bulletin of Engineering Geology and the Environment. doi: 10.1007/s10064-018-1303-9 . ISSN   1435-9529.