This City of olives, situated
in Bari, along the Adriatic coast, has witnessed embarkation
of indo-European populations coming from the East. One of
these populations, after its arrival on the Adriatic coast
of Illyria, gave the origins to the Peucetian population,
who founded Butuntum. Tradition assigns the City’s foundation
to King Illirico Botone.
The City subsequently became Greek under the influence of
Taranto, but retained its autonomy and minted its own currency.
The City was taken from the Romans after clashes with King
Pirro of Epiro (3rd Century BC) and was a municipium during
the Republic and Imperial area, then became an important thoroughfare
of Via Traiana.
After the fall of Rome and the subsequent Barbaric invasions,
it became part of the Ostrogoth Reign (476-535) before it
was cancelled from the Roman Western Empire, due to the Greek-Gothic
war (535-553) and to which a large part of Southern Italy
It remained Byzantine even after the fall of the Longobards
of Alboino in Italy during 569, but it was conquered by them,
together with a large part of Puglia (616), shortly afterwards.
It remained like this until the fall of the Francos (774),
who possessed it until Longobard domination which gave new
wind to the Byzantine conquests around the year 1000, and
who dominated the entire region. In 975, the Saracens were
defeated by the Byzantines commanded by Zaccaria.
Byzantine governing created dissatisfaction in the population,
who united with the League of Communes in Puglia. Thanks to
Norman support commanded by Roberto the Guiscard, it was liberated
from the Byzantine yoke.
During this period, the Cathedral was built and Bitonto obtained
privileges which it kept during successive domination by the
With the advent of the Angioini accession to the throne of
Naples (1266), it became a Marquisate and knew the lordship
of numerous families, among which the Caldora (1412), Ventimiglia,
Orsini, Acquavia, Cordova (1503), until it became a free city
in 1552 after a payment of 66,000 ducats. From this moment
on, the City enjoyed a rosy period, both economically and
artistically, so much so, that in 1669 it became the second
most important city in Puglia.
On 25th May 1734, the battle between the Austrians (in Puglia
from 1707) and Spanish, saw an Austrian defeat, thus securing
possession of the Kingdom of Naples for the Bourbons.
In 1860, Bitonto was annexed to the Reign of Italy.
A visit to the City should begin with its Cathedral of S.
Valentino (12th and 13th Century) in Romanesque style, containing
a crypt dating back to the previous era (5th-6th Century).
The historical centre is enriched by Renaissance buildings,
including Palazzo Sylox-Calò (1529-83), Palazzo Sylos-Vulpano
(1445), Palazzo De Lerma (16th Century) and the contemporary
Palazzo De Ferraris-Regna.
It is impossible to name every church but we can highlight:
the Chiesa del Crocifisso (Church of the Crucifix) which is
just outside the City and the Chiesetta dell’Annunziata
The City is still surrounded by its ancient Medieval walls,
which contain the Maja and Baresana Portals. The Torrione
Angioino (13th Century) is also worth mentioning.