THE TOWN AND ITS HISTORY
It is not known with certainty the time or the century in which the city founded among the rocky and mysterious ravines on the left side of the ravine arose, just as we do not know the time in which the name of Gravina. In geology the term “gravina” indicates a depression in the ground produced by water erosion and can be compared to the German “graben” (pit) or to the pre-Latin terms “graba” (rock) and “rava” (rocky cliff) or to the Greek “Bothros”. The name Gravina is mentioned in the Chronicon of Romualdo Salernitano, archbishop of Salerno from 1154 to 1181, on the occasion of the incursion made by the Saracens in the city in 976 after Christ. Lying at the confluence of valleys between ancient Peucezia and Lucania, not far from Daunia, Magna Grecia and Sannio, historically most famous regions, it can be assumed that the city of Gravina overlooked history between the 8th and 7th centuries BC, as evidenced by the archaeological finds found on the plateau of the hill of Botromagno and in the area of Padre Eterno, so named for the presence in a cave of Byzantine frescoes dating back to the XII century. Thanks to the relationships and, perhaps, to a merger with Magno-Greek populations who moved inland after the destruction of Sybaris (6th century BC). This would explain the demotic ∑I Δ I N Ω N engraved on the locally minted coins and the presence of Greek roots in the dialect still spoken today. With the conquest of Rome, the land became an important center on the Via Appia with the name of Silvium or ad Silvianum and Silutumof the most famous ancient itineraries. Naturally, with the fall of the Roman Empire (476 AD) the land was not immune from the ruinous raids of irregular bands of barbarians, who did not completely destroy the inhabited centers, but reduced their economic and cultural potential. It is clear that many continued to live there, as evidenced by the presence of rock churches on the right side of the ravine. The most daring citizens climbed into the ravines of the left bank of the ravine to give life to the districts of Fondovicoand Piaggio. Linked to the history of the region, it suffered enslavement to the Lombards, the Byzantinesand became a land of conquest by the Saracens. After a long period of serious difficulties, the city recovered with the advent of the Normans: with Count Umfrido d’Altavilla it had the Cathedral (11th century). Then with the Swabians, Frederick IIhad the Castle built (13th century). After the defeat of Manfredi in Benevento(1266) it passed to the Angevinswho, wanting to affirm Christianity, destroyed the Jewish synagogue and drove out the Jews who rejected Christianity. The economic and cultural rebirth of the city is attributed to the Aragonese who entrusted the duchy to the Roman senator Francesco Orsini (1425). Thanks to the permanence of the Orsini for several centuries, the city was enriched with monuments, but above all it met the most illustrious person on earth. Infatti, nel 1650 dal duca Ferdinando III Orsini d’Aragona e da Giovanna della Tolfa nacque Pier Francesco. The eldest son of this prestigious family, he renounced the splendor of the ducal court to embrace the monastic life which in 1724 brought him to the papal throne with the name of Pope Benedict XIII. With the departure of the Orsini from Gravina (1817) the city fell back into anonymity. (texts by Prof. Giovanni Pacella – Benedict XIII Association) The Territory
Gravina is a city in Puglia, in the province of Bari, of about 45,000 inhabitants. Located 350 meters above sea level and about 60 km from Bari, it borders to the south with Basilicata. It is located between the pre-Lucanian Apennines and the Murgia.
Part of the city extends on the banks of a deep crevasse, very similar to canyons, carved into the limestone by the Gravina stream, a tributary of the Bradano, from which the famous ravines of the Murgia take their name, in an area characterized by the presence of numerous karst cavities, like the Pulicchio di Gravina. 6 km from its inhabited center, the “Difesa Grande” municipal wood extends, one of the most important wooded complexes in the whole of Puglia, a site of community importance. Gravina is also one of the 13 municipalities that make up the territory of the Alta Murgia National Park (among other things it houses the headquarters of the Park Authority), a vast area of 68,077 hectares characterized by a karst territory and a powerful expression of nature, which over the centuries have undergone the anthropic work, but always respectful of the places. Masserie, jazzi, neviere, dry stone walls stand out against a landscape that boasts one of the most incredible varieties of fauna and plant species.
The city of Gravina boasts an ancient history. Numerous are, in fact, the archaeological finds that testify the first settlements as early as the ancient Paleolithic in the fifth millennium BC. The happy geographical position, the richness of the territory and the availability of water from the “la Gravina” stream, certainly favored the presence of man who lived in perfect symbiosis with the environment that hosted him. century, Gravina (which was part of the Peucezia, which with the Daunia to the north and the Messapia to the south constituted the territory of the Iapigi) experienced a period of cultural and economic wealth thanks to the intensification of its relations with the Greek world of nearby Taranto. It is called with the name of Sidion, it surrounds itself with walls and minted its own coin called Sidinon (∑I Δ I N Ω N). In 305 BC it was conquered by the Roman people who changed its name from Sidion to Silvium and made it an important agricultural and commercial center due to the adjacent Via Appia. In 456 it was destroyed by the vandals of Genseric and the inhabitants took refuge in the caves of the Gravina stream, giving life to the Rocky Civilization thus outlining the urban evolution of the city that will continue with the construction in the first medieval and then Renaissance districts. The population begins to give life to the rocky cavities dug into the limestone walls of the Gravina according to a natural architecture. The rocky scenery of the ravine is animated by simple gestures of life in the spaces in front and first the Fondovito and Piaggio districts (in the early Middle Ages) develop, then, with the Normans, the part of the Civitas, reaching the plain on which the medieval urban core. Connecting the two banks of the stream is the Orsinian bridge-aqueduct from the mid-eighteenth century, which leads the waters of the Sant’Angelo spring under the city walls. With the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Gravina follows the events of the whole of Italy, which passed through the dominion of Odoacer, the Gothic kingdom and, finally, at the beginning of the 5th century, the reconquest of the Empire by Justinian . After the massacre carried out by the Saracens in 999, the inhabited center destroyed, one on the Botromagno plain and the other on the edge of the ravine, the population moved to the underlying ravine, where other houses were added to the existing caves. fief of the Normans with Count Umfrido D’Altavilla who transformed it into a county and who, to restore dignity to the ancient bishop’s seat, had the Cathedral Basilica built. Florentine Fuccio to design and build a Castle for birds whose ruins can still be visited today. Frederick II himself puts the city at the head of the Giustizierato di Terra di Bari, placing it in the foreground among the cities of Puglia for its natural riches and beauties. With the Swabians, the city was elevated to the dignity of the seat of the General Curia of Puglia and Basilicata. It will be Frederick II to define Gravina as a “garden of delights”. Then it passes under the Angevins and experiences a period of great economic development; in particular, Charles II of Anjou in 1294 established the annual San Giorgio Fair, which is still one of the oldest fairs in Italy and represents an important economic moment for the marketing of agricultural and craft products.
In 1423 it passed into the hands of the Orsini who retained possession until 1816. In 1650 the city gave birth to Pietro Francesco Orsini, son of Duke Ferdinando III Orsini d’Aragona and Giovanna della Tolfa, who was elevated to the papal throne with the name of Pope Benedict XIII; Pope who announced the jubilee of 1725 and is still remembered for the construction of the steps of Trinità dei Monti in Rome, the foundation of the University of Camerino, the creation of the frumentari mountains.The Orsini family ensured administrative stability and a strong economic impulse in Gravina and cultural. They enriched the city with many buildings, which would later become distinguished and unique monuments such as the bridge-viaduct over the “gravina” stream, the Church of Santa Maria del Suffragio or del Purgatorio, the monumental fountain, the Palazzo Orsini in Piazza della Repubblica and so on. During the Bourbon period, with increased oppression and violation of basic human rights, Gravina counts many revolutionaries and patriots from 1789 until the unification of Italy, with a carbonara “sale”. Protagonist of the historical events of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, he contributed a lot to the unification of Italy with patriots and martyrs of the wars of independence and the First World War. world war, the city was partially damaged by the bombing of German planes.
Gravina is today a city rich in monuments and churches, which make it appreciated from a cultural point of view, able to offer the visitor a truly suggestive panorama thanks to the rock churches and the various works of art, the archaeological area of Botromagno, the enhancement of the typical products of the agri-food sector, of sporting, folkloristic and cultural events, as well as of the enchanting scenery of its natural landscape with the “Difesa Grande” wood and the Alta Murgia Park.