When for the first time I’ve seen in pictures the reconstruction of the early Christian Basilica of Siponto, artist Edoardo Tresoldi work’s, I am not particularly impressed. It felt more like an optical effect that not a real three-dimensional realization. But, slowly, reading the comments of those who had gone in person to Manfredonia to admire the artistic and futuristic realization, I changed my opinion.
And I decided to schedule a tour in the Gargano to enjoy live this wonder, that since it was inaugurated in March, has had an extraordinary media response so that its author, the brilliant and eclectic Tresoldi, will be awarded the next September 17, a special recognition by the Club of Territory Touring Club of Manfredonia, the municipal administration and Manfredi Re Foundation.
You realize the tremendous impact that this work visionary has about the territory, able to combine history and architecture with zero environmental and landscape impact , even from a distance. Approaching this optical illusion never ceases to amaze and leave you breathless: as you are approached, you can see on the bottom of the minor Basilica, remained intact in its medieval setting clear influences from Islamic and Armenian. In front, the reconstruction of the ancient Romanesque Basilica, of which the only remains are the foundations from which today begins a slight embroidery of 4,500 square meters to 14 meters high galvanized steel mesh and weighing 7 tons.
Get in, then, it is more than impressive! A sort of time travel, not just between past and present, but between what was and then disappeared together with the ancient civilization that gave birth to the important center of Siponto, Manfredonia today suburb, but a lively time dauno country, thriving Greek colony and later an important Roman colony. The settlement suffered the attacks of the Saracens, like all coastal centers of Puglia, and in the ninth century was even taken possession and it became one of their cities until the Normans erected it the headquarters of one of its 12 counties. But nature was to decree the end: in 1223 the city was shaken by a violent earthquake and another earthquake reduced it to ruins in 1255. It was then that Manfred of Sicily ruled that the city was rebuilt in a new location. Thus it was born Manfredonia.
Today, therefore, the past reappears in all its glory and it is not just an emotion, to paraphrase a famous song some time ago, wandering in a building not building … Something that was there, was not there and now in some way it is still there. This, very briefly, my feeling after the visit to the full-scale reconstruction of the early Christian basilica of which are resistant part of the mosaic and the original perimeter dates back to the fourth century after Christ and various overlaps until the Middle Ages, when the heart of Siponto has stopped beating.
And, since you are in the area, do not miss the chance to visit the small but beautiful Abbey of San Leonardo in Lama Volara, still in the territory of Siponto. The monastery, founded around the first millennium by the Canons Regular of St. Augustine as a shelter for pilgrims on their way to the Sanctuary of the Archangel Michael and the Crusaders knights who embarked for the Holy, boasts one of the portals the most beautiful of the Romanesque, probably built in the Swabian period. It was also struck by Pupi Avati who used the facade, the exterior and some interior abbey for his film “I cavalieri che fecero l’impresa”.
If you are visiting during the summer solstice, do not give up to watch the show sunbeam captured by a “rose” to eleven petals that runs on the floor and embraces a cross which is engraved: a phenomenon that nine centuries – each June 21, the day of the summer solstice – is repeated inside the abbey and who regularly records to 12:58, when a beam of light – after crossing the gnomonic hole under the vault of the church – caresses the cross on the floor the basilica at the center of the two pillars near the side entrance. The astronomical phenomenon, very similar to the much more famous that takes place in France, in the cathedral of Chartres, reminds us that the solstices were an easy way to fix an early date for the year from which to start counting the days on the calendar: from hence their importance can also be gauged by the presence of signs of light solstice in churches and abbeys including, of course, that of San Leonardo di Siponto.
Archaeological Park of the basilicas
Opening hours: open daily from 10 am to 13 and from 17 to 21
For information call the Operations Centre for the Archaeology of FOGGIA
Via De Nittis , 7 – Foggia
Info : +39 0881 725458 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Abbey of San Leonardo di Siponto
At this time due to restoration work the church is only open for the celebration of Holy Mass.
SCHEDULES HOLY MASS
Summer period from mid-June to mid-September from Monday to Saturday at 19.00, Sunday at 20.00 hours.
Fall Winter period from mid-September to mid-June from Monday to Saturday at 18.00 Sunday at 11.00 hours.
Wednesday is not celebrated in both periods.
Info : +39 0884 549439