Sant'Elena Sannita, Province of Isernia, Molise

Massive migratory waves, starting from the late 19th century, reduced the population to one tenth now of what it was in the early 20th century, but in the summer months thousands of emigrants and their descendants come to visit.


  • Altitude: 780 m a.s.l
  • Territory: mountainous
  • Population: about 290 inhabitants in 2018
  • Zip/postal code: 86099
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 0865
  • Patron Saint: St. Michele Arcangelo, celebrated on September 29.


The ancient name of the village was Cameni or Cameli, then in 1896 the modern name was chosen in honor of Princess Elena of Montenegro, wife of the heir to the Italian throne, Vittorio Emanuele III. The first lords mentioned were the Sant'Angelo in the 13th and 14th centuries. Then in the 15th century followed the Orsini, and still later the counts of Montagano, followed by the Tamburri who kept the title up to 1806, when feudalism was abolished.

The economy was based on steel works (farming tools, knives, scissors) and in the centuries the clever craftsmen of Sant'Elena went to the market fairs as far as Brindisi and Tuscany. The trade gradually passed from that of blade sharpeners to that of suppliers of perfumes also to barbers. Many children of this now very small town are great perfume entrepreneurs in the world today. In Rome, the Santelenesi are known as creators of an empire of perfumes: over two hundred Roman perfumeries belong to originals of Sant'Elena Sannita.

What to see

  • The Parish Church of St. Michele Arcangelo, built at the beginning of 1600
  • The church of St. Maria delle Grazie, built in 1500; inside paintings by local artist Mario De Tollis
  • The church of Saints Cosma and Damiano.
  • The Museo del Profumo, collection of rare and unique pieces of modern and contemporary perfumery.

Events and Festivities

  • August 18: St. Elena
  • September 13: St. Filomena
  • September 27: of Saints Cosma and Damiano.

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Provinces of Molise
Molise region
Surnames in the Provinces of Molise