Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Manfredonia, a seatown with royal roots

Few days ago I went to Manfredonia.

An old friend of mine would have got married the day after, so I participated in his stag party.

Therefore, we went to the Casbah, a nice disco pub in Siponto, one mile far from Manfredonia.

Manfredonia takes its name by the King who founded it: Manfred King of Sicily, son of Friedrick II of Hohenstaufen.

It is a sea town. It has one of the biggest fishing fleet in Italy: 250 fishing boats.

It is probably the most vibrant city within the province of Foggia.

If you take a walk along Corso Manfredi, you will find people walking and chatting at any time.

If you go to Manfredonia, I highly recommend you to visit the MAD (Archeological Museum of Daunia), which is hosted within the Swabian-Angevin castle.

The Museum hosts few interesting exhibitions, the most important one concerns the stele daune

The Daunians originally came from  a region in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula inhabited by the Illyrians

Around Manfredonia, there are two churches, brilliant examples of the Romanico Pugliese art.

The Romanico Pugliese is the synthesis of Romanic art which took place in Europe, combined with Arabic and Byzantine arts. 

For this reason, Apulia may rightly be considered the “European bridge to the Middle East”.

The first church is Santa Maria Maggiore di Siponto, cathedral of the ancient Siponto.

Completed in the 12th century, It is considered the first example of Romanico Pugliese.

This church has typical elements of Arabic and Armenian arts.

The second church is the S. Leonard’s abbey, built up in the 12th century, probably by the Templar Order.

Within the church, you can see cross paintings, which recall the Knights of the Teutonic Order (German medieval military order) which ruled the abbey from 1261 till 1475.

The most fascinating elements of the church are two gnomon holes.

So, Every year, a unique astronomical phenomenon occurs on the 21st of June (summer solstice) and on the 22nd of September (autumnal equinox).

In the summer solstice, at 12:58, when the sun reachs the zenit, the light goes through a gnomon hole, painting on the ground a flower of eleven petals.

According to the Cabala, 11 symbolizes strenght and light, both the qualities are obviously referred to God.

In the autumnal equinox, the sun light goes through a second gnomon, painting an almond, which according to the Christian tradition symobilzes the Virgin Mary.

Currently, works in progress are being carried out. So if you wish to visit it, I'd suggest you to e-mail to s.leonardo.manfredonia@iricostruttori.com

If you wish to view more pics, please click here

Saturday, 26 July 2014

the wine of Greek Gods

Yesterday evening, while driving towards Altamura, I passed by Palazzo S. Gervasio (Basilicata), a bunch of miles from Apulia.

In this land the paesants produce a wonderful wine named Aglianico del Vulture.

It is a red wine based on the Aglianico grape, produced in the Vulture area.

The legend wants that the Greeks, who migrated to the South of Italy, introduced this grape between the 7th and 6th century BC.

Therefore, me, Lucia and her Mum decide to go to Palazzo S. Gervasio and buy this legendary wine.

We come accross an old man, with red cheeks: "excuse me Sir, we would like to buy some local wine...".

And the old man, with a friendly smile on his face replies: "well, you better go to the main plaza, and ask for it to one of the men sat down there".

Therefore, we head to the main plaza. Once there, I begin to ask around.

At last, we find our man. His name is Michele.

He looks very calm and happy to sell his wine.

So, he leads us to his wine cellar.

It looks a Museum of the peasant civilization.

He produces around 500 litres of Aglianico.

He complaints that he works really hard to look after his small vineyard.

I decide to buy 25 litres of his wine. I trust him so much that I even do not ask Michele the price. I am confident that I am going to drink one of the best wine ever.

Then, I taste his wine...

What can I say? I just feel like Zeus on the top of Olympus.

Michele tells us that his father died a couple of years ago. Michele assures us that he uses the same techniques his father used to.

Finally, the wine container is filled. For 25 litres of wine is asks me just 50 euros. In other words, just 2 euros per liter. Unbeliveble!

I carry on the wine container and put it into my small car.

I say good bye to Michele and his friends. I feel like I have made new friends.


If you wish to view more pics, please click here

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Vignanotica, the white rocks beach

Vignanotica is a place in the hearth of Gargano, the north side of Apulia.

Gargano is named the "Holy Mountain" due to its high degree of spirituality.

Vignanotica is within the Gargano National Park.

This park is famous for so many reasons.

The most important one is that it is the richest area in Italy in terms of biodiversity.

Today I went there to spend an entire day.

Firstly, I decided to walk along one of the several nature trails available.

It took me a couple of hours to complete one of around 5 miles long.

The place is quiet, ideal for those who look for peace.

The environment there is just so beautiful. The air is reinvigorating. In other words, I am just surrounded by the Mediterranean scrub.

Then, I decided to go to the beach.

I have to admit that I am just astonished by the bright white of the rocks along the beach.

I have never seen anything like that so far.

The sea is clean and fresh.

I lay myself down to sunbath. While looking at the sky, I hear a French family coming over.

Their surprise is great.

I feel glad for them.

Actually, they seem to me pretty much rewarded for the journey which brought them from France to Apulia.

If you wish to view more pics, please click here

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Once upon a time Torre Santa Sabina...

This time, me and Lucia go to visit Torre Santa Sabina, a village by the sea, a couple of miles far from Carovigno.

Walter and Ryan, two friends of us, invite us to go to the beach there.

The coast alternates a mix of rocks and sand. It offers several places where to sunbath and swim.

The sea is just limpid and clean.

Walter knows very well this place. Therefore, he leads us to view what originally was supposed to be a small port used since the Bronze age.

The potholes in the bedrock are still visible. Filled by wooden poles, they were used to moor ships.

Torre Santa Sabina was the dock of Carbina Messapica (the actual Carovigno) since the 7th century BC

Archeological researches have been resumed in 2009 to investigate further on shipwrecks of different ages.
The shipwrecks lies at just three metres on the bottom of the sea.

The historical richness of this place includes something else, pretty unique, I would say.

That is the tower, from which the village takes its name.

Tower "a cappello di prete" (priest hat).

With a star shape, it has its edges oriented towards the cardinal points.

This tower is one of dozens built up along the Apulian coast during the 15th and 16th century.

The purpose was to defend the coasts from the Saracens' attacks.

In the evening, we all go for a relaxing walk.

Lots of people are around.

kids play football on the beach.

The old people are sat down, looking at them remembering the green years.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

MARTA, the splendor of Taranto

MARTA is not just a female name

In this case, MARTA stands for Archeological Museum of Taranto.

Renewed in 2007, the Museum displays a permanent exhibition which embraces Prehistory and Proto-history, Greek period, Roman age till the Middle Age

Let me say that the best part of it is the Greek period. At that time, Taras (greek name of Taranto), a Spartan colony, became rich and powerful.

Bought the ticket, I begin to follow the path.

The the first room is big, very big.

Right in the middle there is a large amphora. Just at the bottom of it, there is an advise which says that it was returned by the USA.

It was previously displayed in an American Museum, which probably bought it from the black market.

Grave robbers are a big problem for a country like Italy, which has an archeological site almost in every village.

However, the Italian governament managed to get it back. And this is what counts.

According to the exhibition, Taranto was supposed to be very rich. I have never seen so many golden artifacts like I did in MARTA: hair slides, rings, necklaces, bracelets.

The aristocratics were supposed to be plenty of money; moreover, very sensitive to be good looking

The golden artifacts are very well made. Undoubtedly, there were at the time expert goldsmiths. Additionally, I assume there was a huge quantity of gold in Taranto.

The Roman section of MARTA is an additional reason to come here and visit it.

The mosaics look so great that they seem carpets.

I have always been told that MARTA is a great Museum. Now, I know why.

Therefore, if you wish to have an idea about Magna Graecia, now you know where to go to.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Taranto, the Spartan city

I have travelled a lot accross Apulia. However, I have never been in Taranto.

That's a shame, I acknowledge it.

The 5th of July, me and Lucia get on our small car and head to Taranto.

Taranto is a city rich of history, with a glorious past. It was founded by the Spartans in 706 century BC.

A fascinating legend goes that Taras, the son of Poseidon and of the nimph Satyrion, arrived in the harbour of Taranto riding a dolphin. The flag of Taranto city seems to agree with the myth.

Taranto soon became strong and rich. After several wars, it turned into the capital of Magna Grecia.

We have one day to spend in Taranto, so we decide to visit firstly the MARTA (Archeological Museum of Taranto); then, Taranto vecchia.

Taranto vecchia (literally "old Taranto") is ancient core of the city. This is the oldest part of Taranto, accessible from the rest of the city just by a revolving bridge.

After having parked the car, we walk along the main road, which leads us to the ruin of Doric Greek temple.

Taranto vecchia is very much different from the rest of Taranto. People there belongs mainly to the working class. It is the fishermen's quarter.

The kids play in large number along the narrow streets. The shadow of the ILVA's factory looms over them.

Taranto vecchia is plenty of old buildings and churches.

Some of them are abandoned, still untouched though.

From my point of view, the relaunch of the city goes through the regeneration of Taranto vecchia.

This part of the city has a great potential.

The sun is setting. We begin to feel tired.

It is time to have dinner, so we stop by a seafood restaurant to eat mussels, one of the symbol of Taranto.

The next post will deal with the MARTA, the Archeological Museum of Taranto.

The Museum has been renewed since a couple of years.

The artifacts displayed there are unique.
See you soon

If you wish to view more pics, please click here

Monday, 7 July 2014

Gnatia (Egnazia), an exciting archeological site in Apulia

My current location is Brindisi, in Apulia of course.

I was born in Manfredonia, north of Apulia.

There, my parents currently live.I live in Brindisi since one year. 

Lucia, my girlfriend, lives with me. She comes from Altamura (Apulia), well known mainly for the bread, which I admit is unique.

So, few days ago we decide to go to Altamura for the week-end. I drive my small car easy, bloody easy according to Lucia. 

I drive easy because I get sidetracked watching the landscape, the sea, the countryside. It is so relaxing.

We have driven almost 30 miles when I decide to leave the main road for a secondary one, which is along the sea. I wish to breath the sea air.

Lost in our thoughts, we visualize a road sign which informs that we are coming in the archeological area of Gnatia (Egnazia in Italian).

Nowdays, Gnatia is just an archelogical area. However, it has been for centuries a very important Messapian city (8th – 3rd century BC).

From the 3rd century BC, the Romans took over the city, building up the Amphitheatre and the Acropolis.

Additionally, The Via Traiana accrossed Gnatia. The Via Traiana, a branch of the via Appia, linked Benevento to Brindisi.

I beg Lucia for visiting the area, Museum included. She agrees.

So, I stop the car along the road. Like a boy, I grab my camera and run towards  the Acropolis in order to take few pictures. 

The Acropolis is just 50 yards from the sea. 

I take pictures of the Messapian port, most of it still intact.

I bump into two Italian tourists from Milan.

They are on the beach to enjoy the sun and to swim. “it’s really nice here”, the lady says.

I reply: “You are right in the middle of a very important archeological area”.

They seem to be not aware of what surrounds them.

It is incredible how some Italians do not feel touched by the beauty of their country.

Italy has almost the 50% of the worldwide cultural heritage. 

Nevertheless, the Italian governament assign just unsignificant resources to its Cultural heritage. It is a shame.

Me and Lucia pay three euros each to entry the museum. It contains statues, mosaics and paints on the rocks. 

It is impressive the quantity of artifacts displayed. The exhibition embraces from the Bronze age (15th century BC) till the Roman conquest.

I am astonished by the beauty, the richness of the history of this site.

What really hits me are the Messapian ditch tombs of the 4th and 3rd  century BC. 

In most cases, these tombs are grouped together in a wider ditch, which probably contained members of the same family.


It is almost 3.30 pm, and we have to leave. 

The Lucia’s mum is waiting for us. 

We leave Gnatia phisically exhausted. 

However, I have the feeling that my spirit has evolved a little bit. 

If you wish to see more pictures, please click here