The Samnites Regions:
Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Basilicata
Long before Roma was built, the Samnites, a population that migrated and blended with the descendants of the Italic
Oschi or Opici, settled in the territory corresponding to the regions of Abruzzo, Molise, most of Basilicata and
part of Campania.
Although the Roman historians report a treaty with the Samnites in the year 354 BC, it is presumed that the
Samnites dominated the territory since the VII or VI century BC.
The principal economic activities of the Samnites were sheep farming, agriculture and trade. Wheat, olive oil,
sheep, cattle, milk by-products, woolen material and clothes manufactured by their women were traded in markets
established at stop and rest points of the “tratturi”. The
grassy paths that the shepherds used to move heard of goats, sheep or cattle from the highland to the planes. The
still visible today and were used until a few centuries ago; these ancient routes influenced the economy and
history of the Samnites.
The region was organized in a confederation united in the defense against enemies. The Samnites considered
military preparation of basic importance and young men trained in war games and often sent to fight as
They introduced new strategies to the art of war and developed the square shield. They fought the Romans in three
wars, they won the second war, but lost the last war in 290BC and the Samnites retreated in the mountains but never
completely surrender their fighting spirit, not even when in the year 82BC Lucius Cornelius Sulla destroyed
all the cities and villages in Samnium and killed or dispersed the population.
The Romans used the Samnites as gladiators; many were used by the Romans for their training as public officials.
Pontius Pilates, Roman governor of Judea, was probably a Samnite.
The proud people living in this area put up a struggle against the Greeks, the Romans, the Papal State and any
other domination and the only way to control them was to isolate them in their beautiful valleys and mountains
unspoiled even at present.