Since I live in the northern part of Apulia, called Capitanata or Daunia, I designed this blog as a little guide for those people who wants to visit Italy and they still don't have ideas about the places to visit. It is a zone characterized by wild nature, turquoise sea, sandy beaches, a huge forest with deers, birds and ancient trees, this implies that it is the best place for those ones who love trekking, swimming, enjoying the nature and, of course, eating the awesome foods that this place offers.
Daunia is the most northern zone of Apulia, the "heel" of Italy. A lot of civilizations settled in Apulia because of its wonderful and wild nature, the turquoise sea, the sandy coasts and the strategic mountains. The natural landscape is characterized by a soft and white stone, anciently used to obtain houses, wells, tombs and tunnels. Its name comes from the ancient Greek Ἰαπυγία (pronounced Iapyghia) and then Latinized into Apulia, which indicates one of the populations that lived into this part of Italy.
200 million years ago, when the supercontinent divided into Laurasia and Gondwana, Italy was just a little piece of land between them; it was used by dinosaurs to pass from Gondwana to Laurasia, leaving traces of their passage as everyone can see in Altamura, in which there were found thousands footsteps of dinosaurs.
Many years later, the man moved the first step on Earth and his first witness has been found in Daunia.
Daunia is the perfect place for anyone who loves the search for a strong link with wild nature, beautiful sea, ancient history and inner journeys.
History and Populations
The first settlements found in Daunia date back to the Neolithic age (7000-3500 BC). The most important and ancient settlement in Italy and, probably; in the entire Europe is the Paglicci cave, near the town of Rignano Garganico and the village of Passo di Corvo, in which colonies of primitive men came and found a fertile plain, suitable for agriculture and breeding.
From the first millennium BC Indo-European populations through Illyria began to land on the Italian coasts and settled on a vast but well-divided territory among several populations: Daunians in the North, Peucetians in the middle and Messapians in the South.
Part of Daunia was subsequently occupied by another pre-Roman population: Samnites. It was a hunter-breeders population born from the union of Indo-European and Osca populations, which were divided into different tribes with a common language. In fact, it was their custom in times of famine, to send their first sons who born during the period between March, 1st and April, 30th away with the task of founding a new tribe. This ritual was called Ver sacrum i.e. "The sacred spring".
Soon, the expansion of Samnites collided with the Roman ambition and three wars were born: the first one started because either Romans or Samnites were interested in the city of Capua and it ended without a winner: the Samnites were forced to leave the city and Romans were turned away from Capua.
The second Samnite war saw Romans defeated and humiliated: in fact they were surprised along a passage in the mountains by the Samnites and forced to pass naked under a roof of spears so that they bowed before them. Romans never forgot that shame; the third war, instead, occurred in the third millennium BC and it saw Romans as absolute winners. Samnites were conquered and gradually Romanized, as was the Romans' rule.
In 216 BC Apulia was the scene of a new and bloody battle, one of the most important in history and one of the very few battles that Rome lost: the battle of Cannae. Rome was at war with Carthage, its greatest and most powerful rival, and after a series of battles at sea and in Sicily, Hannibal Barca, general of excellent genius, passing through Spain, crossed the Alps, enlisted Gauls and barbarian peoples who deeply hated Rome and reached Cannae, in the central part of Apulia, where he absolutely defeated the army of Rome, much more numerous, led by the consuls Lucius Aemilius Paullus and Gaius Terentius Varro. Some historians, however, are now inclined to place the battle in Daunia, near the river Fortore.
With the advent of the first Roman emperor, Julius Caesar, there was an administrative reform that introduced Apulia into Regio II Apulia et Calabria, where Calabria was not the current Calabria but the southern part of Apulia: Salento. Furthermore, two very important road arteries were built: the Appian Way and the Trajan, which incorporated and expanded the previous one, built by the consul Appius Claudius Caecus and the emperor Trajan, that contributed to the exceptional development of numerous cities along the way. Apulia thus became the first region for grain production, in fact it was known as "granary of Italy"; in addition, extra-virgin olive oil was also produced: the most valuable commodity for trade with the Orient.
Heruli, Ostrogoths and Goths
After the defeat of the western Roman Empire, the barbaric peoples of Heruli and Ostrogoths conquered Apulia and remained in command for some tens of years. Initially Odoacer, Heruli's king, allocated some garrisons with the task of collecting the taxes that the citizens already paid to the Roman Empire and that, therefore, did not change their condition, and did not produce clashes, riots or wars.
Because of the frequent raids and barbarian devastation, the economy of Puglia fell sharply and the citizens, in absolute poverty, were forced to feed on tubers and berries. The campaigns were progressively abandoned, trades reduced to almost zero.
The situation changed when in 552 BC Justinian, emperor of Constantinople, sent in Italy his general Narses, who killed Totila in battle and took command of all the territories previously controlled by the Goths. However, the heavy taxation imposed by Byzantium further impoverished the population.
Under the Byzantine rule, in Puglia came a catepan, whose headquarters was located in the province of Foggia. This event caused the area of the catapano to be called Catepanate. Over the centuries, except for a slight change, the name has been preserved and today the province of Foggia is still called Capitanata.
In the ninth century the Arab populations of the Saracens first appeared on the Italian coast, invading Sicily, conquering and sacking Brindisi in 836, then Taranto in 840 and Bari in 848. After the conquest of Bari, the emir made 24 watchtowers built and equipped himself with an important battle fleet, creating the Emirate of Bari.
The Longobards, who shared the Southern part of Italy with the Byzatines during this period, asked for help to Pope Leo IV who resided with Emperor Lothair I.
The emperor, therefore, at the invitation of the Pope, sent his son Lodovico II, who liberated Bari in 871 from the Saracens.
The growing discontent of the population of Southern Italy towards Byzantines opened the way to an interesting political scenario in the European context: groups of Normans coming from the North of France began to descend into Southern Italy. At first few, they soon became more and more numerous and influential.
In fact, at first, they undertook to protect the pilgrims who were traveling to Jerusalem or returning from Jerusalem; in a second moment, they offered their military services, becoming mercenaries. This activity made them rich soon and with the earned money they built territorial seigniories.
Their first political activity was to rely on the noble Hauteville family. Pope Leo IX tried in vain to oppose the rise of the Hauteville, until Pope Nicholas in 1059 legitimized the family and appointed Robert of Hauteville (called Guiscard) Duke of Puglia. To convince the Pope was the fact that Normans were an excellent tool to ward off Byzantines.
Normans started the reconquest of the Apulian cities under the control of the Byzantines and the Saracens, ending in 1071 with the capture of Bari and driving away the Byzantine officials. After the conquest of Calabria and Sicily, Apulia was incorporated into the kingdom of Sicily, commanded by Roger II, nephew of Robert. Apulia, however, was under Roberto's regional command until his death; subsequently it passed into the hands of his sons who divided the territories.
One of the last Norman sovereigns in Apulia was William II, who brought stability to the region, defended the papacy and the municipalities against the Germanic emperor Frederick Barbarossa and died without children. He was succeeded by Constance, daughter of Roger II and wife of Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor.
On the death of the emperor (1197), the queen was left alone to grow the small Frederick II, king of the Swabians, who started the most splendid, glorious and rich season for Apulia.
At the age of 4, Frederick II became an orphan because of the death of his mother Constance; he was therefore entrusted to Pope Innocent III, who instructed and raised him. He spent his childhood and adolescence in Palermo in contact with many cultures, races and religions, including the Islamic one, since in Sicily an Islamic emir had settled.
Becoming an adult, he left for Germany where he subdued and imposed himself on all the German barons, who began to fight for the crown of emperor of Germany.
In 1221 he went to Apulia and fell deeply in love with the woods, rivers and artistic heritage there. He built there castra (castles), palatia (royal palaces), domus solaciorum (leisure residences) with defense or re-creation functions. Among the most impressive castles there are those of Lucera, Oria, Brindisi, Andria, Bari and Trani.
However he placed in Foggia the capital of his empire, he built the royal palace, the only non-fortified building, of which today only a part of the portal remains; the rest was destroyed by earthquakes and bombings during the Second World War. He wanted to make Foggia a rich and beautiful city full of art.
He made several reforms in the in the administrative, social, economic and military field: he reorganized Apulia in four provinces, built and restored 111 castles, repopulated villages and built new cities, including the one in which he died: Castel Fiorentino. In this period numerous Romanesque cathedrals arose. He redeveloped Brindisi, built an important shipyard, placed there the imperial mint, which coined the Apulian money, and expanded the port, used for trips to the Holy Land. The love for the countryside and hunting led him to build Castel del Monte in Andria but he spent not even one day there because he died in the same year he was finished.
The love for art, science, medicine, music and poetry, led him to establish a school of poets in Palermo that wrote not in Latin but in Sicilian dialect. He established the University of Naples, the first laic university in the world.
On 13 December 1250, despite its health problems becoming increasingly serious, took part in a hunt between Foggia and Lucera and was seized by an illness. The soldiers took him immediately to Castel Fiorentino, near Torremaggiore, where he sensed he would die. Years ago, the court astronomers gave him a prophecy, which was the reason why he never wanted to visit Florence:
"You will die at the iron door, in a place that bears the name flower"
At his death, he was first succeeded by his eldest son Conrad, then Manfred, founder of the city of Manfredonia, who was killed in battle by the French Charles of Anjou, cousin of Louis IX, legitimized by the French pope Clement IV.
The burdensome tax laws imposed immediately by Charles induced the Sicilians to nominate the sixteen-year-old Conradin, legitimate heir to the throne, as their king. To avoid that the last heir of the Swabian house, grown up, gathered among the population enough consents to wage war against him, Charles had him beheaded in Naples, putting an end to the Swabian dynasty in Italy.
The period of Anjou
Under the Angevin domination Apulia passed a period of crisis and decay: all the laws of Frederick II which were in contrast with the will of the Church were abolished, the capital was moved from Palermo to Naples, all the Swabian officials were dismissed, were favored the french nobles, who ruthlessly oppressed the citizens and the local barons and, finally, imposed a rigid fiscalism due to the constant need by Charles of funds to subsidize his military campaigns, fueled by his expansionist desire to become the most powerful emperor of Europe through the conquest of Albania, Bulgaria, Algeria, Tunis and Byzantine possessions.
The Angevin policy shifted the center of the Kingdom from the Adriatic Sea to the Tyrrhenian Sea, favoring the development of that area; this fact made Apulia less important, impoverished it, abandoned it to the raids of French mercenaries who carried out real terrorist acts and led it into a real feudal anarchy.
The total negligence and disinterest of Charles towards Apulia led him to entrust the tax collection and tax policy to the Venetians, the Genoese and the Florentines who seized the monopoly of wheat, oil and wool and imposed the sheep customs; in fact, the phenomenon of transhumance, which would have had a significant economic impact, was one of the predominant activities in Daunia. Charles also introduced monopolies on metals and salt. In the industrial field he introduced the textile industry and, through the Venetians, modernized the ports of Naples, Manfredonia, Bari and Brindisi.
Ultimately, the greedy temperament of lands, power, money and the lack of respect for the habits of the people conquered by him, the heavy taxation, the preference for French nobles to the detriment of local barons, the expansionist ambitions and the displacement of the capital to Naples soon led the Sicilian population to the Vespers rebellion which culminated with the killing of thousands of Frenchmen. Charles was forced to withdraw his troops for a while and, afterwards, proposed to the Sicilians tax benefits and the restoration of the old Swabian statute in exchange for a reorganization of the Angevin government but the Sicilians refused and Charles and his army besieged Messina.
Sicilians then asked for help Peter III of Aragon, husband of Constance, daughter of Manfredi, who could claim succession rights over Sicily. Giovanni da Procida and Constance managed to persuade Pedro to go down to Sicily: it was the beginning the Aragonese Era.
Among the innovations introduced by the Aragonese there is the royal sheep customs, implemented in order to obtain revenue from the activity of sheep farming in the Capitanata, it was first established in Lucera and then moved to Foggia: the shepherds from Abruzzo, in exchange for land sufficient for the whole winter for the pasture they had to pay a toll of 8 ducats for every 1000 sheep and they were obliged to sell in Foggia wool, lambs, goats and cheeses; this activity made Foggia a very important city, thanks to the fair that could have lasted from May to August.The shepherds accepted the conditions but asked for protection along the outward and return routes. The Kingdom, therefore, bought roads and passages from fiefs, communes, lands and castles and stipulated contracts with universities, fiefdoms and barons for the possession of their lands during the winter, to be used for grazing.
Justice was reorganized, the court was strengthened and the Sacred Hearing of the Land of Bari and Otranto established, they sold municipalities to the feudal lords for economic necessities, gave privileges to the Venetians and sold them the duchy of Bari. Apulia lost importance due to the displacement of the trade routes to the West.
In 1480 the Turks besieged Otranto and after months of resistance, the city capitulated. The Turks besieged and sacked the city, killed all the males over 18, slaughtered the children and raped the women. The last 800 inhabitants preferred to be killed rather than to convert. The Duke of Calabria, son of the king, finally, helped by funds of the municipalities, with an army of Aragonese succeeded in destroying the Turkish army that in part had withdrawn to the news of the death of their sovereign.
Venice occupied some Apulian cities and entered a war with the Kingdom of Naples, which ended two years later with the sale of Trani, Brindisi, Otranto and Gallipoli to the Venetians. Moreover, they also looted Mola, Polignano.
The Apulienses were exhausted by taxes, plague and malaria, by attacks by Turkish pirates that became increasingly frequent and forced the population to abandon the coasts, causing the silting of ports, get bogging down of coasts, the contraction of trade and agriculture; all this combined with the earthquakes in Capitanata further aggravated the already tragic situation.
The House of Habsburg came to power through arranged marriages between the House of Aragon and the Austrian one. The first Hapsburg emperor who inherited one of the largest empires in Europe of all time was Charles V, nephew of Ferdinand II of Aragon. It was a period without reforms and Apulia was left in ruins: the local barons gained enormous powers through compromises with the emperor and used these powers to further demean the citizens who lived in their areas, obliging them to pay taxes, to devolve part of their harvests and ruining always more citizens.
The Bourbon House
In 1734 Charles of Bourbon defeated the Habsburg troops at Bitonto and declared himself King. From the beginning, laws were enacted to strengthen the state, abolishing the privileges of barons, local feudal lords and the Church. The House of Bourbon made Apulia rich again: they built roads and harbors, new public buildings, they reduced taxes to citizens, they made the census and taxed ecclesiastical assets, they partially reclaimed and colonized the Tavoliere, returned the lands illegally occupied by feudal lords among landowners, they divided the Jesuit lands and distributed them, introduced new cultivations including fruit trees and vegetable gardens.
Enlightenment-inspired intellectual movements spread, which discussed economic progress, public happiness, and the development of agriculture.
The advent of the Bourbons inaugurated the most profitable and bright period for Apulia, so much so that it was compared to the golden age during the reign of Frederick II of Swabia.
The restructuring of the communication routes increased the volume of commercial traffic with Venice and Naples. The most valuable merchandise in Apulia became olive oil, whose production process created by the Provencal agronomist Pietro Ravanas using a hydraulic press, made it the most precious and expensive oil in the entire Bourbon Kingdom. The first quality was sold to the British, the rest in Marseille who used it to produce soaps. Olive oil made Bari the most important city for export and oil production.
Bourbon Apulia was a jewel, a land of olive trees, vines, sugar cane, almond, hazelnut, citrus and shepherds, where hunger had been dammed but malaria continued to reap victims.
The Bonaparte Era
Under the command of Joseph Bonaparte, feudalism was abolished, the baronial domains with the relative revenues were absorbed by the State, cities, lands and castles were forced to respect the laws of the Kingdom.
New land management criteria were introduced: these were capitalist and entrepreneurial criteria that improved production; structural reforms were made in a lot of fields: provincial and district councils were created, the court of cassation and 4 courts of appeal; public education was introduced, to which small bourgeois and wealthy families approached, with the aim of training a class of officials, magistrates, capable officers and eager to extend their influence. These reforms favored the development of local forces and activities, which made the provinces stronger.
On a social level, Apulia was invaded by brigands, who committed raids and acts of terrorism against the French; the latter were fed and encouraged by the Bourbons. The French responded to this phenomenon through reforms: the penalties were the incarceration and the killing of the brigands, the imprisonment of their families and the confiscation of all assets. Thanks to these laws and to the ferocity with which the French caught and killed the brigands, Apulia enjoyed for a certain period of relative social serenity.
When republican ideas began to arouse in the most educated citizens a strong desire for national unity, historical and linguistic identity and autonomy from the foreign populations that continually invaded Italy, the first secret societies arose, such as Carboneria and Giovine Italia, which had the aim of overthrowing the foreign government and spreading national sentiment among the masses. Immediately there were violent and bloody repressions. However, the trial had been triggered and when the time was ripe, General Giuseppe Garibaldi, together with his thousand men, managed to free Apulia from foreigners, annexing it to the Kingdom of Italy.
Where to go and what to see
The western zone
In Foggia there is the important Civic Museum, which preserves the Neolithic finds of the village of Passo di Corvo and of the Roman city of Arpi: pottery, tools, statues, bronze objects and reconstructions of primitive dwellings found in the archaeological site. Of great importance is the statue of Medusa, preserved on the first floor of the Museum. An important feature of the museum is its side façade, with an arch: it is all that remains of the ancient imperial palace of Emperor Frederick II of Swabia. The royal palace stood on the museum area, however almost all of it was destroyed by two earthquakes between 1600 and 1700 and by the air raids of the British air force during the Second World War.
A few kilometers north-east of Foggia is the Neolithic village of Passo di Corvo, the oldest and largest in Europe. The excavation area is very large and contains the reconstruction of the village with the hut, and the area dedicated to farm animals.
Credits: Itinerari dei musei e parchi archeologici (onlyfood.org/itinerari-dei-musei-e-parchi-archeologici/)
Not far from the Neolithic village is the archaeological site of Arpi, one of the largest and oldest cities of the Daunian Empire that was destroyed by Rome after the battle of Cannae and the defeat of the Carthaginian troops commanded by Hannibal. The city, in fact, had betrayed Rome siding with Carthage and this cost her freedom, the ability to coin money and the defensive walls. Very characteristics are the hypogeum of the Medusa and the tomb of the Knights, so called because of the fresco on the wall that depicts a procession of knights led by a charioteer.
In the historical center of the city stands the epitaph, a monument placed at the intersection of two tratturi (sheep tracks), which indicated the way back to the shepherds from Abruzzo arrived in Puglia for transhumance. At the top of the monument there is a small statue of Charles II, son of King Philip IV of Aragon. Linked to the phenomenon of transhumance is the customs building, built by the Aragonese to administer and manage the revenue from transhumance.
Foggia, moreover, is characterized by churches with various and ancient architectures: the church of San Lorenzo in Carmignano of the eleventh century, built in an area already inhabited by the Normans and subsequently readapted by Frederick II, who also had a domus built there.
Another Roman church is the church of San Tommaso, dating back to the eleventh century. Of a distinctly different style, however, are the baroque churches of St. Augustine and of Our Lady of Sorrows.
The pre-Roman city of Herdonia became important when the Appian Way was built, crossed by all those citizens who had to reach Brindisi to embark towards the East; this stimulated an important growth of commerce and, in fact, the economic status caused the provincial governor to move there and establish his seat there.
The city was later abandoned after an earthquake. In the XIII century Frederick II made a villa built nearby and repopulated the area; in 1500 it was abandoned again and repopulated by the Jesuits only in 1700.
Only 20-25% of the city has been brought to light, in particular the area of the forum with some domus, the baths, the tabernae and the macellum, shops and taverns that overlooked the forum. The few found sculptures are important because they highlight the relationship between Roman and Greek culture; it is worthy of note the glass kit instead of ceramic, some coins and a ceramic pot that contained the ashes of the dead. This is an interesting detail because it shows that the city replaced the custom of inhumation with that of cremation.
Ascoli Satriano is a very important place for Daunian culture and civilization. The City Museum contains some of the most incredible and unique artifacts from the whole history of pre-Roman civilizations; the most important of all is the trapezophoros, which is the base of a ritual table, depicting two griffins tearing a deer to pieces. It was found inside a tomb belonging to a daunian prince, probably a warrior of noble origins, who commissioned the work to the great Greek masters of the Hellenistic period; the marble with which it was made comes from the island of Paros, the same from which the architect Phidias took the marble for the construction of the Parthenon in Athens.
Among the other finds found there are numerous vases and full amphorae, used for the first time as architectural elements and not as containers of water, wine, oil or vinegar; among them, there is the very important podanipter, a container containing water for washing the feet; It is beautiful because of the painted and still well-preserved polychrome images, depicting the Nereid nymphs headed by Teti, mother of Achilles, riding on sea animals, while carrying to the warrior the weapons forged by Hephaestus for him, during the Trojan war. The painted figures still retain much of the brilliant colors of the era.
The crater, a perfectly preserved cup, still has traces of the ancient colors and beautifully carved shapes. Other interesting finds are the statue of Emperor Hadrian in the features of Apollo with the griffin.
To experience the places where once the ancient inhabitants of the Capitanata walked and spent their days, it is necessary to visit the archaeological park of the Dauni. This is a large area divided into two parts: the monumental area and the Necropolis on the Serpent hill, inhabited even by the Late Neolithic (VI-IV century BC). In the monumental area was found a Roman settlement consisting of a dromos, a corridor that leads to a barrel chamber in which the remains of a Roman woman of noble origins were found. The nearby museum contains interesting artefacts from the Dauna era: geometric decoration jugs, Greek ceramics from the 5th-3rd century BC, bronze necklaces and fibulae, coins from the Daunian Era. In the Daunian village it is possible to see the pavement road built by that ancient civilization with rounded and elongated stones arranged in an ear of wheat.
Not far from the city are the remains of Villa of Faragola, born as a Daunian settlement in the Carapelle river valley, which was abandoned during the VI century BC. and later the seat of a farm in Roman times, which soon began to be enlarged more and more until it became a patrician villa. The villa, in fact, respected all the canons of a good Roman villa: it was immersed in nature, far from the city, it was near a river, it was near an important road that led to the Aurelian - Haeclanensis Way, one of the highways of the Roman era. At first it was decorated with a mosaic floor, which was replaced by marbles during the IV-V century. In the area of the cenatio, the summer dining room, the baths were added with the various rooms of the calidarium, the tepidarium and the frigidarium with the swimming pool and the gym. The dining room consisted of a stivadium in masonry, on which the diners lay, in front of which ran a short stream that flowed into an artificial lake, created at the end of the dining room, so that the room was filled from the relaxing sounds of nature; the stivadium was decorated with glass paste and frescoed with a Dionysian scene depicting a woman dancing in front of a ritual vase with a snake wrapped around it. During the Middle Ages, the rooms of the villa were modified and readapted by a farm built during that period.
Other Roman architectural finds in the city are the bridge over the Carapelle River, built by the emperor Trajan during the campaign of restructuring the communication routes to the East in the second century. Its characteristic shape is humpback with three arches. Finally there are the fountains that the magistrate Publio Fundanio Prisco had built at his expense to reward the city for his loyalty to Rome and the value of its citizens.
The Romanesque Cathedral, built by the friars and dedicated to Saint Francis, dates back to the 13th century. It became a cathedral after the destruction of the old one due to an earthquake and over the centuries it was restored and embellished.
Not to be missed in Accadia is the clock square, which takes its name from the clock tower built in 1883. There are two panels on the tower that represent the siege of the city by the Aragonese in 1462 and the epigraph of the humanist Giovanni Pontano.
Next to the tower is the neoclassical monumental fountain built by Ferdinand II of Bourbon in the form of a double-gabled temple, supported by four columns with local stones in 1836. There are three drinking fountains and a tank used as a drinking trough.
From the square you can admire the ancient village called Rione Fossi with its monumental entrance, called Arco di Porta di Capo.
At 1105 meters above sea level stands the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Carmine, built between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, behind the cave where according to legend it appeared to a shepherd.
The most beautiful natural area of the city is the Paduli forest, 5 km from the city center, characterized by centuries-old trees and a large clearing inhabited by numerous birds of prey and mammals such as foxes, badgers, wild boar and wolves. Pietra di Punta is an enchanting place, rich in water springs and imposing rocks, inside the forest.
Worth being visited is the Norman-Swabian-Angevin castle. It was Built in the ninth century by the Lombards and renovated, enlarged and modified in the following centuries. Initially it had a triangular shape, but today it looks like an irregular trapezium with three corner towers built with local limestone. The arches and interior vaults are colored with ocher and yellow. Inside there is a large courtyard with an octagonal well for rainwater, an underground stables, warehouse and cellar. In this area there is the oldest part of the castle, the Longobard one. On the upper floor there are the soldiers' lodgings and then the Norman tower, the tallest of all. In the prisons there are Italian, Latin and Greek inscriptions and some drawings on the walls. The first owners were the Norman Family of Hauteville.
One of the most beautiful Romanesque cathedrals in Italy is located in Troia. It was built between 1093 and 1125 in Romanesque style with Pisan and Arab influences. The rosette is unique: 11 columns depict the apostles without Judas and radiate according to equal angles 32.72 ° which connect to a game of arches that divide the rose window into 11 sections. At the center of the rose window there is a stone circle reminiscent of a rope or a snake biting its tail, symbol of eternity, of death and resurrection, symbol of Jesus. The façade is rich in symbolic numbers: the rosette consists of 11 arches, sum of 6 and 5 representing the macrocosm and the microcosm, Heaven and Earth; the number 11 is the union of Heaven and Earth, earthly and divine. Above each column there is a form with three lobes, born from the intersection of three distinct circles, symbol of the Trinity. Inside there are 13 columns, depicting the apostles together with Jesus.
Of paleochristian origin, however, is the church of San Basilio Magno, built in masonry, it dates back to the 2nd century AD. On the façade there are the original portal with the mullioned window and two friezes perhaps from the Roman era and also two doors surmounted by a Roman architrave. Inside, the vault and the dome were rebuilt in the sixteenth century while the rest is original. It contains a baptismal font from the seventeenth century, a 6th century fresco and an 18th century canvas.
The treasure museum contains part of the church's findings such as silver, gilt bronzes, ivories, caskets, reliquaries and silver busts. The most important finds are the parchments made in 1034 containing papal letters and the three Exultet, miniated codes of exquisite workmanship, written by the Amanuensis monks.
Of great scenic value is the Natural Park of Lake Pescara of Biccari, characterized by a lake fed by underground springs and rich in fish, frogs and salamanders. There are numerous old trees, especially elms, maples, willows, firs and cedars and Mount Cornacchia, the highest in Puglia, is located a short distance from the lake and is a perfect destination for lovers of trekking. Not far from that zone there is the beautiful Byzantine tower, built there because of the view on the hills and on the plain below.
Lucera stands in the center of the Tavoliere delle Puglie, the second biggest plain of Italy. A very important city since the Daunian period it deserves to be visited because of several monuments, first of all the Cathedral, built after Charles of Anjou destroyed the city to drive away the Saracens, allies of Frederick II of Swabia, who destroyed the ancient church of the eleventh century to build the mosque. The church was consecrated in 1302 and designed by the Angevin proto-master Pierre d'Angicourt along with pugliese laborers. The style of the cathedral is Gothic-Angevin and in the following centuries were added and modified parts of the church according to the taste of the time. The façade is made of bricks, unlike all other gothic cathedrals and contains high-value finds such as the high altar, made from the table of Federico II in Fiorentino and the fourteenth-century statue of the Madonna.
Of the same period is the Basilica-sanctuary San Francesco Antonio Fasani, of Gothic style, erected in 1300-1301 by Charles II of Anjou after the expulsion of the Saracens and entrusted to the work of Pierre d'Angicourt. The frescoed apse is original and illuminated by three single windows that houses the body of Saint Francesco Antonio Fasani; subsequently, five side altars from the Baroque period were added, with wooden statues.
The Saracens who lived in Lucera and whose traces are evident in the Arab arches of the old town, lived in the Federician castle. The castle was built in the thirteenth century on the flat top of the Albano hill, on which in ancient times the acropolis of the Roman Luceria was located. From that position it dominated uncontested on the Tavoliere delle Puglie, defended on its sides by overhanging walls. In the twenties of the thirteenth century, Frederick built his Palatium to control the Saracen rebels deported from Sicily who soon turned Lucera into a Muslim city.
With the advent of the Charles of Anjou, the castle was erected together with the walls that transformed the ancient royal palace of Federico into a fortress. Under the courtyard there was a circular cistern that guaranteed water to the castle, the walls consist of 13 square towers, 2 pentagonal bastions, 7 buttresses and 2 cylindrical corner towers, which certainly were part of the ancient project of Federico for Lucera; in addition a large bridge was located on the moat and allowed access to the castle.
Lucera, however, has an ancient history and even the Romans left their testimony here, visible in the amphitheater of the Augustan age, one of the oldest in southern Italy and the most important in the entire Apulia due to its size. It is extraordinarily conserved with a capacity between 16,000 and 18,000 spectators. It was built by the magistrate lucerino Marco Vecilio Campo in an area of his property and at his expense in honor of Augustus. The reason lay in the fact that the emperor had declared Luceria as colony of Roman law, a title that gave the city a wide administrative autonomy, the possibility of having its own magistrates, the right to mint coins and the tax exemption. It could be accessed from two portals facing the city and Foggia respectively, and they had two Ionic columns. Near the amphitheater stood the athletes' gym, some public buildings and the infirmary. In 663 it was devastated and in 1233 Frederick II reused the remains to build his imperial palace.
A curious little road deserves to be visited: Vico di Ciacianella, whose width is just 45 centimeters narrow.
Finally, the museum of Lucera▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒ hosts great finds from the Neolithic to the modern age. The most interesting document is an immense collection of terracotta works from the temple of Juno Lacinia dating back to the first century. B.C. There is no shortage of statues such as that of Venus of praxitelic style, the Muslim pottery, mosaics from the Roman baths and coins.
Byzantine city called Florentinum, today it guests only the ruins of the city that it was. At that time, it housed few craftsmen, two or three judges, as many notaries and at least fifteen canons in his cathedral. There were at least six other churches. It certainly housed a Norman castle and a suburb at the other end of the spur on which lies and there must have been at least one farmhouse that disappeared when the Muslims occupied Lucera. In the thirteenth century the city began to lose importance until in the seventeenth century it finally died out. Frederick II had a domus built on the ancient seat of the Norman castle, in line with the king's political idea of defending the territory with peripheral castles, not internal. The interior walls of the domus were covered with beautiful stones and the structure consisted of two slightly elongated rooms. It also had to have an upper floor adorned with windows with carved columns. He visited the domus for the first time a few days before he died, as the soldiers had to move there; in fact it was the closest place to where they were when the emperor fell ill.
Gargano and isles
The Tremiti islands represent an extraordinary naturalistic heritage of the Daunia. They are wild and isolated with a crystalline sea surrounded by lush vegetation and limestone rocks. One of the most beautiful coves is Cala Matana, located on the island of San Domino, ideal for snorkeling and a swim in a beautiful turquoise sea. A few tens of meters away is the 20 meter high rock of the elephant that looks like an elephant drinking. San Domino also has a lighthouse which was damaged in 1987 by an attack ordered by Gaddafi who claimed the islands as belonging to his State. In this beautiful place there are also the architello, a natural arc into a rock, and the Pagliai (litterally: haystacks), which are four faraglioni (high and squared rocks) rising from the sea similar to blocks of straw.
In defense of the island of San Nicola rises the Badiali castle with its Angevin circular tower and the imposing boundary walls. The Cistercian monks with the consent of Charles of Anjou built numerous defensive works and the great Loggia of the Meridian cistern, so called because it is assumed that the friars used it to measure the hour through the sun's rays. The cistern is 17 meters deep and was used to collect rainwater. From the castle you can see the whole archipelago and it was possible to sight the pirates who used to attack the coasts and the islands. Before arriving at the castle you must go through a passage called the Salizada that leads to the tower of the crucifix that bears a warning on the architrave: "coteret et coniriget" which means "mash and crush", a clear warning to the enemy knights.
Inside the walls there is the Sanctuary of the Monastery and fortress of Santa Maria a Mare, numerous cloisters, the cells and the tower of the knight that represented the first defense bulwark against pirates.
Furthermore you can find, swimming in that wonderful sea, the Padre Pio statue on the sea bed. It looks to be close but really it is put very deep in the sea.
Carpino is a small village that climbs up steep lanes in the heart of the Gargano National Park, between Lake Varano and the Umbra Forest; its origins date back to the year 1000 BC when the last inhabitants of Uria, a city that disappeared into thin air, took refuge in the new city a few meters from the lake of Varano. It was the destination of several peoples including Normans, Angevins and Aragonese.
The Normans built the castle that still stands on the town, within the historic center. Later Frederick II had it reinforced further to better defend the city.
A few steps from the castle you can admire two churches in the Apulian Baroque style: San Nicola di Mira and San Cirillo, built in 1310 but renovated in Baroque style, which still preserves the ancient Romanesque portal.
In addition to the beautiful old town center characterized by houses attached to each other and interspersed with small streets with stairways, Carpino, along with Ischitella, home to an incredible forest full of beech trees over thirty meters and many species of birds (peaks, owls, pigeons) and mammals such as foxes, wild boar, roe deer, badgers, hares, wild cats.
Just outside the village there are the Caves of Minutillo, a small complex of cave dwellings dating back to the Middle Ages, carved in the soft limestone the Gargano with some wells, a stable, some rooms.
Also within the city, not far from the railway station, there is the Roman villa of Avicenna, dating back to the first century. B.C. and subsequently reused for various purposes, the last of which was a burial place in the VII century AD. Coins, glass, ceramics of various types and origin, oil lamps, agricultural tools, etc. have been found.
Isolated from the other cities of the Gargano and for this reason called La sperduta (The lonely) for a long time, it represents the pearl of the entire Gargano. It is an ancient city, according to legend Noah buried his wife Vesta (hence the name Vieste), according to historians, it is the ancient Apenestre. The medieval center is characterized by white houses, separated by stairs and small arches. One of the landmarks of the city is the Pizzomunno, a monolith of white limestone rock, 25 meters high to which is linked a legend.
The legend of Cristalda and Pizzomunno
At the time when the Vieste was just a village made up of small huts and inhabited by fishermen, there lived a young tall and strong fisherman named Pizzomunno. In the same village there was also a girl of rare beauty, with long, sun-colored hair, named Cristalda. The two young fell in love.
Pizzomunno every day faced the sea with his boat and timely the sirens emerged from the sea waves to sing sweet songs in honor of the fisherman. The s