The Castle

The uncertain foundation Located on a spur of the Gargano at 545 meters above sea level, south-west of the Gargano promontory in the municipality of Apricena, Castel Pagano, of which there are few ruins left, was part of a village whose origin is uncertain. The epoch of the foundation of this fortress is uncertain, it is thought to be even before the construction of Apricena, so in the second half of the ninth century. Already flourishing in the eleventh century under the rule of the Norman Count Henry and although impregnable due to the nature of the place, in 1137 the castle fell into the hands of Lothair III. The mark of Frederick II Frederick II, who resided in the nearby Apricena, restored and adjusted it to his hunting amusements and installed there a garrison of trustworthy Saracens, hence the name Castel Pagano as non-Christians were called pagans. Then the village was a fief of Manfred, son of Frederick II and founder of Manfredonia, and was later donated to the King for royal right. 

Subsequent owners In 1496, Ferdinand gave it to Ettore Pappacoda of Naples, who gave splendor to the whole area and building the Sanctuary of Stignano in 1515; when the family died out, he returned to the royal land administration. On March 10th, 1580 Antonio Brancia, from whom takes its name the location below, bought it from Philip II for 90 thousand ducats. In 1732 it belonged to the Mormiles, then it was bought by Don Garzia di Toledo, and, in 1768, from him by the Prince Cattaneo of Sannicandro. What remains Surely it was subject to several earthquakes, testified by documents in which is told the story of 1627 when Apricena and surroundings suffered tremendous damage. Currently the ruins consist of a wall along about fifty meters and high no more than a meter and a half with two openings that were two door with worked jambs. This wall makes a corner on the left with very brief factory remains and on the right it is linked to a circular tower, which currently does not exceed five meters. From this tower starts a continuous wall slightly battered overlooking the valley below. A third wall closes the quadrangle to the south. In a corner stands the main tower with five sides six or seven meters high. Within the quadrilateral you can see traces of walls, but not enough to make us understand the internal structure of the castle. The abandonment The village was gradually abandoned at the beginning of the seventeenth century because of the move of the inhabitants to Apricena, probably because of the great scarcity of water and then the complex was subject to looting of local pastors who took the stones of the structure to build their shelters in the Sant’Anna valley below. Sources: wikipedia Felice Clima ( Ludovico Centola – La Valle degli Eremi


The History

The motto “Et aperuit coenam” (And he opened the dinner), Motto of the City of Apricena attributed to Frederick II. The name Apricena derives from the Latin Apri coena and it means boar dinner: it is said that the Emperor Frederick II decided to have there a rich banquet based on the meat of a huge boar he had hunted in the near woods. 

The imperial dinner “The huge boar pierced by the arrow of the august emperor, enthroned, rather smoking, on the long adorned table, for the famous ceremony and thereafter it consecrated by his sacrifice the birth of the city …! And deer and pheasants roasted in strongly flavored sauces, with pepper, cloves, cinnamon and ginger, and eels from Alesinae’s piscarie smoking on skewers, served on a bed of field herbs with wild onions and radishes in plain sight … enriched the dining room! On the wide table, in the central pantry, the white buffalo of the terremare floated in the bed of the Fortore in Ripalta and also mozzarellas of the grassy hill pastures on the border of Fiorentino and Dragonara; the green olives of the hills of “Morsica” and “St. Trifone”alsowinked. The blonde pyramids of oranges from Rodi and Vico towered on the waterfalls of white and black grapes from Casone and San Severo and on the full-bodied chestnuts of the forests at the foot of the mountain, up toward “Crastate”, of the “Forest” or of  “Castelluccia” on the high mountain;that sort of unusual “terracqueous globes”, arranged here and there, alternated with“melons of bread” from Apricena, “the ugly and the beautiful ones”, with a soft pink core and green arabesque shell in large pieces, which breathed an almost aphrodisiac, intense scent from the vegetable garden in the manor farm of “Mezzana delle Querce” and from the “Quattro Porte” in the “Piano delle Poste”, before climbing up towards the Sacro Monte through the range of mountains of Voltapianezza and Stigliano. The night hesitated to die!” The origins The original name appears to have been “Procina” resulting from “pigsty”, but Apricena was one of the places of Capitanata among the favourites of the emperor Frederick II of Swabia and thanks to the Puer Apuliae – who used to hunt and stay in this pleasant site – the name was changed to “Apricena” from “aper” (wild boar), in reference to a lavish dinner based on wild boar meat in his honor; the date of the historic event that marked the birth of the country is attributable to 1225. Apricena, however, has more ancient origins; since the eighth century, in fact, it was home to Schiavonis and Albanians. The city was also a colony of Saracen mercenaries, loyal subjects of Frederick II, who granted them special privileges. The vicissitudes In 1304 Apricena became a fief of the Bishop of Lucera; fought over by the Aragonese, French and Spaniards, it passed from lordship to lordship until, with the proclamation of the kingdom of Italy, it gained independence. Numerous traces of its past have been erased by frequent earthquakes that over the centuries shook the whole area. The Baronial Palace still survives, which incorporated the remains of the farmhouse built by Frederick II. Interesting are also the ruins of Castel Pagano, old Saracen fortress situated near the town.


Accommodation & Restaurants

ACCOMMODATION Affittacamere DE CAROLIS ANGELINA IL CINGHIALE AFFITTACAMERE VIALE G. DI VITTORIO, 89 APRICENA Telefono 0882-641364 MI.MA.NA. SNC di NARGISO M. AFFITTACAMERE S.S. 89, KM.17,900 APRICENA Telefono 349-5852932 RESTAURANTS Ristorante Pizzeria Sala Ricebimenti Il Cinghiale 87. V. DI VITTORIO GIUSEPPE – 71011 – APRICENA (FG) Ristorante Pizzeria dell’Incoronata V. KM. 3 PROV. APRICENA POGGIO IMPERIALE – 71011 – APRICENA (FG) Ristorante Federico Ii dei F.Lli Lombardi 60. V. SAURO NAZARIO – 71011 – APRICENA (FG) Ristorante Giaconera di Di Guglielmo A. and C. Snc V. PELLICO – 71011 – APRICENA (FG)