The Beautiful Lucera

The Beautiful Lucera

Thursday 05 May 2022

Nestled between the gentle profiles of the Albano, Belvedere and Sacro hills is the beautiful Lucera, a delightful town that looks towards the green and golden chessboard of the Tavoliere delle Puglie. Lucera was important under Rome but became splendid in the Swabian and Angevin period and among the most precious treasures it preserves is the beautiful Fortress.

The Fortress is located just outside the city center, immersed in an enchanting view of the area; to access it, you cross a wooden and iron bridge that crosses the moat. The site of the fortress is fascinating from a landscape point of view but also a precious mine of archaeological treasures.

This place was widely used in ancient times and today traces of different eras remain visible: Neolithic huts, Roman ruins, water pipes, the remains of a church dedicated to St. Francis.

The base plinth and part of the walls with the slits remain of the castle built by Frederick II. If from the outside the castle had a threatening and inaccessible aspect, inside it was a luxurious imperial residence. The walls that can be seen today were built by the Angevins who wanted to transform Frederick's castle into a true autonomous military citadel. A long stop at this site allows you to enjoy the architectural beauty of the work but also the beauty of the surrounding area.

Leaving the archaeological site, to enter the city we recommend that you take viale Castello, a beautiful panoramic road that leads to the historic and luxuriant municipal villa. The villa occupies part of the Belvedere hill and from the extreme point, the Salvatore, you can admire a landscape that includes the Tavoliere delle Puglie, the Subappennino Dauno and the Gargano massif. It will be very pleasant to walk around the villa in the cool of the palms, holm oaks and elms that many decorate the elegant avenues.If you leave the villa on Piazza Matteotti, along a short stretch you will meet the Church of S. Antonio with the beautiful polychrome dome, and continuing for the streets head towards Piazza Duomo to admire the city's Cathedral.

The Cathedral is among the most precious treasures of Lucera and is considered among the most beautiful in the south. The Church is located in the heart of the historic center, the elegant stone living room of the city. Once in the square, stop and take the time to admire the refined facade of the church with the delicate chromatic contrast between the masonry and the details of the decorations. The facade is also striking for its unusual asymmetry, squeezed between a square bell tower and an octagonal tower; the bodies that make up the façade are enhanced by the use of white bricks placed at the corners of the volumes.

Inside the church, be sure to admire a finely decorated 15th century Baptistery and the marvelous altars, in polychrome marble, from 1700. The high altar was made from a stone slab found among the remains of the nearby Castel Fiorentino the table of Frederick II of Swabia.

Not far from the Cathedral, there is the Church-Sanctuary of San Francesco, with simple and austere lines that blend with Gothic elements, inside which the body of San Francesco Antonio Fasani is venerated.

After a lot of walking, you could think of a delicious regenerating stop in one of the numerous trattorias and enjoy the genuine local recipes; do not forget to try the Akkuesale made with bread, fresh tomatoes, olives, cucumber and onion, or "A Fellate", an appetizer based on eggs, cured meats, anchovies, olives and pickles; for a good first course choose one of the numerous typical pasta shapes but all must be accompanied by the famous Cacc 'e mitt', a full-bodied wine with a ruby red color that is produced in the surrounding area. , you cannot miss the visit to the Roman Amphitheater. If you are near the Duomo, intercept viale Aldo Moro and then viale Augusteo which will take you directly to the amphitheater.

The Augusteo amphitheater is extraordinarily well preserved, occupies a natural depression in the ground and if you have the impression of being in front of a majestic work ... you are right! In fact, it has a capacity of 17,000 spectators and an arena measuring 75.20 × 43.20 meters; you will certainly be enchanted by the beauty and majesty of this wonderful place. The amphitheater was built between 27 BC. and 14 A.D. by M. Vecilus Campus, a local magistrate who built it in honor of the emperor Octavian. Unfortunately, the original structure, probably due to several earthquakes, suffered damage and collapses and what we see today is the result of several restoration and recovery interventions that have taken place over the years. Of particular value are the two portals located to the west and east, made of Apricena stone and bearing the frieze with the dedicatory inscription to the emperor.

The amphitheater was intended to host gladiator shows, as can be seen from the round shield with a javelin placed diagonally that can be seen on the central tympanum. Also worth visiting is the lapidary which preserves numerous architectural materials and fragments dating back to the Republican age and the late Empire. These are fragments of sculptures, friezes, capitals, shelves and columns probably coming from the city and the surrounding area, testifying how Lucera and its surroundings were embellished with public and private monuments of great grandeur and artistic importance.

With the visit to the amphitheater you have certainly seen the most precious treasures of Lucera but the historic center also deserves an "aimless" walk through the streets, alleys and small squares to admire the numerous noble palaces, small churches and many votive shrines largely dedicated to the Madonna, a minor artistic heritage but a spontaneous testimony of the character and sentiment of the city.

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