Agnone is a beautiful town in the little-known region Molise that can be visited on one of the best custom Italy tours. Often called “the town of the bells”, Agnone has fourteen belfries and is home to the world’s oldest bell foundry. The Marinelli Pontificial Foundry has been making church bells for almost a millennia and exporting them across Europe. Ask any local and they will proudly tell you the bell that rang in the third millennium in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome had been made in their town. Papa John Paul II visited Agnone in 1995 to pay homage to the town and its ancient Pontificial Foundry.
The town has ancient origins going back to the pre-Roman era when it was an important centre of the Oscan-Samnite civilization and earned a name “the Athens of the Sannio” due to many ancient ruins located around it. A walk in the historic centre reveals Agnone’s rich history and strong traditions. Narrow windy streets run between impressive Venetian style palaces and tiny artisan workshops where craftsmen have been making gold Venetian filigree since the 11th century. For many centuries local artisan have been making copperware and wrought iron balconies. Keep your head up as you walk to admire the elaborate artistic iron décor on the medieval and more modern palaces.
There are seventeen churches in Agnone and each of them has its treasures. The gothic church of San Francesco has a spectacular belfry decorated with wrought iron cage and beautiful ceiling frescoes. Inside you can visit the Book Museum with an excellent collection of rare medieval manuscripts and old volumes. There is a church of San Nicola, which has a bell tower decorated with yellow and green ceramic tiles. The 14th century chiesa di Sant’Emidio is famous for its large painted wooden statues of twelve apostles.
On Christmas Eve a local carnival is held with a huge torchlight parade accompanied by the sound of bagpipes. In August, all craftsmen from the area come to Agnone for the Arts and Antique Crafts Fair to display their works, enjoy the visit of this unique villages.
Photos by: Proloco Agnone, Leon Reed/Flickr, Aldorindo Tartaglio/Flickr