Cerignola apparently has its roots back in the 10th-11th century that is when it was first mentioned in a document (the Codice diplomatico barese) and when work began on the ancient cathedral in the medieval quarter (known as the Terra vecchia, or “Old Land”).
A small settlement, inhabited by a few hundred families, which on 28th April 1503 saw a pitched battle between the French and the Spanish, which some historians regard as a key moment in history. This was when the Spanish first tried out their “storm of fire” arquebuse tactics (alternating rows of arquebusiers firing on their feet, then kneeling down to reload, enabling the next row of arquebusiers to then fire and reload); this was when the Spanish tried out the tactic of a fixed obstacle to counter charges by the frightening formations of pikemen; the battle led to the Spanish occupying southern Italy for the next three centuries.
Cerignola was the birthplace of that great parliamentary supporter of the Acquedotto Pugliese, Giuseppe Pavoncelli, the philologist Nicola Zingarelli (author of a famous Italian dictionary), the great trade union leader, and chairman of the World Trade Union Federation, Giuseppe Di Vittorio. This is also where Pietro Mascagni composed several of his operas, including his first, the classic Cavalleria rusticana.
In the north-western part of the city lies the medieval quarter: built on an almost circular plan, with its narrow winding (and sidewalkless) alleyways, little squares, cellars known as iusi, ground-floor dwellings and houses with vignale (external staircases built parallel to the façade), as well as a few 16th-17th century nobleman’s residences (Palazzo Bruni, Palazzo della Chiesa, Palazzo Gala, Palazzo Matera). “Terra Vecchia” also holds the Mother Church, or Chiesa Madre (10th-11th century), and the churches of San Leonardo (14th century), and Sant’Agostino (16th century).
The south of the city has a unique “upturned” monument, known as Piano delle Fosse. This is an area of some 26,000 sq.m, with no less than 626 grain pits – 6-7 m deep, 4-8 m across, and which can hold 45-110 tons of wheat, oats, broad beans or almonds – each grain pit is marked on the outside by four stone features and a boundary stone showing the initials of the owner and a sequential number. Back within the city itself, we find the 16th century churches of Purgatorio and Carmine, the 18th century Palazzo Coccia in the late Baroque style of Luigi Vanvitelli, and the imposing Tonti Cathedral or Duomo Tonti (1855-1933) funded by a private benefactor.
Just outside the city, to the north-east, is the 14th-century country church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, which contains original frescoes and a graffito commemorating the Battle of Cerignola in 1503; 10 kilometres further south is the sanctuary of Santa Maria di Ripalta, which from October through to April houses a Byzantine icon, which legend has it was found in 1172, and which every spring is carried on the shoulders of the faithful through the streets of the city to the Cathedral, where it is displayed for the other half of the year. Finally, 16 kilometres towards Candela lies the Torre Alemanna complex, the only remaining fortified residence of the Teutonic Knights in Apulia: a tower/residence built in 1231, alongside which stand the 16th century Palace of the Lay Abbot and the tiny church of San Leonardo.
Particolarmente suggestivi sono i riti della Settimana
Santa, gestiti dalle Confraternite cittadine e caratterizzati
dalla presenza dei “Cristi rossi”: “cirenei” che, a piedi
nudi, con la croce e una corona di spine sul capo,
precedono i gruppi statuari. Il Venerdì Santo vede tre
processioni: al mattino quella dei Misteri, al pomeriggio
quella della Desolata, a sera quella del Cristo morto. Il
Sabato Santo, infine, la processione della Pietà. Il sabato
in albis, il primo dopo la Pasqua, l’icona della patrona
Maria SS. di Ripalta viene portata a spalla in
processione dal santuario sull’Ofanto alla cattedrale,
con gran concorso di popolo. A settembre, il 7, 8 e 9,
sono i giorni della festa patronale: con processione
dell’icona sul carro trionfale, luminarie, bande musicali,
fuochi d’artificio. Infine, il secondo lunedì di ottobre,
fra imponenti ali di folla, l’icona della patrona,
sempre portata a spalla, fa ritorno al suo
|FAVE E CICORIE
Ingredienti per 4 persone
300 g di fave secche, 400 g di cicorie (possibilmente selvatiche), olio, sale.
Mettere a bagno le fave per almeno dodici ore, scolarle e cuocerle per circa tre ore, in acqua leggermente salata, a fuoco basso; pulire e lessare le cicorie in acqua leggermente salata. “Battere” le fave con un cucchiaio di legno, aggiungendo un filo d'olio, e servire su un letto
CAVATELLI E RUCOLA
Ingredienti per 4 persone
1/2 kg di cavatelli, 800 g di salsa di pomodoro, due spicchi d'aglio, rucola, olio, sale.
Cucinare per 10 minuti salsa di pomodoro, aglio, olio e un pizzico di sale. Far cuocere la rucola in abbondante acqua salata, e dopo qualche minuto calarvi i cavatelli. A fine cottura, scolare la pasta e condire con la salsa.
For centuries, the economy of these lands were dependent on the Abruzzo sheep-rearing industry. An ancient Aragonese institution known as the Dogana della mena delle pecore in Puglia (the authority collecting excise duty on sheep passing through Apulia) required vast tracts of land to be left unploughed, to produce forage for the millions of Abruzzo sheep which, in a process known as transhumance, were brought on foot to spend the winters here in Apulia, before returning to their pastures in Abruzzo when the warmer weather returned. The fida, or toll, for each head of sheep, was a great source of revenue for the Spanish occupying forces. When the Tavoliere plain was freed from Spanish rule in 1865, some 60,000 hectares of land around Cerignola was returned to its natural vocation: thus wheat, olives and vines – pioneered by aristocratic families such as La Rochefoucauld and Pavoncelli – were to radically alter the appearance of the landscape.
Typical dishes in the Cerignola area include cavatelli e ruca (shell-shaped home-made pasta cooked with wild rocket and garnished with a tomato sauce), cicatelli di granarso (smaller than cavatelli, made with flour milled from wheat harvested after the stubble is burnt and garnished with a tomato sauce and hard ricotta), pancotto e ruca (stale bread cooked with racket and garnished with sautéed garlic), brodetto pasquale (stewed lamb consommé with eggs, cheese and a local wild plant called the cardoncello), u sartascenille (spicy sausage cooked with olive oil, garlic, cherry tomatoes, and chilli). The most characteristic dessert is called pizza a sette sfoglie (layers of dough filled with grated almond, raisins, sugar, chocolate, cinnamon, olive oil and mostarda, the typical local grape jam).
These are still the core of local agriculture produce: top quality durum wheat, vegetables (artichokes, tomatoes, baby broccoli), DOP Dauno extra-virgin olive oil made from the Coratina and Ogliarola varieties, excellent wines (Rosso di Cerignola, made from the Uva di Troia and Negroamaro grapes, has had DOC status since 1974), with pride of place going to Bella di Cerignola, the biggest olive on the market. Alongside the traditional olive-presses and wine-cellars, several food-processing plants have grown up for bottling tomatoes and both for pickling and for preserving vegetables in oil: baby artichokes and grape hyacinths, bell peppers and olives, aubergines and sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and baby onions. And the last few years have seen the rise of a variety of different kinds of taralli.
Dove mangiare -
La Chiocciola, Piazza Marconi - Tel. 0885.423466
Il Principe Azzurro, Viale Dei Pini, 18 - Tel. 0885.447801
Il Pegaso, Corso Scuola Agraria, 61 - Tel. 0885.422222
Il Bagatto, Via Gentile, 7 - Tel. 0885.427850
Da Vincenzo, Via Nizza, 10 - Tel. 0885.421844
Il Duomo, Piazza Duomo, 53 - Tel. 0885.417453
U Vulesce, Via Cesare Battisti, 3 - Tel. 0885.425798
Dove Dormire -
Il Quadrifoglio, S.S. 529, km 1.900 – Tel. 0885.424154
Masseria San Lorenzo, località Torre Quarto
Tel. 348.3612500, 0885.418436
Hotel delle Nazioni, corso Scuola Agraria, 13
Albergo Veronese, S.S. 16 Adriatica – Tel. 0885.415712
Relais Country, S.S. 16 - Tel. 0885.418988