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From: Barletta-Andria-Trani Province, Puglia
Barletta, called Barduli, Bardulos, Barulum or Baruli in Roman times, shows evidence of a settlement there from the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. The city sits on the Adriatic, south of the mouth of the Ofanto River. Barletta belonged to the Normans and the Swabians, but under Angevin rule it flourished, with its harbor busy with trade from the East. It is also the site of the famous "Barletta. Challenge", called the "Disfida di Barletta". It occurred during the 1503 war between France and Spain for control of southern Italy – Italy sided with Spain. Thirteen French and Thirteen Italian Knights led by Ettore Fieramosca squared off after the French Captain La Motte accused the Italians of cowardice. The challenge actually took place on a patch of land between Andria and Corato that belonged to the Republic of Venice and was therefore considered neutral territory. The Italians won and captured the Frenchmen; Spain later defeated the French and won control of southern Italy. Each year the challenge is re-enacted on February 13th, with an immense crowd of Italian and French tourists in attendance. Barletta is also home to the site of the Canne della Battaglia, a famous battle between Romans and Hannibal's Carthaginians. The city of Barletta is also well known for the "Heraclius colossus" ("Colossus of Barletta"), an 18' tall bronze statue dating back to the 4th century, possibly representing Roman Emperor Theodosius II. During the Middle Ages it was a Norman stronghold – in 1228 Frederick II announced the departure of the 6th Crusade from the 10th century Hohenstaufen Castle (Castello Svevo) in Barletta. Impressionistic painter Giuseppe de Nittis was born in Barletta. The city was awarded two gold medals for its resistance to the Nazis during World War II. Genealogy researchers will be interested to know that outbreaks of cholera took place in the city (and probably in surrounding towns) in 1836, 1854, 1865, 1866, 1867, 1886 and finally 1910 when the bacillus brought by Barletta fishermen killed tens of thousands in southern Italy.
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Comunes of Italy, Issue 71, Nov.-Dec. 2009
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