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.