Gravina, city of many faces – part two


Back above ground we were lucky enough to be able to peek inside the Library Finya, one of the symbols of Gravina and one of the oldest libraries of Puglia rich of a library heritage of more than eleven thousand volumes, and there we literally got lost between the time fragrance and the sense of history of ancient manuscripts, incunabula and Cinquecentine. Closed for several years returned usable in 2012 after careful restoration. The library was begun by Bishop Mons. Domenico Cennini who wanted to offer a place for priests to deepen their cultural background.

To Cennini, inquisitor general of the kingdom of Naples, you also have prisons built in the high bell tower. Guides us in the visit Peppino Spano by Association Benedict XIII, who shows us the protagonists also discovered with the recent renovation,of  the rooms housed in the bell tower, once the Norman castle tower: the graffiti and drawings left by prisoners of the Inquisition. Once up to the fourth floor of the tower, the view is spectacular, ranging from the city up to the whole ravine and the surrounding countryside. Before you get to the top, we are accompanied by sprightly septuagenarian Peppino in the oldest part of the cathedral, the Romanesque now incorporated as a presbytery vault: from here is really fascinating to stretch over the plank to which are attached the five large canvases of the baroque ceiling in carved wood and gold that explains Peppino, until before the last repairs were nailed to the wood, and this gave them a special sail effect. Today they have perfectly taut thanks to a complex system of tie-rods which, if necessary via an electric button, pulls down to the necessary restoration without the need of having to remove them every time!

Are you tired for the challenging climb? Then it is time to look out the Hammam Qui si sana(Via Piaggio 1, tel. +39 080 3210659 – +39 329 5967027 – – in which to be pampered with massages and treatments according to the Roman ritual as for the body with a massage performed with honey or as the Berber savonage with water mist of orange flower and a treatment to facial, neck, décollété and scalp with a natural clay rich in minerals and Berber nectar on the body to soften and nourish the skin. In addition to exit completely regenerated, you will have the chance to explore one of the oldest areas of Gravina, abandoned for years because of the collapses of the Rione Piaggio buildings: the spa rooms are in fact housed in an underground complex of the village, with the treatments distributed in the articulated underground spaces that guide the guests in a constantly changing and highly dramatic scene where ancient rituals are offered in a modern way in a magical atmosphere.

Do you got hungry? A stone’s throw another fascinating place to relive the atmosphere of the past with modern comfort and the exaltation of taste, created by Nicola Loverre, Domenico Lorusso and Grazia Scarciolla with the help of architect Michele Lorusso, who called Tredici Volte (Via Guglielmo Marconi, 13 – tel. +39 080 3251286 – +39 328 1214111) because they are thirteen vaults and thirteen rooms, each with its own architecture that characterizes them in a single path between tunnels, tanks and deposits of Gravina Sotterranea.

For a good pizza cooked in a wood oven and kneaded the “manner” ancient, carefully choosing the meal, enjoying the coolness of the evenings in the countryside around Gravina we suggest Selva99 (Via Guardialto 1,500 km Contrada Selva, tel. +39 080 3263367 – +39 335 7092024 – –, a ristopub housed in a nineteenth century farmhouse renovated in the late 90s.
Selva99 is also bed and breakfast and is a good address to stay in the area and rest in silence and quiet of the country in six rooms equipped with all amenities, double and triple rooms, furnished in a sober manner.

In the centre of the town, however, we recommend two addresses: La Cattedrale Suite (Piazza Benedetto XIII, tel. +39 080 3264152 – +39 338 1439507 – – at the foot of the cathedral Gravina, with three cozy houses elegantly furnished and equipped with kitchen, and Fondovito Bed and Breakfast (Via Vico Fondo Vito 1, tel. +39 345 0341710 – +39 333 2667054 – –, three rooms derived from an ancient house with reception to welcome guests in an old barn, which can recall the past so genuine but revised in a contemporary way with regard to services and hospitality.

The refreshment stop will allow the next day to devote to the visit to the “Ettore Pomarici Santomasi” Museum, founded by Baron from which it takes its name and housed in the palace. Divided into several sections, including the most interesting is the archaeological, hidden among the seven rooms of the apartment on the first floor a real historical treasure trove of furniture and furnishings in the reception hall, with eighteenth-century wooden ceiling and furniture “coffered “painted, in the bedroom with dressers inlaid seventeenth century and a rich canopy of the sixteenth century and, finally, in the private chapel with a wooden altar of the eighteenth century. On the ground floor the collection of locally manufactured tiles and by Laterza and a permanent exhibition of the refined vintage clothes (XVII-XIX century) which offers a significant showcase of taste and fashion trends through the centuries. On the ground floor you can admire another masterpiece of the past: the Byzantine frescoes from the cave church of St. Vito Vecchio. Detached in the late fifties of the last century and restored, they were inserted century in a new environment that reproduces the original crypt invaded, dominated by the figure of Christ Pantocrator enthroned and blessing, flown by a almond by four angels, saints and some theories placed within the side arches.

After such magnificence our advice is to dive in the most popular Gravina, that of cavato San Marco, an ancient alley-sac. The few houses that still there are “abbasc or mour” (under the wall in the local idiom) have balconies overlooking the Via Giudice Montea, the way that the dawn was crossed by mules and donkeys, to the Roman bridge, to reach the vineyards of Botromagno. Closed for the collapses of 2011, has now been re-opened allowing the visitor the opportunity to enter in a single glance the magnificent ancient aqueduct bridge, the bell tower and the cave church Madonna della Stella, the Botromagno hill, the huge moat of the ravine and the ancient medieval bastion.

One last tip before you go away with these wonders in your eyes? To the delight of the palate, stopping to buy the Pallone (provolone) of Gravina in Puglia, which is a semi-hard cheese made of spun raw dough, made from whole cow’s milk and fresh dairy products: mozzarella, stracciatella, knots, braids, manteca (burrino) and burrata. Moreover, that the entire area is suited for dairy production is not new news if already in the funerary objects found in the peucete tombs of Botromagno archaeological park were found graters for cheese or scratch-cheese.


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