The Park's Towns
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Municipalities in Molise

The current elevation profile of local residential areas resulted on one hand from the monastic colonization by the Abbey of San Vincenzo, and on the other hand from people's habit of settling on elevated grounds, such as hills and borders of terraces or karst hollows, which were more easily defendable. Then, in the last two centuries a new settlement model overlapped with the traditional one, and scattered rural dwellings and hamlets appeared as a consequence of several factors: better safety conditions, the splitting up of former large feudal estates, and the concession of rights on plots of land by feudal lords to peasants. This new model spread itself actively until the1950s, especially in municipalities encompassing vast expanses of cultivable land. Large numbers of people thus abandoned traditional settlements, which had arisen and grown thanks to the feudal model, even when topographical conditions were very bad. At that time such towns looked therefore neglected and run-down, with numerous empty or ruined houses.  
In the following years, until 1975 - 1980, in the upper Volturno Valley the generalized crisis of Italian mountains added itself to the crisis of southern Italy, leading to massive migratory flows and desertion of many isolated settlements. Nonetheless, scattered settlements are an important territorial feature still today in the municipalities of Filignano and Scapoli.
The following and very recent phase is remigration: the number of inhabitants and houses in residential areas has partially recovered, unfortunately in questionable ways; but this phase is also marked by the immediate and long-term consequences of the 1984 earthquake, which had its epicentre in Val Comino. Many houses were seriously damaged and never repaired, in contrast with what happened in the other Park municipalities both in Latium and Abruzzo. As an example, suffice it to say that the emergency wooden huts in San Vincenzo al Volturno are still inhabited.
As far as exposure is concerned, most towns are oriented to the south (typical examples are Pizzone, Castelnuovo and Rocchetta) or at least protected from northern winds by the mountains surrounding the Volturno Valley to the northwest and northeast. Scapoli and Castel San Vincenzo are prime examples in this respect.

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