Foggia Tourist Attractions
SituationFoggia, chief town of the province of the same name, which was also known as "Capitanata", is situated in the northern part of the Adriatic coastal region of Apulia, south of the Monte Gargano promontory. Once a favorite residence of the Emperor Frederick II, it is both the geographical and the economic center of the extensive Apulian plains, the Tavoliere di Puglia. Almost all the town's medieval buildings were destroyed in an earthquake in 1731. With its wide tree-lined streets and its many new buildings, including those erected after the Second World War to make good the severe destruction which the town had suffered, Foggia is now a town of very modern appearance.
The hub of the town's traffic is the Piazza Cavour, to the east of the center. Adjoining the east side of the square, beyond a colonnade, is the municipal park, extending eastwards. From the Piazza Cavour Viale XXIV Maggio, lined by fine buildings, runs northeast to the station. To the west of the Piazza Cavour is the Piazza Umberto Giordano, from the far end of which the busy Corso Vittorio Emanuele, Foggia's principal street, leads into the old town center. 300m/990ft west it is crossed by another busy street, the Corso Garibaldi, along which, to the southwest, are the Prefecture and the Town Hall.
A little way north of the Prefecture in Foggia is the cathedral, built about 1172 in Romanesque style but rebuilt in Baroque style after the 1731 earthquake.
In Piazza Nigri, is the Municipal Museum (Musei Civici) which contains archeological and folklore material as well as a collection of modern pictures.
Around the Monte Gargano Promontory (some 230km,143 miles)
There is a very attractive trip around the Monte Gargano promontory (1,056m/3,485ft), the "spur" of the Italian boot, a hilly tongue of land which extends 65km/40mi into the Adriatic and, geologically, already belongs to the Dalmatian limestone formations.
Lido di Siponto
Leave Foggia on S.S. 89 (the "Gargaànica"), which runs northeast through the extensive and well-cultivated Apulian plain. In 27km/17mi, on the right, is San Leonardo, formerly a lodge of the Teutonic Order but now a farmhouse (Masseria), with a square Romanesque church (richly sculptured 12th century doorway). Soon afterwards the road reaches the coast at Lido di Siponto (5m/17ft), the Roman Sipontum, which was abandoned in the 13th century. Among the remains is the cathedral of Santa Maria Maggiore (consecrated 1117), on a square ground plan, with an interesting crypt.
43km/27mi from Foggia the coast road comes to Manfredonia (5m/17ft; pop. 54,000), a port founded in the 13th century by King Manfred, son of Frederick II, in place of the abandoned town of Sipontum, and now the see of an archbishop. After its destruction by the Turks in 1620 it was rebuilt on a regular plan with streets intersecting at right angles. Interesting features are the cathedral, the 13th century church of San Domenico, a 13th century castle and the Museo Archeologico Nazionale del Gargano. There are boat sevices several times weekly to the Tremiti Islands (4-5 hours). About 7km/4.5mi beyond Manfredonia the road forks: to the left is the shorter road through the hills, to the right the longer but scenically more attractive coast road.
9km/5.5mi from the fork the hill road reaches Monte Sant'Angelo (796m/2,627ft; pop. 17,000), the center of the Gargano area. This little town is charmingly situated with a fine ruined castle (1494) and the pilgrimage church of San Michele Arcangelo.
San Michele Arcangelo
The pilgrimage church of San Michele Arcangelo is visited by something like a million pilgrims every year. The church occupies a cave in the center of the town which according to legend was chosen as a shrine by the Archangel Michael himself when he appeared to St Lawrence, archbishop of Sipontum, in 493. From the vestibule beside the campanile (1273) 86 steps lead down to the church, which has Biblical scenes on bronze doors and an inscription recording that they were cast in Constantinople. The church contains a fine 12th century bishop's throne. Near the church is the so-called "tomb of Rothari" (a Lombard king), a curious domed building (c. 1200) which was probably a baptistery. Nearby is the church of Santa Maria Maggiore (begun 1170), with a beautiful doorway (1198).
San Giovanni Rotondo
About 5km/3mi beyond Monte Sant'Angelo a road goes off on the left to San Giovanni Rotondo (566m/1,868ft; pop. 23,000), situated below Monte Calvo (1,056m/3,485ft), the highest summit in the range.
On the west side of the town is the modern church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, to the left of which is a Capuchin monastery famous as the home of Padre Pio da Pietrelcina (d. 1968), who bore the stigmata from 1918 until his death. The monastery is visted by large numbers of pilgrims seeking a cure for their ailments, and there is a modern hospital adjoining.
Beyond the turning for San Giovanni Rotondo the main road winds its way uphill and then crosses the karstic plateau of Monte Gargano and down through the magnificent beech forest of Foresta Umbra to the coast, joining the coastal road from Manfredonia 43km/27mi beyond San Giovanni.
18km/11 mi beyond Bellariva is San Menaio (10m/33ft), a seaside resort, with villas set amid pine-woods.
About 7km/4.5mi from San Menaio is the port of Rodi Garganico (42m/139ft; pop. 4,000). From here there are boat services (approximately 1.5 hours) to the beautiful Tremiti Islands, 22 sea mi northwest.
Lago di Varano
Soon after Rodi Garganico the coast road skirts a coastal lagoon, the Lago di Varano (12km/7.5mi long, 8km/5mi across), which is separated from the sea by a long spit of sand - dunes known as the "Isola", and passes either to the south or to the north along the dunes. It then continues through barren hill country to join the motorway to Foggia either at Poggio Imperiale (45km/28mi), at the west end of the Lago di Lesina, or at San Severo (65km/40mi).
18km/11mi west of Foggia, on a plateau above the wide Apulian plain, is Lucera (219m/723ft; pop. 34,000), the ancient Luceria. The town was developed into an important stronghold, the key to Apulia, by the Emperor Frederick II, and populated by 20,000 Saracens brought in from Sicily between 1233 and 1245. Most of the population was killed by Charles II of Anjou around 1300.
The Gothic cathedral was built by Charles II of Anjou after 1300 on the site of the old Saracen mosque (inside a wooden 14th century crucifix).
About 1km/0.75mi west of the town of Lucera, beyond the beautiful Giardino Pubblico, is a castle (251m/828ft) built by Frederick II in 1233 and rebuilt by Charles I of Anjou, a well-preserved example of medieval military architecture, from the top of which there are far-ranging views.
East of Lucera, at the foot of a hill, is a Roman amphitheater of the time of Augustus.
17km/11mi south of Lucera is the little town of Troia (439m/1,449ft; pop. 8,000), with an interesting cathedral (begun 1092) showing Toscanian Pisan influence. The two bronze doors are by Oderisius of Benevento, 1119 and 1127. Also in Troia can be seen the remains of the old town walls.