The current village of Sepino started when the inhabitants of Saepinum decided that their town on the plain was too vulnerable and moved up the mountain to build a new town - that of Sepino. Sepino is a lovely medieval town which is classed as one of the "most beautiful towns of Italy", the "Borghi piu belli d'Italia". The remains of the Roman town of Saepinum and also of the older Samnite town of Saepins attract many visitors.
After the decline of the Roman town of Saepinum following an earthquake, general economic problems and then the Greek-Gothic wars the town passed to control of the Lombard dukes and then to a Bulgarian colony. In the 9th century under threat from Saracen incursions the population moved up the mountain to its current site.
The town of Sepino has at its heart the Church of Santa Cristina with its lovely belltower topped by an intricate metal spire in the shape of an onion. The church dominates views of the village from the plains below. Inside the church the chapels contain various important treasures including reliquaries, a walnut door carved in the early 17th century, a carved choir and 12th century scrolls.
Surrounding the church are streets of stone houses interspersed with plaster-finished houses often painted shades of yellow or ocre. These are generally built in a simple, fairly unornamented style however here and there are some fine palaces such as the Palazzo Giacchi and the Palazzo Attilio - a Renaissance building with elegant stone doorways and windows. The church of San Lorenzo with its Romanesque belltower is also one of Sepino's key buildings.
Wandering through the narrow streets you will spot a number of fountains. The fountain in the main square is surrounded by 4 taps placed at the points of the compass, whilst the fountain of the Mascherone is decorated with a carved face dating back to the 2nd century AD.
Surrounding the medieval centre are 9th century defensive walls, most of which are incorporated into the houses on the edge of old centre. There are two gates through the walls and three cylindrical towers that can still be seen. From the town you get lovely views over the surrounding countryside.
Nearby are the remains of Saepinum and Saepins.
The ancient Roman town of Saepinum
The key attraction when visiting Sepino are the nearby remains of the anicient Roman town of Saepinum. This was built using a typical Roman plan but incorporates the Samite roads that already existed. The ancient city covered about 12 hectares and was surrounded by defensive walls with four main gates.
The city developed from 2 AD to the Augustan era. The layout of the town is clearly visible and its most important structures were its temple, forum, basilica, baths and its 'macellum' or indoor market. The most intact building is the theatre which is horse-shoe shaped and surrounded by 18th century buildings built of stone taken from the theatre itself!
As well as visiting the ruins themselves the site is often used as a location for dance and theatre events in the summer.
The ancient town of Saepins
Up the mountain above Sepino are the remains of the ancient town of Saepins. This town precedes the Roman town and was a strong and powerful city in the 3rd century BC but it was eventually conquered by the Romans who chose to build Seapinum in its place as this was better positioned for the trade routes in the area. Some ruins remain to be seen including parts of the defensive walls and the three gates into the old city.
Where is Sepino?
Sepino is situated 20km south of the capital of Molise - Campobasso. It is close to the Molise-Campania border.