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The castle is built directly on a rocky bank, in many points outcropping, and is universally known for its octagonal shape. Eight towers of the same shape are grafted on each of the eight edges in the local limestone curtain walls, marked by a string course cornice, eight monoforces open on the lower level, seven mullioned windows and a single three-light window, facing towards Andria, in the upper one.
The courtyard, octagonal in shape, is characterized, like the whole building, by the chromatic contrast deriving from the use of coral breccia, limestone and marble; once there were also ancient sculptures, of which only the slab depicting the Procession of the Knights and a Fragment of an anthropomorphic figure remain.
On the upper floor there are three French windows, under which there are some projecting elements and some holes, perhaps intended to support a wooden gallery useful to make the rooms independent of each other, all communicating with each other with a path ring, with the exception of the first and eighth, separated by a wall in which a large òculo, probably used to communicate, opens upwards.
The sixteen rooms, eight for each floor, have a trapezoidal shape and have been covered with an ingenious solution. The space is divided, in fact, into a central square span covered with a ribbed cross, (with semi-columns in brèccia corallina on the ground floor and three-lobed marble pillars on the upper one), while the remaining triangular spaces are covered with ogival barrel vaults.
The keystones of the cruises are different from one another, decorated with anthropomorphic, zoomorphic and phytomorphic elements.
The connection between the two floors takes place through three spiral staircases inserted in as many towers.
Some of these towers accommodate cisterns for collecting rainwater, partly channeled also towards the cistern dug into the rock, below the central courtyard. In other towers, instead, there are the bathrooms, equipped with latrine and sink, and placed side by side
all from a small room, probably used as a dressing room or perhaps destined to accommodate baths for ablutions, since body care was widely practiced by Frederick II and his court, according to a custom typical of that Arab world so loved by the sovereign.
Great interest is given to the sculptural equipment which, although heavily depleted, provides a significant testimony to the original decorative apparatus, once also characterized by the wide chromatic range of materials
employed: mosaic tiles, majolica tiles, vitreous pastes and wall paintings, of which some local writers and historians saw traces between the end of the 18th century and the early 19th century, describing them in their works.
Currently the two anthropomorphic shelves in the falconer’s tower are still present, the telamons that support the umbrella vault of one of the scalar towers and a fragment of the floor mosaic in the VIII room on the ground floor. In the Bari Provincial Art Gallery, two important sculptural fragments were temporarily deposited, depicting a Head and an Acephalous Bust, discovered during the long restorations, which did not return any trace, instead, of the octagonal basin placed in the center of the courtyard. cited by some scholars of the last century.
The position of the cathedral of Trani has made it one of the most famous in the world; made of clear limestone, supplied by the generous quarries of the place, it is the sentinel of one of the most important maritime cities of Puglia, and is an excellent example of Apulian Romanesque architecture.
The current cathedral stands on the site already occupied by the previous early Christian cathedral, documented from the 9th century and dedicated to the Virgin. Of that venerable place, completely demolished to give rise to the new construction, the hypogeum sacellum dedicated to the proto-bishop of Brindisi San Leucio and some pieces of mosaic floor remain.
The sacellum is a square room of the Longobard age, with a central space able to accommodate the relics, inspected by small windows, and an annular ambulatory that allowed the one-way flow of the row of devotees, with different passages for the entrance and the outcome.
The great church began to rise in 1099, by the will of the Byzantine bishop, following the death and canonization of the young pilgrim Nicola, landed in Trani, from Greece. Cathedral; built with public money, it is the result of a daring unitary project, aimed at isolating the building from rising sea waters; it is entirely sub divo, including the most important environment for a Romanesque church, the crypt, destined to preserve the relics of the patron saint of Trani, San Nicola il Pellegrino. The crypt of the cathedral of Trani, in fact, does not correspond to the etymology, it is not at all ‘hidden’, it is bright and high, with cruises supported by a forest of very elegant Greek marble columns; passages that are walled up today allowed access from the outside and functioning independently until the longitudinal body was completed; however, the position of the crypt remains the canonical one, below the presbytery, as it was ingeniously aligned with a hall church, set on two rows of low columns, which preserves only in the name the memory of the ancient church of S. Maria and constitutes the support of the upper church, dedicated to the Virgin of the Assumption.
This has a basilical plan with a transept and three aisles, a trussed roof on the central, a minor cruise, a women’s gallery, twin columns as unusual and graceful support; its construction continued until the last decades of the 12th century; in the presbytery, substantial traces of the original mosaic floor are read, similar in quality, themes and workmanship to the floor of the cathedral of Otranto (1165).
Both the lower and upper churches are accessed from the high façade; at the first, through a wide arched passage below the stairs, at the second, through a short churchyard already affected by a portico, demolished in the 18th century, of which traces of the arches on the façade and the bases of the pillars remain, interspersed with seats along the parapet, loggia open on a splendid view of the castle of Frederick II, on the sea.
The apsidal area also involves two overlapping rooms, the presbytery and the crypt, with the result, outside, of the magnificent triad of the majestic apses.
The bell tower flanks the façade, built starting from the XIII century and signed, on the frame of the high road base, by Nicolaus sacerdos et protomagister.
The Sassi of Matera, declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993, are a unique place with an extraordinary charm that testify to how man lived for thousands of years in a fairy-tale environment: the rocky context that characterizes both the 32 hectares in which is divided into the urban nucleus of the Sassi, and all the surrounding area largely protected by the Archaeological Natural Historical Park of the Rock Churches of Matera.
The Sassi of Matera are connected with the current center of the city that is on the plane through numerous accesses that create a continuous exchange between these two urban environments. To access the Sassi just take one of the many streets or alleys that go down from the city center towards the ancient districts.
What are the Sassi of Matera
Originally the Sassi of Matera were simply a rocky environment in continuity with the one located on the opposite side of the canyon carved by the Gravina di Matera. The western side on which this urban nucleus was created is constituted at the bottom by steep walls that overlook the stream and higher up a series of terraces, hills and plains more suitable for human settlement, places that over the millennia have been transformed from rock villages to a real city.
The first human settlements date back to the Paleolithic and developed in caves that very numerous characterize the rocky landscape of Matera. Over time this landscape has been increasingly modified by the man who carved and shaped the mother rock, finding above all in the friable limestone layer (tuff) an exceptional possibility of settlement sheltered from natural agents. The environments excavated into real rock complexes formed the first form of the urban core, still present to a large extent inside the buildings and buildings built over the last millennium.
After going through the prehistoric phases of the Paleolithic, the Neolithic and the various metal ages, the history of Matera will be strongly characterized by the advent of Christianity. The Christian imprint becomes culturally dominant in a short time. Throughout the Middle Ages the rocky landscape was systematically transformed by the construction of impressive places of worship. During this impressive period, the majestic Cathedral of Matera, the church of San Giovanni Battista, the Church of S. Domenico, the Church of Santa Maria della Valle Verde on the Via Appia are built. At this moment a true city takes shape, concentrated around the Cathedral at the top of the Civita hill (Civitas, city) which divides the Sassi in two: the Sasso Barisano facing east and the Sasso Caveoso facing south
The trulli, typical houses in limestone of Alberobello in the south of Puglia, are extraordinary examples of dry stone slab construction, a technique dating back to the prehistoric era and still used in this region. Although the rural trulli are scattered throughout the Valle d’Itria, the maximum concentration of best preserved specimens of this architectural form is found in the town of Alberobello, with more than 1500 structures in the districts of Monti and Aja Piccola.
The trulli are traditional dry stone huts with a roof made of dry-set slabs. The trulli generally served as temporary shelters or as permanent dwellings by small landowners or agricultural workers. The trulli were built in roughly worked calcareous stone, extracted during excavations for the construction of underground cisterns, stones collected in the countryside and surrounding rocky outcrops. These buildings have the characteristic rectangular structure with conical roofs in set stones.
The whitewashed walls of the trulli are built directly on the limestone foundations and made with the technique of dry masonry, without mortar or cement. On the double-clad walls with an incoherent core opens a door and small windows. An inner hearth and alcoves are set in the thick walls. Even the roofs are double-layered: a vaulted internal lining in conical-shaped stones, culminating in a keystone, and an impermeable external cone made of limestone slabs, known as chianche or chiancarelle.
The roofs of the buildings often bear inscriptions in white ash of mythological or religious significance, and end with a decorative pinnacle that was intended to drive away evil influences or misfortune. The water is collected through eaves protruding from the base of the roof, from which it then flows through a small channel to a cistern under the house. About a thousand years ago (1,000 BC), the area of the present Alberobello was strewn with rural settlements. The settlements developed to form the current districts of Aia Piccola and Monti. Towards the middle of the 16th century the Monti district was occupied by about forty trulli, but it was only in 1620 that the settlement began its expansion.
In 1797, towards the end of the feudal dominion, the name of Alberobello was adopted, and Ferdinando IV of Borbone, king of Naples, conferred to the locality the title of royal city. After this period, the building of new trulli fell into decline. Between 1909 and 1936, some parts of Alberobello were designated as protected monuments of cultural heritage.
Luisa Piccarreta is still a very widespread name in Corato, an Apulian town located in the northern Bari hinterland. She was born April 23, 1865, Sunday in Albis, fifth of eight daughters, and in the evening of the same day she was baptized in the Mother Church of the country. He participated in the life of his family of peasant origins. The farmer father led the fields of a wealthy owner and with his family he moved for long periods in a “Masseria” on the Murge plateau. It already seemed peculiar that this little girl spent much time hiding to immerse herself in long meditations and prayers. At the age of 9 he received First Communion and Confirmation on the same day and began to hear the voice of Jesus in his “inside” especially after having received Communion. As an interior teacher corrects her and guides her in the spiritual life so that she becomes his “perfect image” and inspired by the life of Nazareth, she educates her to the mortification of the will for love. This is why the Eucharist becomes his “predominant passion” and tries to participate in it whenever he can. At the age of 13 he felt he had to immerse himself in the Passion of Jesus which he began to meditate on a daily basis. She also has a vision of Jesus led to the crucifixion that asks her for help. A long period of desolation and harassment by demons begins.
He joined the “Daughters of Mary”, a lay congregation assisted by Corato dal Sac. D. Michele De Benedictis (1844-1910) and initially located at the Church of the former Capuchin convent. In this place there is also a female Institute of young ladies, daughters of wealthy families, entrusted to the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception of Ivrea. Here Luisa will attend only the first classes of elementary school, having the Sisters as teachers.
The parents did not notice Luisa’s intense inner life until around 17, with the spring season and the transfer to the Masseria in Torre Disperata, Luisa did not manifest a mysterious and increasingly frequent state of suffering with the loss of the senses and subsequent “petrifying” during which he also has some visions of Jesus chooses him as a victim. The phenomena take place more and more frequently enough to force her to bed. They are the prodromes of what Luisa will indicate as the “new life”. Misunderstandings of family members and visits of the family doctor begin. Unable to a certain diagnosis, the doctor finds nothing better than to suggest the “visit” of a priest. The intervention of the Augustinian Fr. Cosma Loiodice was obtained, who knew Luisa thanks to the Daughters of Mary. To everyone’s surprise, the priestly blessing immediately freed her from the state of discomfort and this will continue to be done whenever there is a need, for about 4 years. Read more….
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