ECHO Molise
  Emigration and Cultural Heritage of the Molise
Bonefro Map & Sights
Would you like to "stroll" through the town of Bonefro?  Try the Photo Map below!  Under the map are even more sights and detail.  We hope these photos and stories help you feel closer to you heritage home.

Here's how the Photo Map works:

  • "Map" is a traditional map with street names, "Satellite" shows photos, and "Hybrid" setting lets you see the satellite photo and street names
  • Zoom (far right) to adjust the size of the map
  • Move the whole map to see more of the town
  • Check/uncheck "categories" to add/remove "hot spot" markers
  • Hot Spots are places of interest or services
  • Click a hot spot marker to read and see photos of the spot (remember, you can find more details in the list of sights following the map)
  • Click a thumbnail photo to open a larger picture
This map is a work-in-progress and you can help make it even better!
At (opens new window), you can add or move the hot spots and
upload your own photos, videos, etc...  What you add THERE, will show up HERE.

 Index of Sights

 Castle  Fontana della Terra  Porta Molino  Via Rosello
 Cemetery  Fountains, other  Porta Nuova  Via Santa Brigida
 Chiesa San Francesco  Maucieri Building  Porta Piè la Terra  Via Santa Maria
 Chiesa San Nicola  Palazzo Miozzi  Terra Vecchia  Via Solitaria
 Chiesa Santa Maria delle Rose  Piazza Municipio  Via Calvario  Vico Gaifo
 Convento  Porta Fontana  Via Piazza Grande  War Memorial

Return to Bonefro Origins and Overview

Terra Vecchia
Old Land, Ancient Peoples

The Terra Vecchia section of Bonefro dates back at least 1,000 years (See  Origins). This was the Bonefro of the Middle ages:  A circular encampment protected by hillsides, a wall and a mighty Lombard period (555-1070 a.d.) fortress.  Inside, twisting passageways wind through the town. The wall’s gate (Porta Molino) entered onto the original town square, located in the center of the residences near Vico Gaifo.  As the population grew, the town began to expand outside the wall (into “the borgo”).  By 1617, at least 80 people lived outside the walls of Terra Vecchia.  More gates (four in total) were added to accommodate the foot traffic.  

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  Porta Molino

Porta Molino is probably the oldest of the four portals.  In recent years, the original wooden beams were replaced with concrete. According to oral tradition, the original town piazza was located across from Porta Molino, near Vico Gaifo.

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 Porta Fontana.  Porta Fontana, Bonefro

Renovations left Porta Fontana with none of its original styling.  In 1829, the town built a road from Piazza Grande to the Fontana della Terra, connecting old and new Bonefro.  The road had two high walls, which bothered some of the nearby residents.  The resulting compromise:  an arch was built at Porta Fontana, and the walls lowered and stabilized.

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 Porta Nuova, a new gate.

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Porta Piè la Terra 

One of the older gates, as shown by its construction style and lower passageways.


 Vico Gaifo

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 The Castle

Spanish documents recorded the castle as early as 1531, one stating, “there is a beautiful castle with four towers…”  However, the castle was probably constructed much earlier, during the Lombard period (555 AD -1070 AD). 

All the towers were refaced (almost certainly in the fifthteenth century when it was transformed from a fortress to the baronial residence). However, three towers remain.  Those on the East and North sides show Romanesque characteristics from the Norman period (1070-1200).  The fourth tower, collapsed in 1888, had been almost completely cylindrical and smaller than the others. 

A sketch and 19th century photograph indicate the existence of another (fifth) tower detached from the castle and octagon in shape, probably built during the Swabian period (1200-1265) as a look-out tower.


In feudal times,
the castle contained a jail. 
In 1800,
it began to house the Civic Guard.

A covered passageway from the castle to the Chiesa Santa Maria delle Rose was demolished at the end of the 19th century. 

In 1910, the building was divided and sold to private citizens as residences.  The part of the castle seen today from Piazza Municipio is almost intact and original, while the tower across from the main church entrance has been refitted and supported.  Further, the private citizens who live there made later modifications.


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 Chiesa Santa Maria delle Rose

(Closed for restoration since the 2002 earthquake)

The Mother Church, or main church of the parish, Santa Maria delle Rose was documented in 1614, but is believed to have existed much earlier.

The church is built in a quadrilateral plan.  The central nave is 22 x 7 meters (72 x 23 feet).  One side nave is 17 x 7 meters (56 x 23 feet), the other 17 x 8 meters (56 x 26 feet).  The imbalance occurs where the side of the church meets the castle walls.  Also, having been built on a hillside caused the floor to be lower in the center.

External fascia was almost completely restored in 1853 except for the 1748 main door.  The church was renovated many times, masking the original design.  However, during the 1960-1966 restoration, some original elements were uncovered.  The original Romanesque design indicates construction during the Norman period.

After the French Revolution, republicanism became an ideal supported mainly by anti-Papal aristocracy in the Kingdom Naples (to which Bonefro belonged). When an uprising of pro-French republicans ousted King Ferdinand IV of Naples, Napoleon Bonaparte entered with the French Army and declared “the Partenopea Republic” on January 23, 1799.   He sent troops throughout the former Kingdom to maintain order and prevent civil war.  French soldiers in Bonefro planted a “tree of liberty” on the church grounds (now paved), as a symbol of French Republicanism. Bonefro peasant Nicola Spada uprooted the tree in protest.  He was arrested and immediately brought to trial by the French High Military Commission in Campobasso.  There, he was executed on March 18, 1799.  Three months later, Ferdinand IV returned to the throne.

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Monumento dei Caduti
Delle Guerre,
 War Memorial

The town inaugurated the original war monument on November 1, 1921 as a memorial to the sons of Bonefro who gave their lives in World War One.  The memorial was funded with private donations, including a large part from Bonefrani who had emigrated to the USA and Canada.  Contact us to see if one of your relatives is on the list of donors.  Because the statue and balustrades were made of bronze,  the Italian government requisitioned the monument in 1942 to support the war effort.

The town erected the replacement that stands today, on November 4, 1951—this time, made of marble.  Antonio Giordano of nearby Santa Croce di Magliano sculpted the monument, which carries the names of soldiers who fell in Africa, Spain and the Second World War.

Next to the memorial for the fallen soldiers is another for civilian casualties of the war, including four children killed when an ordnance they found exploded.

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 Chiesa San Nicola

Probably built in the late sixteenth century and constructed outside the medieval walls of Terra Vecchia, the church is dedicated
to the town’s patron saint,
San Nicola di Bari. 
Its existence was documented as early as 1614.

Originally built as a chapel, it consisted of only one central nave (as today) and one altar.  Two lateral naves added in 1678 at citizen expense required radical renovation by 1730 because, as described to the bishop of the time, they were “in bad condition and falling down.” Apparently, the chapel had posed several problems for the bishop.  In 1692, he had to remind the parishioners to refrain from commercial activity such as storing grain inside the chapel.  The chapel needed further renovations in 1753 and 1762.  With continued changes through 1939, nothing remains of the original design.

Carpenter Giuseppe Aloia and mason Giuseppe Lalli added the exterior sundial in 1839.  The words “RUIT HORA...” remind one how quickly time passes.  The church bell was forged in Padua, 1906.

Today's interior reflects the eighteenth century remodls and twentieth century painting by local artists Don Nicola Baccari and Ettore Lalli.

There are four altars:

Main Altar, Altar of the Madonna del Carmine (stucco), Altar of the Madonna della Libera (stucco), and Altar of the madonna del Lourdes (wooden)


Also, the church holds relics of San Celestino Martire (Saint Celestine the Martyr) above a wax figure of the saint.

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 Il Convento Santa Maria delle Grazie

The Monastery Saint Mary of Grace

High above the town, on the “Piano della Fontana,” (so named for the fresh water spring that supplied the land and later, the Fontana della Terra and the Fontana della Contrada dei Ciechi), Franciscan monks founded the Saint Mary of the Graces Monastery.  The date is uncertain, but generally believed to be around 1586. 

In the religious suppression of 1652, the monks relocated to a seminary in Larino.  The monastery re-opened in 1655 and remained until the Napoleonic religious suppression of 1809. 

From 1703 to 1716, the building was re-fabricated using materials similar to the original.  The well was added in the cloister in 1736, the bell tower erected later.

The property, excluding the Chiesa di San Francesco,
was ceded to the town in 1817. 
It has since housed a school, a Carabinieri barracks and a jail (you can still see where bars had been attached to the windows).


Until the 2002 earthquake, the convent housed the town’s ethnographic museum
(to be re-opened in the
Maucieri Building). 
Totally renovated, the monastery now hosts groups such as the
I Jam Jazz
Adriatic Chamber Music festivals' participants.

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Chiesa di San Francesco 

The Church of Saint Francis was incorporated into the Convento Santa Maria delle Grazie.  It consisted of a single large nave and a sacristy.  Original altars included:

·        The Main Altar (Santa Maria delle Grazie)

·        Altar of the Cordon of San Francesco, erected by the Perrotta Family

·        Altar of the Sacred Cross, erected by parishioner devotions

·        Altar of San Antonio di Padua, erected by the Marchese Pietro Castelletti

·        Altar of Santa Maria del Carmine, erected by the Fantetti Family

·        Altar of San Biagio (Saint Blaise)

(The last two altars were removed by 1702).

The church and monastery closed with the French religious suppression of 1809.  However, by 1816, the French were again ousted.  Monsignor Fantetti received permission to reactive the Chiesa San Francesco in 1817, because the mother church (Chiesa Santa Maria delle Rose) could no longer service the town’s 3,500 parishioners.  Ferdinand I, King of the Two Sicilies, provided repair materials.

    ·         1824         Sacristy converted to a cemetery

    ·         1835         Roof caved in during a strong wind

    ·         1847         With fallen walls and warped floor,
the church was abandoned
 and completely fell to ruin

Today, the chapel is being rebuilt as a public auditorium, completing renovations on all four sides of the monastery. 






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Before the early 1800s, the dead were interred in and around local churches rather than in a separate cemetery.  For instance, they were buried under the floors of
Chiesa San Nicola, and Chiesa Santa Maria delle Rose and in its bell tower.  There was a burial plot next to the Mother Church, where the base of the bell tower now stands.

A Napoleonic decree of 1804 forbade the practice of burying the dead inside a building or in the town proper.  The ban was largely ignored.  However, by 1824, some interments began in
Chiesa San Francesco near the Convent, as consecrated ground away from the town center.  In 1828, Monsignor Fantetti stated the sepulcher at the Mother Church had become too full to accept more cadavers.  Further, he complained that the smell in summer caused nausea and affected public health.

By 1832, all the sepulchers, except those of priests from the Fantetti family, were moved from the Mother Church to Chiesa San Francesco.  Alternately, families wishing their loved ones re-buried in or around Chiesa San Nicola could do so at a cost of five carlini.  (The burial plot was adjacent to the west side of the chapel.)

The Old Cemetery

In 1837, spurred by a cholera epidemic, the town built a cemetery in the Pagliarella neighborhood.  The first interred was Teodora Vaccaro, a cholera victim, on July 24, 1837- The last interred was Santa Fantetti, a 5-month old baby, September 24, 1897.

The New Cemetery

Construction on the "new" cemetery ended in 1897.  It is located in Colle Marzillo,
2 kilometers from the main town.  Giuseppe Lalli donated funds and Giovanni Albino engineered the new cemetery. The first interred was Antonio Colabella,
a baby of 13 months, on October 5, 1897.

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 Maucieri Building

In 1925, emigrant Giovanbattista
(James) Maucieri returned to Bonefro from America to visit his ailing mother.  He donated 150,000 lire to construct a hospital for citizens of Bonefro and surrounding areas recovering from illness.  Construction began in 1927, in the Pagliarella neighborhood

Construction was completed in 1929, but the building did not open as a hospital; instead, it was abandoned.  Eventually, Don Domenico Giannotti wrote to Maucieri, asking permission to use the building as an asilo (kindergarten) and school for female workers.  More construction started, this time with the consent of all the citizens.  The building opened as “Asilo Infantile Giuseppina Maucieri” (for the patron’s mother) in February 1935.  In 1943, it housed war orphans.  Soon, the town plans to re-open the Ethnographic Museum in the building.

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 La Fontana
della Terra

Because public contributions funded this fountain, it was named “of the terra, of the people.”  It has also been called La Fontana della Conceria (Tannery), from its position beside the tannery garden, and as La Fontana della Salute (Health), because the water has less than 5 percent saline and so mothers used it to wash the eyes of children with styes

Constructed in 1771, the fountain has six apertures.  At the top is a bust of San Nicola di Bari (the town’s patron saint).  At high center is inscribed in Latin the names of primary contributors:  Emilio Fantetti (medical doctor); Raimundo Rossi (landowner); Gennaro Colabella (public hygiene superintendent); and Rocco Blanco.  Arcangelo Fagnano restored the fountain in 1816. 

Several 19th century brigands met execution at the fountain grounds.  However, today's amphitheater-like setting hosts public activities such as the summer Bonefro Rock concerts.


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 Via Piazza Grande, Terra Vecchia

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 Via Santa Brigida, Terra Vecchia 

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 Via Solitaria, Terra Vecchia

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 Water Features

The fountain below is across from Piazza Municipio.  The granite pillar resting next to it was originally erected in the ancient town center, a sort of obliesk, a symbol of the city.  It is currently being studied for possible restoration.



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Palazzo Miozzi 

Located on the Piano della Fontana, near the Convento, Palazzo Miozzi was once the home of the Miozzi family, and later the Arciprete Don Teadoro Tata. 

A later owner remodeled and expanded the building, adding wings on the Via di Dio.  Part of the property once owned by General Francesco Sacco was donated to the community and has since been used as a school, town hall and police station.  It is currently undergoing restoration.


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 Piazza Municipio, Town Square

The town square was built in 1891.  Before this construction, the main piazza was Piazza Grande and, more historically, the small center in Terra Vecchia across from Vico Gaifo and Porta Molino.

The fountain was added in 1907, the trees planted about 1908.

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Via Rosello 

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 Via Calvario


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Don't miss the Pino Perrotta Showcase for artistic photos of Bonefro and other Molise towns!

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