Stemme of Agnone (Molise)

In May, we visited the Italian region of Molise, which you find sandwiched between northern Puglia and southern Abruzzo.

We arrived in Molise from Caserta, in Campania, without any booked accommodation and free of an itinerary. You can do that in May in many of the less-visited parts of Italy.

One thing we did pre-arrange was a car rental for the week. Getting to Agnone can be tricky without independent transport. Plus, I had hoped we could base ourselves in one place and day-trip to some Roman ruins and small villages in the area.

Agnone is an ancient town with a famous and historic bell foundry, the Fonderia Pontificia Marinelli, maker of bells for the Vatican. The site has been used as a foundry continuously since the year 1040. Artisans flourish in Agnone with their work visible in workshops throughout the town.

But the items that caught my eye as we made our way through the narrow streets were the diverse decorations above some of the town’s residential doorways. They are called ‘stemme’ (the plural of ‘stemma’) which is the Italian word for a coat of arms. Originally these decorations were probably heraldic symbols or family crests.

Some were old and in bad repair. Others were on newly refurbished houses and looked custom-made for the renovation. Some were whimsical while others reflected natural elements such as a sheep or a sunburst. We never saw two alike in our four days of wandering.

Although stemme are by no means unique to Agnone, there appeared to be a higher concentration of them in this small village.

I hope you enjoy the few photos we captured. Ciao for now. 

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