A lot of history and beauty in the itinerary that tells about San Severo PDO wine,, the first in Apulia to obtain the recognition of Protected Designation of Origin in 1968. The area boasts optimal climatic conditions. This is why the town has been inhabited since the Neolithic age. Connected to San Severino, the apostle and precursor of San Benedetto, the town was later called Castellum Sancti Severini. It was razed to the ground by the catastrophic earthquake of 30th July 1627 and palaces, monasteries and churches were rebuilt in Baroque style: from the cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta to the ancient matrix of San Severino, declared a national monument together with San Lorenzo and the church of the Pietà, seat of the confraternity of the Dead. The sanctuary of the Madonna del Soccorso houses the Black Madonna, patron saint of the town, in whose honour a festival is held where the twenty town districts compete in firework “battery” competitions. The former convent of the Friars Minor Conventual houses the Mat Museum of the Alto Tavoliere, while wine is once again the protagonist in the cellars under the city: until the 1950s, San Severo had as many as 500 cellars.
Not far away is Torremaggiore. This town was also destroyed by the earthquake of 1627 but still retains its medieval atmosphere with the ducal castle of the Sangro family. A few kilometres from the town is the archaeological site of Castel Fiorentino, where it is said Frederick II of Swabia died.
In San Paolo di Civitate, called “Teanum Appulum in ancient times “, in 1053 a battle took place between the Normans and Pope Leone IX which ended with the capture of the Pontiff. After its destruction by the Turks in the 16th century, the village became a feud of the Gonzaga family. Today the village is part of the territory of San Severo PDO wine, which in its red version goes very well with the torcinello sanpaolese, a typical dish consisting of lamb intestines wrapped around lamb liver, grilled or stewed.
The oldest lithic artefacts in Europe have been found in Apricena. Famous for the stone that is the protagonist in the sculptures of internationally renowned artists in the town centre, in the past it was the site of one of Frederick II‘s Domus. The devastating earthquake that razed Capitanata to the ground caused the collapse of almost all the buildings. In fact, the Baronial Palace of the Brancia Princes was built thirty years ago on the Norman manor.
Lucera has maintained the Saracen urban structure with narrow alleys, stairways and steep slopes. The Cathedral was built on the pre-existing mosque while on the Albano Hill there is the Swabian Castle of Frederick II destroyed by the Angevins. Worth visiting is the Roman Amphitheatre, a structure dating back to the time of Augustus discovered only in 1932.
You can enjoy an enchanting view from Poggio Imperiale, a small village gathered around the Church of San Placido Martire and known for the Sanctuary of San Nazario, near which a hot water spring gushes out where, according to legend, the martyr Nazario washed his feet.
The last stop on the itinerary in the footsteps of San Severo PDO wine, is Lesina, founded by Dalmatian fishermen, on the lake of the same name in an area inhabited since the Neolithic period. Near the river Fortore is the Santa Maria di Ripalta Abbey, one of the oldest places of worship in the Gargano.