Discover Gravina, in Apulia!
With all its charm, Gravina is the kind of city that enchants. Much of the city extends on the banks of a ravine more than 100 m deep and, with its “stone designs”, the city offers the tourist truly incredible panoramas! Today we are going to Gravina! Let’s get to the post of the day: Discover Gravina, in Apulia! Here at Your Travel to Italy with Ana Patricia you make the trip of your dreams !!! ALSO: see our “Accommodation in Italy – Tips for your holidays!”.
Gravina is a city still unknown by the great mass of tourists, but it is the kind of place that deserves a visit! If you don’t know what to see in Gravina, Apulia, I suggest you start discovering it from the gorge that names the city and which, without a doubt, is the main tourist attraction in the city.
The ravines were formed thanks to navigable waterways, which over the millennia have naturally excavated the territory to create large inlets. The stream that flows there has always been an important water resource for the inhabitants of Gravina and the gorges are the foothold around which the city was born and evolved, basing its tourism.
1) Discover Gravina, in Apulia! VISIT SIDION
We’ll start with Sidion, which dates back to the Neolithic era and was located on the Petra Magna hill, or also called Botromagno (archaeological site). It is on the west side, facing the place where the city is. With the Greeks, Sidion evolved to become an important center and a great reference for the region. Already under Roman rule, the city was called Silvium, and became a military station that served to supply armies during conflicts.
The city almost disappeared shortly before the fall of the Roman Empire and was partially destroyed by the earthquake of 455 AD, but its inhabitants took refuge in the caves of the ravine, called “La Gravina”, and started to use them as home. In part, they are still accessible. It is possible to visit the niches, installations, ventilations and water tanks that were made through holes in the ground. This whole set still manages to show what life was like for those populations who lived the splendor, and the fall, of the Greek and Roman civilizations.
2) Discover Gravina, in Apulia! VISIT THE CAVES OF GRAVINA
There are around eighty caves in Gravina; some are spacious, like the seven-chamber cave, and several of them are churches, like the crypt of San Vito Vecchio, and the church of San Michele delle grotte: all carved in the tuff, beautiful! San Michele delle grotte is located at the end of the Fondovico district and was the “mother church” of the refugees, which facilitated Gravina’s rebirth.
3) Discover Gravina, in Apulia! VISIT THE MEDIEVAL BASTION
In the city, an elegant bridge for aqueducts, built in the late 17th century, connects the two sides of Gravina and was used to transport the water collected in a sedimentation tank to the city. The bridge collapsed due to the 1722 earthquake, but it was rebuilt a few years later. Passing through the aqueduct, you reach the east side and, there, you will find the Medieval Bastion: the only element still existing in the ancient walls that defended the city from the many attacks suffered over the centuries.
4) Discover Gravina, in Apulia! VISIT THE HISTORIC CENTER OF GRAVINA
After the Bastion, follow a cobblestone road, which culminates in a slight climb, to then reach the Historic Center of Gravina. The districts of Piaggio, Fondovico and Borgo give it a rounded shape. Piaggio and Fondovico were born in the same period, probably before the destruction of Silvium, and were dependent on Rome. Over the centuries, they have been expanded and enriched with tufted houses and churches, which are connected through an almost “labyrinth” of stairs and narrow alleys: the view is stunning!
Orsini Doge’s Palace and the Bishop’s Palace
A must-see is Orsini Doge’s Palace, in the Repubblica Square. The Orsini family ruled Gravina for more than five centuries and enriched it with numerous and important structures and works of art, always investing in culture.
Another beautiful palace is the Bishop’s Palace, in Benedetto XIII Square, where there is a statue dedicated to the eponymous pope. The palace was built in the 9th century AD, but collapsed along with the Norman castle, cathedral and many churches, towers and houses during the violent earthquakes of 1456. It was rebuilt only in the 16th century and underwent numerous changes at the hands of the bishops of the city.
Other Palaces in Gravina
Gravina is home to several palaces and villas, all linked to nobles and scholars who have stood out for their service to society in the city’s history. Among the most famous are Palazzo Calderoni-Martini, on via Michelangelo Calderoni; Palazzo Popolizio, on via Guglielmo Marconi; the Villa D’Ecclesis, by Emanuele D’Ecclesis, on via Ludovico Maiorana; Palazzo Lettieri in via Museo, owned by Count Maurizio Lettieri; the Palazzo and Piazza Scacchi of mineralogist, volcanologist, crystallographer and geologist Arcangelo Scacchi, in Scacchi Square, of course.
The Gravina Museums
The city has four museums. The Museum and Library of the Ettore Pomarici Santomasi Foundation preserve the most important finds from the archaeological areas of Gravina, especially those found at Colle Petra Magna, in addition to almost eight thousand books donated by noble families. The other three museums: the Museum of the Laboratory of Rural Life and Ancient Crafts, in San Domenico Square; the Civic Archaeological Museum in Benedetto XIII Square, and the Capitular Museum of Sacred Art in Notar Domenico Square may not be as interesting, but they are not less beautiful.
The Church of Gravina
The Church of Gravina also manages the Finya Library, the oldest in Apuia. The library is located in Notar Domenico Square and is very interesting.
Other beautiful churches in Gravina are: Church of Santa Sofia, Church of San Nicola, Church of Mater Grazia, Church of Sant’Agostino, Church of San Domenico, Church of Santa Lucia, Church of San Giovanni Battista, Church of Santa Maria delle Domenicane, Church of San Felice, Church of the Madonna della Grazia, Church of San Francesco, Church of San Sebastiano, Church of Addolorata and, finally, the Church of Santa Maria del Suffragio – also known as the Church of Purgatory. All are beautiful, it would be unfair to say which one to visit. Golden Tip: when you passed a church, stop and have a look, you’ll be amazed!
The Cathedral of Gravina
The Cathedral of Gravina was built in 1065 and was almost completely destroyed by the earthquake of 1456. In 1482, its renovation was ordered by Bishop Matteo D’Aquino who, supported by the citizens and financed by Duke Francesco II Orsini, began rebuilding the cathedral.
Another must-see is the Underground Gravina! The attraction has become a must for anyone visiting this very special city! The tour is beautiful, but it is necessary to make reservations and use sneakers. For information on prices, schedules and booking requests, you can access the official website of Gravina Sotterranea.
Where to eat in Gravina?
If you go to Gravina don’t forget my advice for eating in town. See my indications below:
With delicious food and super kind service, it offers the best of Apulia cuisine with well-served portions and attractive prices.
- Where it is: Corso Vittorio Emanuele 12, 70024 – Gravina in Puglia, Italy.
- Hours: Monday, from 10:00 am to 12:30 pm; Tuesday to Sunday, from 11:00 am to 2:30 pm; Thursday to Tuesday, from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm.
- CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE OR BOOK!
Lo Fa Luccio
Very cozy, it is one of the most frequented restaurants, also, by the locals. The menu offers incredible sandwiches, well filled, delicious and at great prices. The service is exquisite!
- Where it is: Piazza Notar Domenico 22, 70024 – Gravina in Puglia, Italy.
- Hours: every day, from 7:00 pm to 12:30 am.
With great dishes, it offers an excellent menu for all tastes. The service is incredible and prices are very fair.
- Where it is: Piazza Bruno Buozzi 27-28, 70024 – Gravina in Puglia, Italy.
- Hours: every day, from 10:00 am to 12:00 am.
How to get to Gravina?
1) How to get to Gravina? BY TRAIN
Rail connections are to both Bari and Potenza via the FAL (Apulo-Lucane railway). State railways connect Gravina via Gioia del Colle-Rocchetta S. Antonio.
Did you know?
Trenitalia is the main Italian company dedicated to the management of railway transport? Find out here “What is the difference between trains in Italy?”. Buy your ticket online in advance and save a lot, read the Post “How to buy a train ticket in Italy?”.
2) How to get to Gravina? BY CAR
The main road connections are via the A14 Bologna–Taranto motorway, exit Trani-Corato, to and from northern Italy; options: S. S. 96 Bari from Bari and Potenza, S. S. 97 from Murge to Canosa and Foggia, P.A. 53 from Matera. Read here some examples and tips about Travel by car in Italy!
Travelling by car in Italy
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Important to know
- Also, it is important to know that in tourist cities there are places (historic centers) where PARKING IS PROHIBITED , and it can only be used by people who live there! That’s why it’s important not to go to these places so as not to take unnecessary fines.
- How to understand what these places are? See the post that talks about it, but anyway, another tip for those who are unsure about it, is to park a little outside the center and go downtown on foot or, spending a little more, by taxi or other public transport.
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Discover Gravina, in Apulia! Visiting Gravina is getting to know a beautiful part of Apulia’s history. It’s leaving there already missing it, eager to go back.
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