Imperial Puglia: Tour Of The Castles Of Frederick II, The German Prince Who Was In Love With Southern Italy.
BARLETTA, TRANI, ANDRIA, CASTEL DEL MONTE, GIOIA DEL COLLE
Frederick II of Swabia (1194-1250) was an incredibly clever man. He was a man of letters, a statesman, a great leader and legislator, but he is known especially for his open-mindedness. Numerous men of culture, including mathematicians, astronomers, musicians, doctors, legislators and philosophers were attracted to his Court. In 1224 he founded the University of Naples, the first laical and public institution, which attracted academics from all over the empire. He focused on the creation of an enlightened absolute monarchy, with modern laws. He owned castles and sumptuous palaces throughout Southern Italy and his was probably the only itinerant Court of the Christian Middle Ages. In order to rule over his empire he often had to move and that is why his Court travelled between Sicily and Germany. The official residence was in Puglia, a beautiful Italian region still known for its tolerant, open and friendly attitude.
Arrive of the members in Barletta and meeting with the tour guide in the afternoon
Tour of the Castle, which used to be a fortress but was turned into a royal residence by Frederick II. Here he gathered his knights before they left for the Sixth Crusade in the Holy Land; nearby you will find the Basilica del Santo Sepolcro, a place full of precious Christian relics that the knights brought back from Palestine, taking them from the Muslims.
Dinner at your leisure and overnight stay
9.00 am Departure and journey to Trani (30min) and tour of the Castle built by the sea, considered one of the most beautiful fortifications commissioned by Frederick II. This is where the sumptuous wedding ceremony between the Emperor’s son Manfredi and the young Elena (17 years old) was celebrated. They were happily married until he died in battle.
Walk to the port and to the Cathedral.
11.00 am Transfer to Castel Del Monte (40′) passing through Andria, a very important city for the Emperor; in the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta you will find the remains of two wives that Frederick lost because they both died in childbirth: Jolanda and Isabella.
Arrive in Castel Del Monte, an enigmatic and extraordinary place, known for its unique octagonal shape and for the mystery concerning its purpose. For this reason many think of it as the most obscure building commissioned by Frederick II of Swabia. This castle (540 meters above sea-level) was built for unknown reasons and it is surrounded by a spectacular solitude, dominating a large area of Puglia and Basilicata.
Because of its peculiar structure many researchers suggested some strange theories, including a path of initiation, a huge mathematical device or an astronomical observatory.
-Lunch at your leisure
2.30 pm Transfer by private bus (1h15′) and arrive in Gioia Del Colle, tour of the Castle, with the legend of Princess Bianca’s ghost. The Emperor wanted this castle to have a defensive purpose but it also was a royal residence: Bianca Lancia lived here. She was his lover and mother of Manfredi and she became queen shortly before she died. The love story between Frederick and Bianca was confirmed by historical evidence and it is still alive and discussed in the small village. Some locals swear they sometimes see the ghost of the Princess.
-5.00 pm end of the tour; private bus available to members for return to BARI (40′) or BARLETTA
Meet your guide in Barletta.
Access to: Barletta Castle, Trani Castle, Castel del Monte and Gioia del Colle Castle
End of the tour at: Bari railway station
Duration: 2 days/1night
The price includes
Full assistance and guided tours for all the sites indicated
Group ticket for “Puglia dei Castelli”
Welcoming aperitif with local products
Licensed tour guide of the Province of Bari
Local transfers by private coach for the whole itinerary (Barletta, Trani, Castel Del Monte, Gioia Del Colle, station)
Round trip –Meals-Overnight stay in Barletta. Tour packages are available for pre-arranged groups including transfers, accommodation and tastings, with collaboration of local travel agencies.