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P.O.D. Dauno Subappennino: among Norman castles and majestic cathedrals

Exploring the territory of P.O.D. Dauno Subappennino extra virgin olive oil, a land of woods, villages perched on the slopes of the mountains, works of art, and breathtaking panoramas.

In the northern part of Tavoliere, the olive trees producing P.O.D. Dauno Subappennino extra virgin olive oil grow in a landscape where the plain meets the first foothills of the Daunia Mountains. On these hills, amid lush forests, small medieval villages cling to the slopes, offering panoramic views of the plain below.

The journey starts from Sant’Agata di Puglia, a charming town perched atop a hill. If you climb to the Castle, built in the Byzantine era and later expanded by the Normans, you will understand why it’s called the ‘loggia of Puglia’: your gaze can sweep over the Tavoliere through the territories of P.O.D. Dauno Subappennino extra virgin olive oil, all the way to Gargano and the Gulf of Manfredonia. Accadia, on the other hand, is a Roman-founded village, unfortunately struck by violent earthquakes in the 15th and 20th centuries. The medieval aspect of the town survives in the Rione Fossi, abandoned after the earthquake of 1930 and now uninhabited. To take a step back in time, stroll through the cobbled streets and characteristic winding alleys that give the village a snail-shaped form. Before leaving, make a detour to the Gole di Accadia to admire the huge centuries-old oaks and enjoy the coolness of the small waterfalls.

Bovino also stands on a height, overlooking the valley of the Cervaro stream, lush with woods and olive plantations destined for the production of P.O.D. Dauno Subappennino extra virgin olive oil. Its cathedral is an interesting Romanesque-style building with bare columns and preserves a canvas by Mattia Preti dedicated to San Sebastiano. Worth a visit are the Cerrato cellars, carved into ancient Roman cisterns hewn from rock, and just outside the town, the Valleverde sanctuary, which houses a 13th-century wooden statue of the Madonna.

Built strategically along the ancient Trajan’s Way, Troia is the heir to the ancient Aecae and stands on the first hills of the Subappennino, overlooking the plain of the Tavoliere della Puglia. Its history as an important episcopal seat is still evident today in the imposing cathedral, built at the end of the 12th century by merging Byzantine, Romanesque, and Islamic influences. The portal with bronze doors and the splendid rose window on the facade contribute to making it a unique work in Puglia. After visiting the Cathedral, take a walk along Corso Regina Margherita, where several historic palaces overlook, and visit the church of San Basilio, in an elegant proto-Romanesque style.

Lucera has been an important center in Capitanata since its Roman municipium past, with remains of thermal baths and the amphitheater dating back to that time. The imposing Castle built by the Angevins on the acropolis of the Roman city encloses the ancient palace of Frederick II, who made Lucera one of his privileged residences and the headquarters of his elite guards, selected from the Saracens of Sicily. In the 14th century, on the ancient Muslim mosque, the Angevins built the Cathedral in Gothic style, distinguished by an unusual asymmetrical brick facade. Explore the interiors, rich in works of art, before making a stop at the Civic Museum, where you can trace the interesting history of the city.

Leaving Lucera behind and crossing a vast agricultural plain cultivated with crops, vegetables, and olive trees producing D.O.P. Dauno Subappennino extra virgin olive oil, you will reach Motta Montecorvino, where you can lose yourself in the medieval streets of the historic center. Take a break in the green Volturara Appula, surrounded by the mountains of Daunia, to have a look at the former Romanesque Cathedral and the Ducal Palace Caracciolo. Outside the walls, in the Macchia Rossa locality, you can refresh yourself at the Bosco di Sant’Antonio and appreciate the beautiful Fontana Ulizzo in gray stone, which sprouts water from five lion heads. Finish the itinerary in Pietramontecorvino, one of the most beautiful villages in Puglia. If you explore the Terra Vecchia, the historic center, with its staircases and winding alleys reminiscent of the original medieval appearance, you’ll notice many houses made of tufa, carved directly into the rock.

A silvery crown of olive trees guides tourists through Gargano. These cultivations, now considered heroic as they often thrive on steep slopes, are believed to be the first olive groves in the Foggia region. Fratepietro, in his work ‘L’olivo in Capitanata’ from 1932, reconstructs the path of olive expansion that began many centuries ago in areas—now favored by national and international tourism—including Rignano Garganico, Vieste, Ischitella, the city of Santo Pio, also known as San Giovanni Rotondo, and the UNESCO site Monte Sant’Angelo. From Gargano, the olive gradually spread first to some municipalities of the Subappenino Dauno and then to the plains. The major expansion occurred in the 17th century, with already several thousand hectares, almost all in specialized crops, Fratepietro continues. ‘The trade of products, especially by sea, was very intense. By the end of the 18th century and throughout the 19th century, olive cultivation rapidly spread to various areas of Daunia. Every dish in Foggia’s cuisine is characterized by extra virgin olive oil of the highest quality.

In Puglia, there is the quintessential town of love: Vico del Gargano, whose patron saint is San Valentino. In mid-February, it is celebrated with a grand religious and folk festival, adorned with citrus decorations that embellish the main church and the charming medieval alleys, featuring processions, fireworks, and tastings of typical dishes.

Yet, in the ancient village, Vico del Gargano also houses the Trappeto Maratea Museum, located in a 14th-century olive mill. Visiting this municipal museum means immersing oneself in the local culture, which had its foundations in olive groves, olives, and oil, along with the wheat of Foggia (still considered the granary of Italy today) and hard wheat bread. This is crucial to understanding the local culture, which found in olive cultivation, and thus in the environment of the oil mill (trappeto), one of the cornerstones of its sustenance.

The oil mill has preserved and displays two areas for visitors. In one, there are vertical wooden presses for olive pressing, the ancient millstone, and other tools used for oil production and fieldwork. In the other, the oil tank, warehouse, and stable have been preserved: the machines were powered by the strength of animals, usually a donkey. There is also the monastic kitchen that prepared humble meals for those who lived and worked in the mill.