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