Hi, I’m Viviana and this is my hometown | #PugliaByMe
If you are planning to spend some time in Puglia, my hometown Giovinazzo could be a nice stop to add to your list, while visiting the Bari Land. Located few kilometres North from Bari, Giovinazzo is a charming peninsula surrounded by the blue Adriatic sea, with the characteristic old town set within sturdy walls, which enclose a number of architectural beauties.
Giovinazzo is a typically medieval town, with narrow and irregular winding streets, whose historical centre can be accessed by the Arch of Trajan, built by the Emperor to reinforce the defensive walls of the city. From the Arch, you can easily reach the ancient Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, of the 12th century, built in that Romanesque style typical of Puglia. Its majestic bulk merges with the charm of the promenade of Ponente and Levante, ideal for relaxing walks especially in the warmer periods, such as at the end of a day at the beach.
Being one of the first places in Puglia to be converted to Christianity, Giovinazzo is rich in churches. Those that are definitely worth a visit are the Church of St. Mary of Constantinople, St. Charles Church, the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine, the Church of St. John the Baptist, the Church of the Holy Spirit, the Church of San Lorenzo and Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli.
Among other architectural treasures, in Giovinazzo there are numerous aristocratic palaces such as De Ritiis Palace, the Episcopal Palace, the Lupis Palace, the Monastery of the Benedictine Sisters and the Court of Sagarriga Visconti.
Finally, you should dedicate some time to relax and chill out at the Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II, characterized by rich gardens and a monumental fountain built in local stone and bronze. This square is the heart of the town and a meeting point for all the locals.
From the Piazza, if you move towards the Marina, you will notice the bastion, called the Aragonese Tower, and numerous fishing boats that, at dusk, return with their catch.
All around the territory of Giovinazzo there are numerous towers and the one that I love above all, for its simplicity and impressive high, is the Vedetta sul Mediterraneo (the Watchtower of the Mediterranean), built for the military, where you can admire a breath-taking view of the city!
Giovinazzo’s Cuisine: the specialties of the area
Giovinazzo is also known as the “City of the Olive Oil“, because of the cultivation of olive trees that occupies most of the agricultural area. In fact, another construction that characterizes the territory is the palmento, millstones of traditional water mills that crushed the olives to produce oil. In Giovinazzo there are still many in good condition.
Indeed, the typical cuisine is based on local products and, in particular, on olive oil. A traditional dish is the favetta e cicorie (mashed fava beans accompanied by boiled chicory). In the city there are also many restaurants where you can taste and enjoy the fresh fish.
Events not to miss
Festivals, fairs, sporting, religious and cultural events cheer Giovinazzo throughout the entire year. The Corteo Storico (Historical Parade) of Giovinazzo is a tradition that is well worth seeing. I highly recommend it! It takes place every year on the Saturday before the 19th of August, when the Patron Saint is celebrated. It’s organized by the Pro Loco (the local tourist office) and evokes two important historical events of the past. In this parade more than 150 people in costume participate, walking along the street, accompanied by trumpets and roll of drums, and preceded by flag bearers of a well-known folk group from Salento.
Speaking of traditions, another impressive event is the Bonfires of Saint Anthony in January. Each neighbour will arrange their own bonfire and visitors will get the chance to move from one bonfire to another tasting local dishes, such as olives and beans, cooked in the traditional pignate, accompanied by a glass of local wine and good music.
To the youngsters it is dedicated the Giovinazzo Rock Festival, one of the biggest free rock festival of Puglia. Now in its 14th edition, it has hosted famous singers and special guests such as Caparezza, the Apres La Classe, Giuliano Palma and many others.
Finally, among the other religious festivals, do not miss Holy Week at Easter and the “craft cribs” on display during Christmas holidays.
What to see in the area
Giovinazzo is only 18 km from Bari and is located on the coastal railway line, so it is very easy to take a train and visit the surrounding towns by the sea. Of course, by car you can explore the inland cities too. Given the short distance, if you have little time, I would recommend you stopping to Trani , Molfetta and Bari.
Text and photos by Viviana Pagano