Info Conversano

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  • Apulia





    126,90 Kmq


    Piazza XX Settembre 25

Conversano, a medieval village on the Murge

Conversano, with its little medieval suburb, lies on the first hills of the Murge; it was already peopled during the Prehistoric Age by Peuceti and Japigi and it is possible to find an evidence of their passage in the ruins of the megalithic walls surrounding the ancient Norba, which can be perfectly admired near the abbey of San Benedetto and at the base of the main tower of the castle. Its origins date back to the Iron Age, when according to most scholars the old settlement of Norba was founded; it was probably destroyed about 441 in consequence of the fall of the Western Roman Empire because of the Visigoti. In the 11th century Conversano became one very important county with properties all over the central and southern zone of Apulia. The first count was Goffredo d’Altavilla in 1054, who was the nephew of Roberto il Guiscardo duke of Apulia. The town is deeply linked with the noble family Aragona which has been feudatory of Conversano since the 15th century transforming it in an elegant Renaissance court devoted to arts and literature. The count Giulo Antonio and his son Andrea Matteo, distinguished themselves by fighting in 1481 in order to reconquer Otranto, which was besieged by Turks; their courage was repaid by Ferdinando I, king of Naples, who let them add the royal name Aragona to the family name Acquaviva.

The main symbol of the town is its imposing castle which stands in a commanding position dominating the whole area as far as the seaside. The structure has been reorganized many times during the centuries and it is characterized by some fortifications which date back to the medieval period; the castle then underwent subsequent Renaissance and Baroque modifications becoming an elegant residence. Evidences of the Norman fortification are the main tower and the medial tower whereas between the 14th and the 15th century some important extension works were realized such as the building of a circular tower at the northern corner. In 1460 the family Acquaviva built a dodecagonal tower: it is an engineering masterpiece because of a cistern, inside of it, around which there is a passage with drains for the defence of the city. In 1710 the present monumental entrance was built with the escutcheon of the noble family; through it we enter the inner courtyard and reach the Renaissance arcade. Many further modifications have been realized in the castle until the end of the 19th century.

In the 17th century the county and the city experienced a period of great prosperity thanks to the count Giangirolamo II known as the Guercio delle Puglie. Famous for his rash chivalrous temperament and known for having been also an important patron, the count Giangirolamo increased the artistic collection of the castle conferring fame and prestige to the family. The meeting with the Neapolitan painter Paolo Finoglio is notorious; he had been guest in Conversano for long time and he realized, for the court, the beautiful ten big paintings (teleri) inspired by Tasso’s Gerusalemme liberata, we can admire within the castle. The heart of the town is represented by the square said della conciliazione, on which the entrance of the Norman castle opens.

Almost in front of the castle we find the Cathedral, emblem of the Apulian Romanesque of the 11th – 12th century. The tripartite hut façade is decorated with three portals and the one in the middle is richly carved and surmounted by a protyrus resting on stylophoric lions; it is also worth mentioning the rose window which dates back to the 15th century. Inside the church shows a basilical plan with three naves and a large transept; at the beginning of the 20th century the church came back to the Romanesque style because of a terrible fire. It has been possible to save from the fire a precious icon which dates back to the 12th century and represents the Vergine della Fonte and, in the left apse, a beautiful 15th century fresco influenced by Tuscan art. Another symbol of the town is the monastery of San Benedetto, known as MONSTRUM APULIAE that is to say astonishment of Apulia. The first Benedictine settlement dates back to the 6th century; in 1098 the count Goffredo provided the monastery with many benefits and properties. In the 13th century the monks left the monastery in consequence of some disagreements with the king Manfredi, son of Federico II, and they were replaced by a women’s branch of the same order. Pope Gregorio X gave the Cistercian nuns the same rights acquired by their predecessors, even the two main episcopal insignia that is to say the mitre and the pastoral staff for the abbess, creating a unique and extraordinary situation in the Latin church.

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Useful information for tourists

Useful information for tourists in Apulia

  • Language:




    International code:


    Travel document:

    Identity card for community citizens; passport for extra-community tourists

  • Useful numbers:

    • Carabinieri 112
    • State Police 113
    • Firemen 115
    • Finance Police 117
    • First Aid 118
  • How to reach Apulia:

    By plane

    Bari Airport: Karol Wojtyla. Brindisi Airport: Papola Casale. Foggia Airport: Gino Lisa

    By train

    Trenitalia links the main Italian cities of Apulia

    On highway

    A14 from Bologna through Foggia and Bari to Taranto

    A16 from Napoli; in Canosa it converges with A14.

Secular olive-groves with crooked trunks appearing as real natural sculptures.

Secular olive-groves

Symbol of the flora of the whole region is the olive tree, which characterizes the territory from the Tavoliere to the end of the Salento with immense fields.

Secular olive-groves

The olive trees with their beauty and charm, given by their secular crooked trunks, embody the history of Apulia thanks to their millenarian presence on the territory. They are the oldest and largest group of millenarian vegetal specimens in the world.

Self- vegetation and animal species in Apulia.

Horse of the Murgia

A huge number of biotopes of vegetable and animal species characterizes the region, even if only the 7% of the territory has been declared protected area. The Apulian self-vegetation is marked by woods, the Mediterranean maquis and the so-called ganga (rocky pasture).

Pink flamingos in the salt marshes of Margherita di Savoia

The region shows two national parks: the Gargano National Park with many areas and reserves and the lakes of Lesina and Varano, and the Alta Murgia National Park.