In ancient times, in the place
were Cerignola is situated, lies a village probably inhabited
by the Daunii, a population with Lapigian origins and therefore,
Illyrian, which was known by the name of Keraunaia.
The old habitation was destroyed by Alessandro I of Epiro,
known as Molosso, during clashes between the Messapian cites
and the Greek-Spartan Taranto, in 324 BC.
Its inhabitants initially escaped, founding new centres in
the surrounding territory, but who subsequently, during Roman
times, reunited around the Castle of Roman administration,
an administration of immense garrisoned granaries which were
guarded by Roman soldiers and therefore considered safe places.
This is how Cerignola was founded.
After construction of Via Traiana (108 BC), an alternative
route to Via Appia (Appian Way) which arrived in Brindisi,
Cerignola became famous as a rest stop and for a change of
horses, known as today’s San Domenico Church.
The end of the Roman Empire saw the beginning of a dark period
of barbaric invasions by the Goths of Alarico (411 AD) and
the Vandals of Genserico (middle of the 5th Century AD). After
the Ostrogoth Reign (476-535) in Italy and the Greek-Gothic
War (535-553), which sanctioned the conquest of Puglia by
the Byzantines, Cerignola was centre of battles between the
Longobards and Byzantines. The Saracens, who were present
in Sicily since the 9th Century, then entered and carried
out their own raids along the coast of Puglia.
The Normans arrived in Cerignola in 1040 and gave development
and prosperity to all the centres in Puglia, which continued
later under Swabian domination (1194-1268). This period saw
the formation of a village centre, with protective walls and
The advent of the Angioini coincided with a period of decline
for Cerignola, during which the City was subjected to various
feudatories. The Angiò handed the City over to the
Parisiis in 1271, then followed the Artus, the Vicini and
In 1418, Giovanna II of Angiò, Queen of Naples, sold
Cerignola to Ser Gianni Caracciolo, who then became sole landowner
of 12,000 dukedoms.
The Battle of Cerignola was fought on 28th April 1503, which
saw a line up against the Spanish and French armies and which
was resolved in defeat of the latter.
In fief, it passed via marriage in 1611 to the Pignatelli
family, where it remained until abolition of the feudal system
on 2nd August 1806.
During the 18th Century, Cerignola was stage for various natural
disasters. The earthquake of 1731 is memorable, which destroyed
part of the Castle.
As a result of integral reclamation of the surrounding inhabited
territory, Cerignola became one of the main centres of agricultural
development in Southern Italy.
Cerignola is worth a visit as its Medieval habitation in the
village known as Terra Vecchia (Old Land), has remained intact.
Here one can walk through characteristic cobbled alleyways
and visit the Madre Church (11th-13th Century) and those of
Saint Augustine and San Leonardo (15th Century).
Outside the City, a visit to the Chiesetta of Ripa Alta is
recommended, which preserves the famous Byzantine Icon of
the Madonna of Ripalta; a painting dating back to 500 AD,
figuring the Madonna, patron of Cerignola. Her patron feast
day is celebrated yearly on 8th September.