The Castle

The first time Frederick II never visited the domus he had created in Fiorentino on an old Norman castle, except once: in 1250, when it was in full swing the fight against the pope and the northern municipalities and his armies began to prevail. In early December, when he was in his winter domus of Foggia, he decided to go hunting in the countryside of Capitanata where he was struck by fever and was forced to stop in Castelfiorentino, in the domus visited for the first time. Sub fiore Initially he did not pay much attention to the name of the place where he was because he was often struck by loss of consciousness. In a rare moment of lucidity, he had learned to be in his Domus of Fiorentino and that his bed had been placed against a walled-up door which, long before, gave access to one of the castle towers. He was told that the doors of the gate were made of iron. In learning this, the mind of Frederick immediately remembered the prophecy of the court astrologer Michele Scoto, saying that he would “fade” in a city “sub fiore”, near an iron gate. Legend has it that the emperor, desiring immortality, had always carefully avoided to go to Florence. The last breath of the Puer Apuliae Frederick II realized that his destiny had called him to die in his beloved Apulia and so he called the grandees of the kingdom, he dictated his will, he was absolved of all his sins, put on the humble gray habit of the Cistercians and died in the presence of the Archbishop of Palermo, Berardo, of the great avenger of the Magna Curia, Riccardo of Montenero, of his son Manfred, then eighteen, of Pietro Ruffo, who managed the imperial stables, of Riccardo, Count of Caserta and son-in-law of the emperor, and of the doctor Giovanni da Procida. His body was carried into the cathedral of Palermo, his viscera in Foggia. At the hand of Manfred? About the emperor’s death, the Historia Sicula of the Anonymous Vatican says instead of the emperor, gone to falconry, who raped a woman in a church, under the image of the Virgin: punished with dysentery, he was carried to Castelfiorentino, where Manfredi strangled him with a pillow.  The underground domus Today, of the ancient domus that has inspired many legends only a cross pointed vault and a section of the wall survive. Only the aerial photo lets us read among the piles of rubble its not perfect rectangular shape and the perimeter of a square tower; archaeological excavations show that the interior consisted of two large rooms each with a fireplace and tile floors with bricks in a herringbone pattern. Fragments of capitals, columns and pillars, cornices and polychrome glass windows show the richness of the interior decoration of the imperial residence. Of such opulence little is left because the building was later used as a stone quarry. Sources: “La via dei canti” di Angelo Lucano Larotonda


The History

Where once stood Fiorentino A few kilometres from Torremaggiore, on the farthest west side of a hill called the Sterparone, once stood the village of Fiorentino, Byzantine frontier hamlet that was a bishopric, a Norman county and belonged to the Swabian state land administration prior to be enfeoffed by the Angevins. The ancient citadel You might not guess, looking at what remains, but recent archaeological excavations have shown that where today are the remains of an old Frederician domus, once stood an important citadel with a cathedral, an urban area and, in the west, the “Palatium” of the emperor. That December 13th,1250 No one would say that in this disappeared village one of the greatest emperors of the middle ages exhaled his last breath: he was Frederick II, and here he died on December 13th, 1250 at only 56 years old. In Fiorentino the Swabian expanded and reinforced the old Norman castle: not finding it particularly interesting for defensive purposes, he did not include it in the system of castles but in the system of domus solaciarum of the Tavoliere. The last hunt of the Swabian The Swabian emperor was in Florentine for a hunt when he was struck by a violent attack of dysentery. His serious condition did not allow him to re-enter the palace of Foggia and it was decided to shelter him in Castel Fiorentino, the nearest imperial residence. The loyalty of Fiorentino The degradation of the citadel began five years after the death of Frederick II when it was attacked and destroyed by the troops of Pope Alexander IV because it had remained loyal to the Swabians. The same fate befell the inhabitants of Dragonara, another medieval village of which only a castle remains, used for agricultural purposes: all its inhabitants took refuge near the Norman-Swabian Castrum, in the shadow of the Benedictine Abbey, together with the inhabitants of Fiorentino and there the Abbot Leone allowed them to found a new village, today’s town of Torremaggiore. The last Templars In 1295 the Abbey was given to the Templars who stayed there until 1313 when they too were massacred and the looting of of the site began, up to total ruin. Among the items removed was even the great marble slab, used as a floor of the altar in the Cathedral of Lucera, which was reportedly Frederick’s dining hall. On the trail of the Swabians Today Castel Fiorentino is sacred to the memory of the Swabians and countless are the German-speaking tourists who go there following the still existing tracks of Frederick II, Manfred and Conradin. Source: “Sito archeologico di Fiorentino (Foggia)” by Alberto Gentile (Copyright ©2002 Alberto Gentile), published on


Accommodation & Restaurants

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