The miracle of the Molise resides in this: Larino represents a world we thought we had lost. There it sits, like a wing, surrounded by valleys and rolling hills. The world ignored this "island of sanity" and moved on to other pursuits.
Larino was left alone, marvelously preserved, and a testament to a time when people knew each other, cared about each other, and where the individual's tragedy was the community's tragedy. There are funerals here that are attended by virtually everyone in the town. Larino does not hide its old or shun its young. There is a shared dialect, a shared culture, and a shared memory.
This is a community where groups of friends, often wealthy and frequently successful in their own careers, will meet early on a Sunday morning in the Piazza to pick wild oregano in stony uncultivated hilltops that rival the foothills of the alps for beauty.
This is a world where children can play in the streets far into the night under the watchful eyes of hundreds of "aunts" and "uncles".
Everyone has a place here. The lowliest individual is apt to be related to the people who lead the community. Blood ties are complex and deep. This is a place where it is still an honour to entertain friends, where conversation is an art, and cooking is a passion.
Wander down the narrow streets and listen. You'll hear the sound of televisions, the laughter of children, and dozens of conversations carried out with all the gusto of grand opera.
This is authentic. This is true. Larino has suffered much, borne much, and lost a great deal. And yet it persists.
Throughout the world the sons and daughters of this tiny community keep the idea of Larino alive. They come home to find their roots. Frequently they are disappointed, for although the setting is identical the characters in the play have changed. But if you have the patience to come back again and again.
If you have the good fortune to be respected by these hardworking, ambitious people, then perhaps once again you can be in a time and place you thought had slipped away from your grasp.
Larino is subtle. It is the cathedral and the bar, the soccer field and the cemetery, the deafening blare of the musical group and the silence of the night punctuated only by the bark of distant dogs.
Come here with respect and realize that something very valuable has been retained. Larino is a window to a past which had a human scale. Sit at the bar across from the Cathedral and say thanks that such a place can continue to exist and that -for a moment, at least - you are a part of it. That is why Larino is the Miracle of the Molise.