The Castle

359fa9c512The lookout on the hill Used by Fredrick II during his hunting excursions, the Swabian-Norman castle rises up on a hill at an altitude of 500 meters. Traditionally, its construction was assigned to Drogone d’Altavilla or to his brother Umfredo, his successor, who built it at the top, in a advantageous position dominating one side of the Basento valley, the Gargano and the Apulian Murgia.

The royal horse stables Originally, it had a square shape butlater the original architectural pattern was completely changed. Today, a round-arch portal leads to the porticoed courtyard upon which open the rooms once used as royal horse stables. Here were selected the portentous royal stallion employed during the magnificent imperial processions. Opposite the entrance,a flight of stairs is used to get on the first floor, taken up from a series of apartments that, although over the centuries have been rearranged, in stops and starts, allow the view of the ancient barrel vaulted ceiling. On the second floor there are, instead, big rooms that reveal their Medieval function of representative halls.

The young prince’s healing The Castle was attended and became much more popular in the age of King Manfredi, who stayed there for a long time in the summer of 1255, after the victory obtained on the papal army, during the battle of Foggia. Still twenty-three years old, the natural son of Fredrick II retired here with his following to refresh himself from the war grinds. In this amusing place the young prince first became sick and was at the death’s door, and then recovered good health and serenity thanks to the salubrious air.



3973637885 c998698924Its origins are related to those of its Norman-Swabian castle (LINK), The Palatium Regium, that gave its name to the village and followed its historical events. Indeed, the village developed around the XI cent., from the manor, with the construction  of the houses in which people who worked for the liege lords lived.   The royal palace Fredrick II renovated the castle earmarking it for hunting and as a resort. Palazzo S. Gervasio became a royal manor farm and was included in the system of farms founded by the emperor in the state owned lands directly dependent on him. The manor farm of Palazzo S. Gervasio produced grain and products from sheep, the latter also sold on the external market. In addition, under the Swabian emperor the place was promoted to “Maristalle”, that is a royal stud farm for stallions, hacks and young horses destined to the royal militia and the court. After 1250, when the emperor died, the castle hosted Manfredi, natural child of Fredrick II and for few years emperor himself. The main street is to this day dedicated to him: according to anecdotes, the king passed through that way to go from the Palatium to the stables. The imperial marescallia Right after the death of Manfredi (1266), the Angevin king Carlo I turned S. Gervasio’s estate into a defending outpost of Basilicata. Some supporting material dated back to 1281 shows that the “marescallia of S.Gervasio” was the place for the well-bred horses, bred by the Angevin king. The deer around the palace were so abundant that 600 deer antlers were shipped to Naples in 1360 to tailor rings for 3400 crossbows. The royal defense became fief in the first half of ‘400,during the reign of Giovanna I d’Angiò, and it had a turbulent history, with an important developing period for the local economy, particularly prosperous in the XVIII century. A variety of lieges took turns, among which the countess Ruffo, the Marquise of Rende, the Marquise Caracciolo of Castellaneta and others.   Fights for freedom At the time of the Neapolitan risings, the village rallied to the cause planting the tree of freedom in the square and suffered the consequences. Many patriots were murdered and the village plundered and burnt in retaliation. An age-old contentious between the last liege, De Marinis, and the inhabitants, concluded in 1810 in favour of the squire, caused discomfort to the local residents for 30 years, putting their lives in peril.     Camillo D’Errico like Federico II In 1861 Camillo D’Errico was elected Mayor and held the office for 35 years, dealing with very important works for the development of the area. D’Errico loved the arts and knowledge and with the passing of time he created the biggest private art collection in the south of Italy, with 298 paintings of the XVII and XVIII cent., 500 printings of the same period and 8.000 books from his library. In his will he established that the library and the art gallery were to be offered to the village, but today the important art collection is in Matera and Palazzo S.Gervasio is reclaiming it.


Accommodation & Restaurants

Hotel Villa Ester S.S. 168 – KM 30+500 – 85026  – PALAZZO SAN GERVASIO Ristorante “Il Rifugio” next to Santa Giulia Lake Ristorante Pizzeria ” Latorraca” S.S.168 – 85026  – PALAZZO SAN GERVASIO Ristorante Pizzeria ” Bar Tango” Via G. Marconi – 85026  – PALAZZO SAN GERVASIO Pizzeria ” Il Cantuccio” P.le V. d’Errico – 85026  – PALAZZO SAN GERVASIO Pizzeria ” Mondo Pizza ” P.le V. d’Errico -85026  – PALAZZO SAN GERVASIO Ristorante Pizzeria ” Dinamic Club ” C.da Marascione – 85026  – PALAZZO SAN GERVASIO



manfredi01The de facto successor Manfredi of Hohenstaufen was Fredrick II ‘s beloved child, born from the extramarital relationship with Bianca Lancia. Grown up in Venosa, between 1248 and 1249, he married Beatrice di Savoia. Been widowed in 1259, he married Elena Ducas, daughter of the despot from Epiro, Michele II, to whom five children were born. In 1250 Fredrick left him also the principality of Taranto with other minor feuds and devolved upon him the lieutenancy in Italy, in particular that of Sicily, until his legitimate brother, Corrado IV, who was engaged in Germany, would come. Manfredi inherited other things as well, like the love for poetry and science. Moreover, in the same way of his great father, the young and blonde prince was excommunicated by the Pope, whose troops he managed to defeat in 1255 in a battle near Foggia. The cultural circle of Manfredi After the above-mentioned victory, Manfredi, still twenty-three years old, chose the castle of Palazzo S. Gervasio to cheer up from the war pains. Here, despite the amusement of the boar, deer and fallow deer hunting and the refreshments of the near wood, the prince got sick probably from a bronchopneumonia. Invalid and close to death, he rounded up all his friends in a cultural circle in which books about philosophy and literature were read. There were the Neapolitan reporter, Niccolò de Jasmilla, a famous jurisconsult, Messer Gervasio di Martina, count Manfredo Maletta and the Lancia Brothers. During his convalescence he asked them to keep him company by reading the “Liber de Pomo sive de morte Aristotilis” to meditate upon the afterworld. It was right about here that Manfredi began to translate this book from Hebrew into Latin, which had been carried from Sicily by a big Arab wise man in the age of Fredrick II. The Swabian prince regained his health thanks to the salubrious air and the crystalline waters of Palazzo S.Gervasio.    

The mortal remains in the rain and wind In 1263 the French of Angiò were officially called in Italy by the Pope for a sort of Crusade against the Swabians. The crucial battle in Benevento took place on February 26th 1266; the Sicilian and Saracenic militias together with the German ones defended strenuously their king, while the Italian ones abandoned Manfredi who died fighting with desperate courage. His body was buried in the battlefield under a stone heap but his tomb was soon infringed by a command of the Pontiff and his body was exhumed and laid down out of the Church State federal confines. ” His mortal bones…are now wet with rain and moved by the wind”. (Dante, Divine Comedy – Purgatory, Canto III, line 130) Nel 1263 i Francesi d’Angiò venivano ufficialmente chiamati dal Papa in Italia per una sorta di Crociata contro gli Svevi. La decisiva battaglia di Benevento, avvenne il 26 febbraio 1266; le milizie siciliane e saracene insieme alle tedesche difesero strenuamente il loro re, mentre quelle italiane abbandonarono Manfredi che morì combattendo con disperato valore. Il corpo fu seppellito sul campo di battaglia sotto un mucchio di pietre ma la tomba fu ben presto violata per ordine del Pontefice ed il corpo riesumato fu deposto, quale scomunicato, fuori dai confini dello Stato della Chiesa. “Le sue ossa mortali …or le bagna la pioggia e move il vento”. (Dante, Divina Commedia -Purgatorio, canto III, v. 130)


Palazzo San Gervasio

On the hill where the town of Norman origin rises you will breathe that healthy which was the salvation of Manfredi, beloved son of Frederick II, who was here at the point of death following a battle against the papal army. The Palazzesi have preserved the memory of those years, naming the main street after the young Swabian, the same street that led from the palace to the stables. You can also enjoy the cool local waters – appreciated by the handsome prince – a nearly 40 km long aqueduct leading up to Canosa di Puglia. Very little remains, however, of the hundreds of acres of woodland covered by Frederick of Swabia during his famous hunting. The landscape, however, does not disappoint visitors who travel to the town of Norman origin who has linked its history to that of the Palace: the castle overlooking a charming and very wide landscape that extends between the verdant hills of the Vulture and the Karst Plateau Murge.