Orta Nova, together with Ordona, Carapelle, Stornarella and Stornara, is part of the Cinque Reali Siti, or Five Royal Sites, established in 1773 by Ferdinand IV to create a network among the major agricultural centres of the time. The economy of the town is still based on agriculture with cultivations of tomatoes and the production of Orta Nova wine, a PDO that includes the areas of Ordona, Carapelle, Ascoli Satriano and Foggia up to the sea of Manfredonia.
The village was the seat of one of Frederick II’s residences, of which no trace remains today, and Manfredi resided there, who from Orta issued the “Datum Orte” with which he founded Manfredonia. In 1600, when it was bought by the Jesuits, dates back the palace built on the ruins of the palace seat of the Royal Customs of the Sheep and today of the municipal library.
Among the Five Royal Sites, Ordona is the one richest in history as witnessed by the ruins of the ancient Herdonia, crossroads between the Traiana, Eclanense and Venosa roads. Destroyed for the first time in the 7th century, Herdonia disappeared definitively with the transfer of the residents to Ordona.
The third of the Royal Sites of the territory of Orta Nova PDO wine is Carapelle, a village that is part of the Ecomuseum project of the Carapelle valley, a river that for centuries has been the way to cross this territory and has shaped the landscape. Here, too, there is important evidence of the past, including the macellum with frescoes and mosaics.
In Ascoli Satriano in the Civic Archaeological Museum is kept the wonderful complex of the Griffins: a ritual table, coming from Turkey, found in a Daunian tomb and purchased by the Paul Getty Museum in Malibu. Subsequently the Griffins returned “home” and since 2010 they have been in the company of another stolen treasure, the statue of the god Apollo from the 2nd century AD.
Before reaching Foggia, we recommend a walk in the Regional Natural Park of Bosco Incoronata, an ancient hunting reserve of Frederick II that today houses a recovery centre for birds of prey.
Foggia looks like a modern city after being completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1731 and by Allied bombings in 1943. The Cathedral, which houses the Madonna of the Seven Veils, was rebuilt like much of the new city, so it is interesting to visit the Ipogei Urbani, the town hypogea, also used as a shelter during World War II. In the Civic Museum there are the reconstructions of the Tombs of Medusa and of the Knights, found in Arpi, one of the major Daunian centres founded, according to the legend, by Diomedes.
Manfredonia, the last strip of the territory of the Orta Nova PDO wine, was founded by Manfredi who moved there the inhabitants of Sipontum, destroyed by the Saracens and by an earthquake. The castle houses the National Museum of the Gargano, where there are the famous Daunian Stele of the 6th and 7th centuries. Outside the town the San Leonardo Basilica, an important abbey complex of the Teutonic Knights, and the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica, built on an ancient temple of Diana. Before leaving, don’tmiss to taste the “farrata”, a local rustic dish made with macerated wheat, sheep ricotta cheese, mint and marjoram.