Refusing to give up on my great-grandfather's death date, we drove to Molise's capital city, Campobasso. Luckily a gentleman actually walked us to the Archivio di Stato, or we'd still be there climbing up and down the mountains of stairs searching for it. Once inside I said, English? She said, Italiano? Non!! Parlez-vous français? Oui! Voila! We can communicate!
Document after document, phone call after phone call, two hours later we were actually relieved they gave up. Michelina's prosciutto di cotto and prosciuttella were calling to us. And then luscious desserts from a pasticceria!
Having missed the turn-off for Saepinum we drove first to Isernia with its church dating back to 1275 and the cattedrale. Also known for its lace, we were only able to window shop since siesta time is 1:00 to 4:00.
Saepinum is situated on the spot where in 1000 BC, the shepherds traded their wool with the farmers. Those Samnites were conquered by the Romans in the First Century BC, so Augustus built a commercial center in Saepinum that lasted for about four hundred years-complete with forum, amphitheater, market, necropoli, walls, and baths. After the fall of Rome in 476, Saepinum went into decline and was sacked by the Saracens in 882. Now you can see farmers living amid these overgrown first century ruins. Imagine having a whole Roman town all to ourselves! Sitting in the amphitheater, standing in the basilica built to honor pagan gods, walking through the massive entrance archways was a humbling experience that none of us will forget.
We arrived back in Ripabottoni just in time for dinner of zucchini soup, pork chops with Indonesian spices, saffron risotto, and herbed mashed potatoes.