Saturday, 31 January 2015

Latiano and the archaeological site of Muro Tenente

Latiano is a town located between Brindisi and Taranto.

Walking around the city center, I come across a church, chiesa madre S. Maria delle Neve (XV century).

Beside the main entry of chiesa madre, you find the statues of Pietro and Paolo, with spooky eyes.

I get a coffea in the main plaza, beside Palazzo Imperiali.

Latiano hosts a fantastic historic house museum called Fondazione Casa-Museo Ribezzi Petrosillo, run by Vittoria Ribezzi and her niece Bianca Ribezzi.

Bianca guides me through the exhibition.

She is very passionate and proud of what her family does for the local community.

I am very impressed by the archaeological artifacts displayed, which date back VI-III century BC.

The artefacts come from Muro Tenente, a Messapian archaeological site located 1 mile from Latiano.

The University of Amsterdam, led by the Professor Gert Jan Burgers, has carried out archaeological digs (1992-2002) in Muro Tenente.

I went there to see this site, which is pretty vast.

Part of the Messapian walls are still visible.

The historic house museum hosts rare artifacts such as the scepter Hermes, God of trade, thieves, travelers, athletes and guide to the Underworld. 

I see displayed fantastic golden necklaces and earrings.

Cistercian monks are settled in the monastery of Cotrino, which incorporates part of the site of Muro Tenente.

Around 20 years ago, some of these monks have destroyed the site included in their property.

This kind of abuse against the Italian archaeological heritage occurs on regular basis.

It should not be tolerated anymore!

Please click here, should you wish to view more pics.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Iapyges, the Pre-Roman inhabitants of Apulia

When I was student, I remember that I was due to study mainly the history of the Roman empire.

My teachers did not even mention the civilisations which preceded the Romans in Apulia.

I acknowledge that the Roman empire was something which to be proud of.

Nevertheless, the civilisation in Apulia did not commence with Romans at all.

So, today I am going to write about the Iapyges, who inhabited Apulia since the 11th century BC.

The Iapyges had got different names according to the Apulian area in which they have developed: Daunians at north (Foggia), Peuceti at centre (Bari) and Messapians settled down in the south (Lecce and Brindisi).

According to the Roman erudite Varro, the Iapyges descend from the melting pot of Illyrians (Balkans), Cretans (Greece) and natives.

The Illyrians were predominant, though.

What above does not apply to Taranto, funded by the Spartans in 706 BC.

Therefore, Taranto was Greek.

Recently, I have red a book written by Ettore De Julius, (Gli Iapigi, Storia e civiltà della Puglia preromana. Longanesi, 1988, Milano)

One of the main Iapygian cultural trait, can be found in the way they buried their deceased: by side, with flexed arms and legs.

Such an entombment is identical to those discovered in Dalmatia and Istria, Balkans (Illyria).

I have visited few Apulian archaeological museums: Manduria, Taranto, Latiano, Egnazia, Ruvo, Altamura, Canosa, Ascoli Satriano, Manfredonia, Foggia).

In my opinion, the most beautiful artifacts among the Iapyges belong to the Daunians.


Concerning the Messapians, what have struck me is their defensive system.

In other words, the Messapians had built up impressive megalithic walls to defend themselves from Taranto, the Spartan city.

Manduria provides the best example of this defensive system.

The war between Taranto and Messapians erupted in 473 BC.

Peuceti and Daunians joined the Messapians.

On the other hand, Reggio (Reggio Calabria) got allied with Taranto.

According to the Greek historian Herodotus, that was the worst defeat inflicted to Greeks: almost 3000 soldiers of Reggio and even a higher number of Tarantini had been killed.

After that, Taranto fell into a deep crisis.

The Spartan city evolved to a democratic regime, due to the massacre during the war of a tremendous number of aristocrats.

Talking about the Daunian stele, they were funerary monuments made by stone.

The Daunian stele remind me the giants of Mont'e Prana, in Sardinia.

The giants belong to the Nuragic culture, one of the most extraordinary prehistoric cultures.

John Hooper on the the guardian: The Giants of Monte Prama include statues of archers, wrestlers and boxers carved in sandstone probably between the ninth and eight centuries BC, before Rome was even founded. They belong to the Nuragic civilisation, which flourished on Sardinia for two millennia until the second century AD.

However, this is another story...

Monday, 12 January 2015

Cannabis in Apulia

Today, I am going to tell you a story which gravitates around a plant, a special one.

In the middle of December, while walking in the city centre of Brindisi, I came across a tiny shop which actually displayed food and drinks made of cannabis.

“Is that possible to arrange an interview about this products?” I enquire. “Of course, you can talk with me. I am the president of Assocanapa in Apulia.” Andrea replies.

Great, I think to myself.

We exchanged each other the mobile number.

Therefore, I promised him that I would have called soon after the Christmas holidays.

A couple of days ago, I went to visit Andrea.

He runs a company, Crea, which studies and realizes solutions in terms of green economy.

He looks pretty busy and plenty of things to do.

“I have a land close to Torre Guaceto where I have planted 12 hectares of cannabis for industrial purposes.” Andrea says.

“After having harvested it, I sell it all to the South Hemp Tecno, located in Crispiano (Taranto). The company is run by Rachele Invernizzi.”.

This plant has always been used by human beings to make clothes, ropes, paper and so on.

The French and American Constitutions have been written on paper of cannabis.

Nevertheless, just before the 2nd world war, the United States initiated the industrial development where oil took over the cannabis role.


“Oil implies a hierarchical system.  Renewable energies are horizontal, impossible to be controlled.” Andrea states.

In 1937, DuPont patented nylon.

In 1938, Roosevelt introduced a tax on each transaction related to cannabis.

The scope was to discourage the use of derived of cannabis.

“Italy was till the ‘50ies the second largest producer of cannabis in the world, behind Russia. Emilia Romagna, Piemonte and Campania were leaders of producing this special plant.

The plant we are talking about is the cannabis sativa, which contains a max of 0,2 THC.

“The Italian legislator should modify this value because that figure, introduced by the French, it is fine for a Nordic country. The plants cultivated in Italy benefit of a warmer weather, which implies a higher THC.” Andrea points out.

The Italian law says that you can plant just certified seeds.

ENZE is the national organization which certifies seeds.

Once they germinate, it is mandatory to report (autodenuncia) it to the police.

Italy buys a drug named Bediol (Bedrocan) from Holland, at a very high price.

The point is that Bediol is just dry weed, ready to be smoked, but only for therapeutical purposes.

Yes, because in our consumerist society, it is strictly forbidden to smoke it just for pleasure.

However, Apulia has been the first Italian region to adopt a project devised by the Apulian association LapianTiamo

Therefore, Apulia promulgated a law which allowed the cultivation and distribution of weed to the ASL, for therapeutic purposes.

The regional law has been stopped because, at the end, Italy has promulgated a very similar law which extend that idea to the entire country.  

This plant never quits of surprising us for its polyvalent.

In Taranto, a farmer who was obliged to kill all his sheep because plenty of dioxin, has planted cannabis in his farm in order to decontaminate the soil.

“There is in Italy a scientist, Stefano Mancuso, who runs the International laboratory of plant neurobiology, within the University of Florence. Plants are intelligent”. Andrea says.

Another amazing application of cannabis is within the green building. 

So, we are talking about bricks made of cannabis, which require much less water to be made. 

Additionally, such a bricks are fire-resistant as well as insulating.

Last but not least, canapa during its lifecycle, absorbes between 9 and 12 tons of CO2.

So, what the hell we are waiting for…?

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Frederick II the Swabian, puer Apuliae...

“At that time died Frederick, the greatest among the Princes on earth, stupor mundi and wonderful innovator”.

This is the Matteo da Parigi's quote reported on the above monument donated by German turists, who visited Castelfiorentino (Foggia). 

Castelfiorentino is the place where Frederick passed away.

It is located in north of Apulia, close to Torremaggiore (Foggia).

Nowdays, Castelfiorentino does not exist anymore.

Are left just the ruins of what once was a catle, one of the hundreds built up by the Swabian in the South of Italy.

Frederick was born in Jesi (Marche) the 26th of December 1194. 

He was defined puer Apuliae (Apulian boy) though.

Frederick spoke six languages: Latin, Arabic, Sicilian. German, French and Greek.

He grew up in Palermo, a city in which he got familiar with several cultures.

At that time, the Pope declared war to the Muslims who lived on the Holy land.

Crusade after crusade, the Vatican had in its hands the destiny of the European kingdoms.

Nevertheless, Frederick went to Jerusalem not before having dealt peaceful  agreemends with the Al-Malik Al-Kamil.
Sultan of Jerusalem

Friederick married one of his daughter.

Frederick had four spouses, however, Bianca Lancia was his favourite.

Bianca Lancia gave birth to Manfredi, who actually became his successor.

Frederick II died the 13th of December 1250.

Manfredi, his son, will rule for few more years.

The Swabians will be wiped out by the Pope, who will then impose its power over the South of Italy through the Angevins, French. 

The Holy Inquisition was ready to begin its bloody job in Europe.

Medieval festivals are held in Apulian cities such as Altamura, Manfredonia, Brindisi, Oria, Lucera to remember the Swabian.

Stupor mundi will never be forgotten by Apulians.