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  • Bisceglie

    From: Barletta-Andria-Trani Province, Puglia

    Bisceglie Port
    Bisceglie Port - Andrea Rinaldi
    "It is a site of strength for not a hill threatens it in all the country roundabout, nor can it be easily mined for the reason that it is founded upon naked stone."3

    Bisceglie is an old (originally walled) town with ancient Renaissance palaces, built on the site of a Bronze Age settlement. The name is said to mean "the shading oak". The Romans had a settlement there which they called Vigiliae. Mysterious dolmen, ancient Middle Bronze Age (3000-1000 BC) tombs, dot the countryside. Today's Bisceglie was built by the Normans in the 11th century. Norman Count Peter I built the castle and tall Torre Maestra and fortified the town during the 11th century to protect Bisceglie from invading Saracens. When the Anjous later took power, it became a fief of the Del Balzo family, who in the 14th century-built town walls strong enough to withstand cannon blasts. It passed into the hands of handsome Don Alfonso of Aragon, illegitimate son of Naples King Federigo, husband of Lucretia Borgia, in the 15th century – the town was part of her dowry. Don Alfonso soon became aware that his brother-in-law, Cesare Borgia, disliked him, and in August 1500 Alfonso was murdered, reportedly at the behest of Cesare. The town began planting cherry trees during the 16th century, and their fruit is now the town's symbol and centerpiece of their festival each June. Bisceglie is popular with vacationers who flock to bathe on its beautiful beaches and stroll the lungomare. One of the oldest churches in Puglia, the Church of St. Adoneo Dado, is found in Bisceglie. The name honors the Norman protector, Bishop of Rouen. According to Bisceglie legend, Norman soldiers helped build the church. In the Church of Santa Margherita are ancient tombs of members of the Falcone family, founders of Bisceglie.

    The founders of Bisceglie were resolved to establish it as a godly and exclusive city. Laws were enacted in 1463 that no Jews or other heretics were to live in the walls; they might however be admitted for three days at a time. If they overstayed this permission, they were liable to have their goods confiscated and to receive a sound beating. The incivility of the ordinance did not discourage them from punctually attending the weekly market day and the semi-annual fairs.4

    3Through the Heel of Italy, K. Hooker, pg 102
    4Through the Heel of Italy, K. Hooker, pg 105

    Next Page: Canosa di Puglia

    In this article:
    Barletta-Andria-Trani Province, Puglia
    Canosa di Puglia
    Margherita di Savoia
    Minervino Murge and San Ferdinando di Puglia
    Related resources:
    Puglia Region Guide

    Comunes of Italy, Issue 71, Nov.-Dec. 2009


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