Not too distant from the Adriatic
coast on the Murge plateau, is where one can find Conversano,
which guards and reveals an artistic patrimony of rare beauty.
The City was known as Norba by the Romans and was founded
during the Iron Age by the Lapigi (8th Century BC), an Illyrian
Then came the Hellenic period, like all other Messapian and
Peucetian (Poedicli) cities, which began in the 6th Century
BC, with the diffusion of the Hellenistic culture; work of
the powerful Greek colony of Taranto.
After the Pirro campaigns in Southern Italy (275 BC), the
City became part of Roman domination in 268 (BC). Norba (today’s
Conversano) enjoyed the development and peace which accompanied
the Augusteo period, sharing the fortune of the Roman Empire.
The 5th Century and the fall of Rome brought destruction by
the Visigoths of Alarico, which arrived here in 411 AD.
A Cupersanem country house was built on the ruins of the City
of Norba, during the Byzantine (5th-8th Century) and Longobard
Periods (8th-10th Century), without stirring much interest.
It was a dead period due to the continuous incursions from
the sea by the Saracens (9th and 10th Centuries).
Only with the arrival of the Normans in 1054, did Conversano
begin to acquire importance and beauty.
Goffredo of Altavilla was its first Lord, under whose rule
the Norman Castle was built. He was followed by the following
families: the Bassavilla (1134-1187), the Brienne (1269-1356)
who together with Gualtiero 4th desired construction of the
Casal Vecchio (Old Rural Home), the d’Enghien (1357-1381),
the Lussemburgo (1381-1407) who expanded the Castle, the Sanseverino,
the Barbiano (1411-1422),the Orsini (1422-1434) the Caldora
(1434-1440), and finally Giovanni Antonio Orsini del Balzo
(1440-1455), Prince of Taranto and Duke of Bari, who gave
the City as a dowry for his daughter Caterina, who married
Giulio Antonio Acquaviva of Aragona, Duke of Atri and Count
of Teramo, in 1455. This last family kept Conversano until
the abrogation of feudal rights in 1806, by Giuseppe Bonaparte.
After a brief period under Bourbon domination, Conversano
merged, as did all Southern Italian cities, with the new Reign
of Italy in 1860.
Conversano preserves many signs of past times, which can be
unveiled beginning with its ancient “ciclopiche”
Its square is the “buzzing” centre of the City,
which everyone calls “Largo della Corte.” Here
one can find the Romanesque Cathedral and beautiful Norman
Castle. Not to far away, one can enjoy the Benedictine Monastery
and the Churches of SS. Cosma and Damiano and Saint Caterina
, which complete a visit to the City.
One can also visit the Archaeological Park, which conserves
the remains of the ancient City of Norba, with its intact
Porta Maggiore and well preserved “ciclopiche”
On one of the two acropolises lies the remains of the so called
Castle of the waters, a thermal establishment.