Giovinazzo is a small town with just over 20,000 inhabitants, situated on the coast 20 km north of Bari. It’s a village which is well worth a visit because in a few area it has art, traditions and a beautiful blue sea that makes this town a favored destination for summer tourism.
Giovinazzo has ancient origin (there are traces of Juvenatium since the fourth century BC) and was, at least for a millennium, primarily a fishing village and still retains interesting witness evidence of its past in the Roman Empire.
If you visit this town you put little time to realize that Giovinazzo is a town where time, in some ways, seems to have stopped a few decades ago. The town appears peaceful, time passes slowly and the favorite pastime of citizens are summer baths and long, sometimes exhausting, “struscio”, a very long stroll in the square that can be perpetuated for hours, especially on warm summer evenings. In the town there are meny aediculae, at the corners of the streets, a sing of a widespread religiosity halfway between faith, tradition and folklore which becomes even a show during the many festivals (patron and otherwise) that are followed throughout the summer.
The town has not a strong tourist vocation and therefore it’s not difficult to find an hotel accommodation, also in B&B, at a very low prices. Infact, tourists are very welcome but also sometimes they are perceived as a bit annoying, almost intrusive, as if the tourist, with his presence, could contaminate the authenticity of their own town. Something is changing, the town is becoming increasingly a destination for tourism, local and not, thanks also to the many movie sets that were set up here and that introduced these streets also for the general public. And we have to remember, again regarding the movies, that Giovinazzo is the place of origin of the famous actor and director John Turturro, American by birth but a real citizen of Giovinazzo.
The visit of the town can only start from Piazza Vittorio Emanuele (photo 1), or simply “The Square” as citizens call it. Very wide, trapezoidal, it is the traditional place of the meeting of the citizens that here walk, meet and chat. Here, people walk following a accurate protocol that provides that kids stroll on the south side of the square (looking at the photo, to the right of the central fountain), while older people on the North side. In this way parents can stroll quiet checking on the square “at a distance” their children and grandchildren. At the center of the square the nice monumental fountain “of the Tritons”, a work of 1933 that seems to replicate the most famous namesake of the Bernini fountain in Rome. To the right, the Church of San Domenico whose interior includes the “San Felice in the Chair”, a valuable painting by the master Lorenzo Lotto, also selected by Vittorio Sgarbi between the works then exposed to “Italian Gallery” Expo 2015.
Starting from the square you will reach in a few steps to the beautiful old town, true pride of the city, which is accessed through the Arch of Trajan (photo 2) supported by stepping columns of the Via Traiana. It’s a real access portal that transports the visitor from the newest area of the city to the historical center made up of streets and alleys, courtyards and churches, plazas and restaurants.
When you passed the Arch of Trajan you can arrive at the nice Piazza Constantinopoli (photo 3) with the homonymous church, unfortunately open only for solemnity.
The historic center is characterized by the presence of courtyards, once dark and inaccessible but now, after a series of important renovations, points of excellence of architectural beauty. They are so many. Among them it marks the one probably most nice, “Vico Freddo”, litteraly “Cold Alley” (photo 4), a hidden jewel in the alleys of the city.
Going along Via Marina, parallel to Piazza Costantinopoli, you can admire the small port (photo 5), place for fishing boats and, more recently, for yachts and small pleasure craft. On the right of the photo, the Aragonese Tower, rounded shape.
From the port you get in a moment the Cathedral (photo 6, here taken from the waterfront). Dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta, the Cathedral is beautiful Romanesque style and dates from the twelfth century. The interior part, remodeled in the mid ‘700, is in Baroque style and betrays a bit the austere Romanesque style that characterizes the exterior. There is also a very nice crypt, open only on special occasions. People call their church “Cathedral” even though the bishop’s seat has long moved to the nearby Molfetta. The official name of the Church, in fact, would be “co-cathedral”. But do not remember it them. There would remain definitely bad ……
The interior of the Cathedral preserves the precious Byzantine icon of Ss. Madonna of Corsignano, the patron of the town, preserved in a silver shrine and that is exposed to citizenship in solemn procession (photo 7) during the patron saint’s day that is celebrated, usually , the first Sunday after middle August.
During the patron saint’s day, which involves all citizens, numerous events take place. Great interest arouses the “Gamberemo”, a kind of sport that grabs puts in competition the various parishes of the town. And then the evocative “historical parade”, which runs through all the streets of the city, with flag bearers and characters in period costumes. And the pretty lights (photo 8), whose beauty and grandeur changes every year in relation to the budget available.
The most relevant part of the town, however, remains probably the sea with whom citizens live in total harmony. A real reference point for the city’s economy that derives from the sea beauty and wellness through tourism and fishing. The sea is clean, the beaches sometimes a little less, although remarkable is the commitment of all to keep them in the best possible conditions. Unsuitable for those without great experience with water, the absence of sandy beaches. A paradise, though, for those who love the reef.
WHERE TO EAT
The best pizza in Giovinazzo, in my opinion, is by “Mattarella”, in Piazza Constantinopoli. Nice room with stone walls, prepares pizzas with excellent leavened doughs and non traditional flour (spelled, kamut, …). Excellent not craft beers. To see my review on TripAdvisor, click here.
A good alternative is “The Gramalò”, in the central Piazza Vittorio Emanuele. To see my review on TripAdvisor, click here.
During the summer you can try “Al Porticciolo”, just across the sea. To see my review on TripAdvisor, click here. Next, another pizzeria, “The Schiribizzo” in its satisfactory. To see my review on TripAdvisor, click here.