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 frescoes.
Outside the habitation one can visit the Dolmenica from Masseria of the Port Necropolis, dating back to the II millennium before Christ.
Local products from Gioia del Colle: Primitivo wine and “Fior di Latte” mozzarella cheese.

GIOIA DEL COLLE
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