GIOIA DEL COLLE
On the Murge plateau, 338
metres above sea level, is where one can find Gioia del Colle
which connects half way between the Adriatic and Ionic coasts.
Even though the territory results as inhabited since Neolithic
and Messapian eras, as confirmed by the existence of a Peucezio
centre in Monte Sannace from the 7th Century BC, today’s
habitation was developed from an ancient fort constructed
during the Byzantine era (6th Century), on the spot which
is the present day suburb of S. Nicola.
It then became a Norman stronghold during the 11th century,
which saw the reconstruction of its castle under Riccardo
Siniscalco d’Altavilla, and later the Swabians (1194-1268),
who reconstructed the castle previously destroyed by the Norman
Guglielmo I the Malo.
It appears that the pregnant Bianca Lancia, wife of Emperor
Federick II, was imprisoned here for betrayal. She gave birth
to their son Manfredi here in 1232.
Conquered by the Angioini during the second half of the 13th
Century, Gioia became part of the Principality of Taranto,
then the Earldom of the Acquaviva of Aragona Family and later
of the Princes De Mari.
It actively participated in the Carbonari (An association
which promoted independent ideas) and Renaissance clashes
which led the City to be part of the Unification of the Reign
of Italy through plebiscitary vote in 1860.
The main highlight of a visit to Gioia del Colle is definitely
the Norman-Swabian Castle, one of the most beautiful and well
preserved in the region. The Castle hosts the National Archaeological
Museum which exhibits remains of finds from the nearby archaeological
area of Monte Sannace.
To complete the visit to the suburb, interesting stops would
be: the Casa Torre (15th Century), Nardulli Arch (13th Century)
and the Cimone Arch.
Among the churches to visit: the Norman, with a present day
Baroque look Church of S. Angelo or S. Maria of Constantinople
and the Mother Church or S. Maria Maggiore (12th Century,
later reconstructed during the 18th Century), S. Antonio (17th
Century), which preserves a wooden crucifix and a series of
Outside the habitation one can visit the Dolmenica from Masseria
of the Port Necropolis, dating back to the II millennium before
Local products from Gioia del Colle: Primitivo wine and “Fior
di Latte” mozzarella cheese.