The Molise is a region that reserves many surprises. Starting from the landscape, rough and wild, uncontaminated, not very accessible and also sparsely populated, often still too unexplored. Among the places that leave you absolutely amazed is the Pantano di Zittola , an environment that, due to its vastness and beauty, recalls those immense territories found on American soil or those endless lands of Mongolia, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan.
Imagine endless expanses of green pastures , crossed by small streams, inhabited by wild animals, first of all the herds of horses (the Pentro horse is the native species of the territory of Montenero Val Cocchiara ). A show to admire when the warm weather arrives – it rains between October and May – and nature, even in this forgotten corner of Italy, wakes up.
The Pantano is an enormous and vital natural water reserve, where spontaneous vegetation of great interest grows and has unique environmental characteristics of its kind. It is also one of the most extensive peat bogs in Italy . The thick layer of peat that has been created over the centuries acts as a sponge, absorbing the excess water of the winter that is made to flow slowly into the ground during the summer. The Pantano is fed by about 25 perennial springs , including the Zittola, and is located inside a splendid natural amphitheater. In the area there are also several caves, one of which was certainly inhabited in the past.
Of prehistoric here there are not only the caves, but also some plant species, such as the ‘salix pentandra’, a type of willow dating back to the ice age . It is a beautiful and very interesting natural area where different species of birds live and many stop off during the spring migrations, where they grow wild orchids and where, from time to time, you can meet some Apennine wolves or some Marsican brown bears who, from nearby National Park of Abruzzo , it borders on these parts.
The entire area is a protected area, according to the provision of the European Community, and is constantly kept under control by various Italian and foreign universities. Those who wish to explore the Pantano di Zittola must therefore know that they are dealing with an intact place that must be preserved. A place where silence reigns and where, those who choose it to practice birdwatching , have every right to demand it.
Montenero Val Cocchiara is the nearest village from which to visit the peat bogs. It is a medieval village of 500 inhabitants in the province of Isernia with the stone houses that cling to the church with their balconies and eighteenth-century loggias. The main monuments of the small village are the church of Santa Maria di Loreto and the Ducal Palace. There are no hotels in the village nor restaurants, you have to look around. Castel di Sangro, however, is nearby, here there are also category hotels and many clubs.