MILLENIA OF HISTORY IN BOVINO (APULIA), ONE OF “THE MOST BEAUTIFUL VILLAGES IN ITALY”

 

© Roberto Alborghetti Photos

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Bovino is an enchanting village of the Daunia Mountains, officially elected as one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in Italy”.  Founded by the Dauni population in 323 B.C., it was destroyed during the Samnite wars started in 343 BC and rebuilt by the Romans under the name of Vibinum. Its historical past is rich of battles and conquers: Byzantines, Lombards, Saracens and finally the Normans occupied the town, until the 13th century, when Bovino found a period of peace under the kingdom of Frederick II.

Bovino played an important role in the commercial connection between the Adriatic and the Tyrrhenian Sea. Traces of its past are still visible in the old town. The historical center of Bovino has a particular urban layout with narrow streets paved with cobblestones, arches, ruins of the Roman baths and aqueducts and several ancient buildings made with stone and tiled roofs. The old town also offers a number of about 800 refined stone portals, evidence of the role played by the city over the centuries.

Among the seven churches located in the village, the most important is the Cathedral Basilica, dedicated to St Mary of the Assumption, whose facade, realized in 1231 by the sculptor Zano from Gaul, gives an example of the primitive Gothic style that inaugurated the season of the Romanesque in Puglia. Its facate is asymmetric and the rose window shows a blown glass painting of Jesus Christ.

Another historical attraction of Bovino is the Castello Ducale, a refined castle built in 1045 by the earl Drogone “The Norman” from the ruins of an ancient Roman fortification. The castle was enlarged by Frederick II, to become the residence of the Spanish Dukes of Guevara in the 17th century. The Castello Ducale inhabited by the Guevaras’ descendants until 1961, was considered one of the most beautiful patrician houses of that century in the South of Italy. Torquato Tasso, Giovan Battista Marino, Maria Theresa of Austria and Pope Benedict XIII were some of the renowned personalities that found hospitality in the castle. In the chapel of the castle is conserved a silver reliquary containing a thorn from the crown worn by Jesus, probably donated by Pope Gregory XIII and Pope Innocent VIII.

Other historical treasures worth to be mentioned are the Church of Carmine built by the Jesuits in the 17th century, the neoclassical S. Maria delle Grazie, the old Church of St. Peter built in 1099 and example of Romanesque architecture with Byzantine elements, in which is preserved the painting “The Martyrdom of St. Peter” from the school of Caravaggio, the Church of Annunziata with its beautiful bell tower made of Trani’s stone and the Church of the Rosary built in 1205.

The Civic Museum is located in the “Pisani Palace” in Piazza Marino Boffa. It offers archeological findings from prehistoric, pre-Roman, Roman and medieval eras. Close to the Museum, we find the so called, Cantine Cerrato (Cerrato Cellars), one of the most important archaeological monuments of the urban fabric of Bovino’s underground. The Diocesan Museum has been  established in 1999 by the will of Archbishop Giuseppe Casale, to promote the artistic heritage of the Diocese of Bovino, dating back to the X century and active until 1979. Among the relics preserved, a miraculous thorn from Jesus‘ crown. We also recommend a visit to the Diocesan Library, located beside the Basilica Cathedral in Piazza Duomo.

The area also offers extensive natural itineraries and trails such as the forest of Salecchia, where it is easy to spot hawks and wild boar, the wood of Fenna and green area that host the holy sanctuary of “Valleverde”, blessed by Pope Juan Paul II in 1987.

 

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