Casacalenda, Province of Campobasso, Molise

Among hills between the Biferno and Cigno rivers, in a landscape covered by woods and olive trees, the little town is still today a mainly agricultural center, and more recently a destination for tourists in search of the serenity of the countryside, the healthy food, the uncontaminated nature. The historical center is a jewel of alleys and narrow flights of steps going down the hills into the countryside.


  • Territory: hills
  • Population: about 2500 inhabitants
  • Zip/postal code: 86043
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 0874
  • Frazioni & Localities: Civitella, Convento Sant'Onofrio, Gerione, San Vito, Lamacchione, Coste del Lago, Gerione, Fonte San Paolo, Piano San Giovanni, Montelecanne, Cerro Secco, Il Monte, Olivoli, Faidazzo.


Greek historian Polibios Polibio mentions a battle in 217 BC between the Roman army, based in Kalene, and Hannibal based in Gerione (now a hamlet of Casacalenda). The ancient coat of arms still shows a letter "K" in the initials, and actually the name might have been derived from the Latin Kalendae, the first day of the month in the Roman calendar, where traditionally markets used to be kept, and this center was probably the meeting point of all the craftsmen and farmers of the area. In the Middle Ages the craft of vase and brick making was a source of trade and wealth for the town. Among its feudal lords were the Di Sangro family, whose palace is still extant in the historical center. The ruinous earthquake of 1456 and 1688 left their deep marks in the architecture of homes and churches.

A tragic episode took place in February 1799 when Albanese mercenaries, sent by Duke Scipione Di Sangro who resented the liberal government of local Mastrogiurato Don Domenico De Gennaro, attacked Casacalenda. Don Domenico, hoping to save his town, went to meet the attackers who slew him treacherously on the Campomarino beach. In the years 1940-1943 Casacalenda hosted a concentration camp for Jewish and politically dissident women.

What to see

  • The church of Santa Maria Maggiore, very ancient, as proven by a stone cross of the 9th century AD in the Byzantine style, on a lateral lunette in the facade.
  • The Monastery of Sant'Onofrio founded in 1407 by Padre Giovanni from Scontrone and completed by Blessed Tommaso from Firenze, with a beautiful cloister and relics of frescos under the arches; the annexed church is rich in art works: 17th-century paintings of the Venetian school, behind the altar a magnificent representation of the Nativity by painter Santafede, in the choir another precious painting by Paolo Gamba from Ripabottoni, in the lateral altar of St. Joseph the altar-piece in marble representing Dead Christ by Sammartino and a 15th century painting representing St. Joseph by Antonio Solario, alias Lo Zingaro.
  • The sanctuary of Maria Santissima della Difesa, built in 1898 on the place where rose a giant oak called "quercia della Madonna", which was believed to be a holy place where miracles had occurred. On the fourth Sunday of September (since then a religious festivity) a statue of the Virgin Mary by Florentine artist Amalia Dupré was brought here. In the Sanctuary there is a rich treasures of all the gifts left by those who had their prayers fulfilled, and in Montreal (Canada) in the district of Mile-End, the emigrants from Casacalenda founded in 1921 their own Chiesa della Madonna della Difesa.
  • Gerione, a nearby center as ancient as Casacalenda, mostly abandoned after the 1456 earthquake, an object today of archeological studies.
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Provinces of Molise
Molise region
Surnames in the Provinces of Molise