Civitacampomarano is a fascinating hamlet in the region of Molise that is using street art to fight depopulation and abandonment.

Civitacampomarano, the street art capital of Molise

My recent adventure in Molise took me to Civitacampomarano, a tiny village near Campobasso home to 128 residents, where folk traditions are aplenty and mobile signal is often non-existent. I didn’t originally plan to visit it, but then I heard there was this little village I absolutely had to see, with fantastic murals and a beautiful castle and I decided to give it a go.

It took me about one hour to reach Civitacampomarano from Campobasso and the drive was quite adventurous, with windy roads and a few hairpin turns (maybe I should blame Google maps who often takes me to quite interesting side streets). Also, I was the only one on the road to the village, which honestly made me question my decision to go. Well, you know what? It turned out to be the best decision ever!

Soon after parking the car, I was approached by a local who asked if I was looking for the murals. He suggested I should follow him since he was the “official” tour guide and I accepted reluctantly. That’s how my adventure in Civitacampomarano started.

The village of Civitacampomarano, in the Italian region of MoliseA village that tries to change its destiny with street art

Vittorio (this is the name of the self-proclaimed guide) was born and bred in Civitacampomarano and knows anything and everything abut the place. He explained me that in recent years the village has been at risk of becoming a ghost-town, since most of its inhabitants left in search for a better future elsewhere (you know, the usual story, no jobs, no prospects…). Then in 2014 Ylenia Carelli, the president of the local cultural organization ProLoco “Vincenzo Cuoco”, got in touch with Roman street artist Alice Pasquini after watching her interview on TV and invited her over to help revitalize the village through street art. Alice immediately accepted and realized a series of murals inspired by some old photographs.

This artistic project managed to bring new life to the village and soon evolved into a festival, CVTà Street Fest (“CVTà” is the way locals use to call their village in dialect). Now in its fourth edition, this event sees the participation of street artists from all over the world who come to Civitacampomarano to leave their visual mark on the walls that locals eagerly make available.

Vittorio took me through the streets and alleys of Civitacampomarano and showed me every single piece of artwork, 47 in total. The murals are perfectly integrated into the village, making it a fantastic open-air gallery! My favorite pieces are those that depict scenes from the past, like this one:

Street art in Civitacampomarano, in the Italian region of MoliseThere are also some brilliant installations made with LEGO bricks.

Street art with Lego at Civitacampomarano, in the Italian region of MoliseOther things to see in Civitacampomarano

Street art is not the only attraction in Civitacampomarano. For example, there is a splendid Angevin castle dating back to the XIV century, whose imposing structure dominates the entire village. Unfortunately, though, it’s open only on Sundays and I couldn’t visit the interior.

The Angevine castle of Civitacampomarano, in the Italian region of MoliseAmong the charming alleys of the old town it is still possible to spot many little details that trace the history of Civitacamomarano, such as the stone engraved on the front wall of the Merchant’s House, reporting the year 1732 (the building is now partially collapsed).

Another site of great historical value is the Napoleonic Cemetery, about half an hour walk from the village. Again, it’s not easy to visit because it’s often closed, but it’s regarded as one of the few examples of Napoleonic cemetarial architectures in Italy

Still wondering what made this visit so special?

Apart from the incredible works of art I saw, it was once again the hospitality of the locals to amaze me. Vittorio was so keen to share his knowledge of each mural and the history of the village, and the residents we met during the tour always had a welcoming smile and tips to share. One lady in particular told Vittorio to bring me to the local bakery because I couldn’t leave Civitacampomarano without trying its famous ciell, the traditional biscuits stuffed with grape must.

Ciell, the traditional biscuits of Civitacampomarano, in the region of MoliseIn the end it felt like being with a friend, so we jumped in the car and went to lunch together at La Passeggiata, the nearest restaurant about 3 km from the village. The three guys that joined us halfway through the tour also came with us and we feasted over cavatelli (a traditional pasta shape) and local wine. Unexpected encounters like this are what I love the most about travelling!

Useful tips

  • CVTà Street Fest is the most famous local event, but there are also other interesting  festivals not to miss, such as San Liberatore, the local patron saint, in May and the Cavatelli Festival in August.
  • Vittorio is your go-to person if you want to see all the murals, because sometimes they are tiny or painted in the most unusual places and it would be difficult to spot them. Do not expect the standard guide though, he is simply a local who’s happy to share all his knowledge with visitors. Just ask locals where you can find him, although it’s more likely that he will find you first, like it happened to me. His tours are completely free, but I suggest to tip him for the time and dedication he puts into them.

I promised Vittorio to go back in June next year to help with the festival. Will you join us? 🙂

Ciao for now,

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16 Comments

Summer Austin 11 August 2019 at 22:06

How cool! I love the look of this little village with the narrow, winding streets and the street art just makes it that much cooler. It’s very inventive that the town decided to try to revitalize with street art and you’re right it makes it like an open air museum. The artworks are beautiful and it would be fun to take a tour of all of them. Great post!

    Val 12 August 2019 at 09:51

    Thanks so much Summer! I can’t wait to go back for the festival next year!

Emily 12 August 2019 at 09:17

Civitacampomarano seems to be an excellent find. The street murals alone captivate me and the dishes you enjoyed sound lovely. Your experience is why I love spontaneous travel decisions, sometimes you end up on the most amazing adventures. I hope to have an experience similar to yours someday.

    Val 12 August 2019 at 09:52

    I’m sure you’ll have plenty of such experiences Emily! x

Indrani 13 August 2019 at 07:27

That is an incredible idea to revitalize the village through street art! So interesting how it took shape and is now in its 4th year. The castle seems interesting, sad you missed visiting the interiors. It feels so good when locals chip in with more info. Great to know of Civitacampomarano.

    Val 10 September 2019 at 10:28

    Thank you Indrani!

Kavita Favelle 13 August 2019 at 07:41

This sounds like the best kind of visit, one where a local takes you around to ensure you don’t miss anything. So you had Vittorio to tell you all about the village and history and the beautiful modern murals too. I particularly love that you were invited to the bakery to try a local treat!

    Val 10 September 2019 at 10:27

    I’m totally in love with Civitacampomarano, hope you’ll be able to see all this yourself one day Kavita 🙂

Sinjana Ghosh 13 August 2019 at 08:00

What a beautiful and unique place. The street art is stunning and stands out even more against the stone walls and cobbled streets. The photos are amazing and I am so excited to visit this village after reading your post.

    Val 10 September 2019 at 10:26

    Aaw, thank you Sinjana!

Sandy N Vyjay 13 August 2019 at 17:27

Civitacampomarano sounds really fascinating. A town that has turned around from the brink of becoming a ghost town. The town itself seems to have paused in a time warp. From your pictures, it seems to have emerged from another period of history. What a great idea to revitalize the place with street art.

    Val 10 September 2019 at 10:25

    Thanks so much Sandy

Lisa 13 August 2019 at 18:38

Vittorio sounds like an excellent guide! I’ve not yet been to Civitacampomarano but what a lovely and artistic place this is. The art is just fantastic and so unique too. I’d love to munch on a few of those biscuits while here accompanied with a glass of good Italian red!

    Val 10 September 2019 at 10:24

    Can’t wait to go back for the festival already!

Clare 14 August 2019 at 04:12

I love all the street art in Civitacampomarano! How cool! I really love street art, but I know it is a problem in some places. However the lego art in particular is SO COOL! I’ve never seen anything like that. It’s so cool that street art is used for such a great project. And ciell sounds amazing and definitely something I want to try!

    Val 10 September 2019 at 10:25

    Thank you Clare, this place was definitely one of the best finds of the trip!

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Ciao! I’m Val

Ciao! I’m Val

Ciao! I'm Valentina, an Italian blogger with a huge passion for my country, its culture and traditions. My Italian Diaries is the online space where I share my expert knowledge of itineraries, activities and off-the-beaten path places to help you experience the best of Italy like a local.

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