Immersed in the National Park
of Gargano at the edge of the Umbra Forest, is where one can
find Monte Sant’Angelo, which attracts the visitors
eye from afar with its small white houses lined up on the
slopes. From here, one can enjoy the splendid panorama over
the Manfredonia Gulf.
Its birth can be connected to the apparition of the Archangel
Michael in a cave on 8th May 490 and subsequently (492 and
493) which made this a place of devotion and a pilgrimage
After the Greek-Gothic War (535-553), the Byzantines dominated
Northern Puglia until the decent of the Longobards who managed
to annex this territory during the 7th Century. It was these
latter who made Monte Sant’Angelo a point of religious
reference in their state by decreeing it a National Longobard
Sanctuary, and allowing it to become a meta for pilgrims,
popes, saints, kings and emperors.
The Sacra Langobardorum Road, which connected Mont Saint Michel
in France to Monte Sant’Angelo, terminated here.
The Castle was built during the 9th Century, then amplified
by the Normans.
The Sanctuary, which was sacked by the Saracens in ‘871,
as with all of Puglia, was tormented for more than a century
by clashes between the Longobards and Byzantines, until a
period of peace finally arrived through Norman domination
(11th Century). It was these very same who erected the town-walls
building to protect the suburb and the magnificent Torre dei
Giganti (Giants’ Towers). The Castle, already modified
under the Norman reign of Robert Guiscard and Federick and
their successors, the Swabians, became a prison under the
Angioini (13th Century). These latter, who arrived in Southern
Italy under the command of Carlo I of Angiò to defeat
the Swabians and help the Pope (1266), had the Sanctuary of
Saint Michael the Archangel built to protect the cave where
the apparition occured.
Monte Sant’Angelo and its fortress then passed to the
Princes of Durazzo and the Aragonese (15th Century), who were
able to return the Castle to its old splendour. In 1497, they
entrusted it to Consalvo of Cordoba.
It became a Baronage of the Grimaldi Family in 1552, and remained
as such until 1802, the year it passed to Cardinal Ruffo of
Calabria on the wishes of the Bourbons.
In 1861, after the end of the Reign of the Two Sicilies due
to Sabaudo intervention and troops commanded by Garibaldi,
Puglia and Monte Sant’Angelo became part of the Reign
of the Italy.
A visit to the suburb is fascinating and stuns its visitor
with the richness and density of its Roman architectonic masterpieces:
beginning with the Archangel St Michael’s Sanctury,
where one can admire sculptures by Archdeacon Acceptus (12th
Century), close to where the Torre dei Giganti (Giants’
Towers) are situated.
The remains of the S. Pietro (12th Century) church, hosts
the Tomba di Rotari, which is really a Romanesque Baptistery
dedicated to Saint John. Nearby, one can visit the Romanesque
Santa Maria Maggiore Church (12th Century) with its beautiful
façade and internal frescoes (12th-14th Centuries).
The visit concludes with the Castle, testimony of an incredible
past era (9th Century, later re-adjusted on various occasions),
where one can admire a unique panorama over the entire region.
Approximately 10 kilometres from Sant’Angelo, one can
visit the Santa Maria Abbey of Pulsana, constructed in 591
on the remains of a pagan temple dedicated to the hero-prophet