VICO DEL GARGANO AND ITS HISTORY
Vico del Gargano is located in a strategic position on the hills of Gargano just a few kilometres from the sea and the Foresta Umbra. In this amazing country the time has stood still and walking through the picturesque streets, the arches and the wonders of the old town, one gets the impression of going back in time. History, religion, nature and art are the ingredients that contribute to the beauty of this town.
It is worth mentioning that Vico del Gargano has the best springs of Gargano, reason that prompted the prehistoric men to choose this land for their living sites.
Finally we note the Necropolis of Vico del Gargano, Mount Tabor, the place that the inhabitants of Vico, at different times, have chosen as their final resting place on earth.
The origin of Vico oscillates between history and legend; according to some sources it should be the ancient Gargano founded by Diomede, certainly the first settlements date back to the pre-Romanesque (V-IV sec.BC). Vico was born "officially" in '970 when the leader of the Slavs mercenaries who had settled in the country driving out, on behalf of the Byzantines, the Saracens from Gargano, gets to stay in the liberated lands and to become the owner. It brings together the scattered people within temporary walls, giving rise to the primitive "Civitas" which will be called Vicus and then Vico.
In sec. XI the Normans conquered the Gargano and build in Vico a first fort, a castle that will be subsequently extended from Emperor Frederick II of Swabia in 1240.
In 1386 S. Vincenzo Ferreri, perhaps called to settle the disputes on the allocation of the feud of Vico, established the oldest recorded brotherhood of Vico, the "Confraternita di Santa Maria dello Spedale" by the anonymous sanctuary outside the walls . Since then, the tradition of fraternities has grown and has come down to us, according to a ritual handed down from father to son.
In 1495 Ferdinand II of Aragon donated the fief of Vico to Galeazzo Caracciolo, a Neapolitan nobleman, as a reward for the victory over the Turks in Otranto. Some years later his grandson, Galeazzo II, embraces the Protestant faith, becomes in Geneva the right arm and follower of Calvin and consequently loses titles and goods that pass to children not before they have made major donations to the church and built to expiation the current Capuchin Monastery, where lavish artwork by the best artists of the time can be found: a beautiful painting of the Madonna attributed to Girolamo Santafede, a large altarpiece with six compartments signed by Andrea Vaccaro of '600, a majestic wooden Crucifix of the sixteenth century and a fresco in the cloister of the seventeenth century depicting St. Michael the Archangel.
In the '600 the Lordship goes to the Spinelli family; It is at this time that we have the arrival of a large Illyrian colony in Vico, consisting mostly of merchant-craftsmen dedicated to weaving and trade of cloth.
The community founded the second quarter of Vico, "Il Casale".
In 1792, it built the Monumental Cemetery of St. Peter on Mount Tabor, the third in Italy outside the city walls, anticipating the Napoleonic edict of Saint Cloud in 1806.
Today the town is a centre for culture and tourism, relying on a central position in the Gargano National Park.
Founded by legendary Leader Schiavone Sueripolo in 970 AD, it met various rulers over the centuries.
Frederick II laid the foundations of the castle that still stands in the old district. Swabians succeeded the Aragonese.
During the feudal period Vico was the territory of the most important Neapolitan families, including the Caracciolo and Spinelli.
The period of the Enlightenment brought a cultural renewal that culminated in the founding of the famous Academy of Excited, the birth of Michelangelo Manicone, the raising of the Tree of Liberty and the construction of the monumental cemetery of St. Peter outside the city walls (the first in Europe).
The old town of Vico is perhaps the only one, among all those in Gargano, preserving the original urban and architectural structures. Its configuration is the expression of an agricultural-rural civilisation, which has characterised almost any city in the Gargano.
Symbol of the medieval civilisation is the Castle, built in the fourteenth century. All that is left of it is a cylindrical tower and some rooms with arched vaults. All around there are downtown housing distributed in a chequerboard style, surrounded by a wall, characterised by 22 circular and square towers. All this, though with various periods alterations, remained intact in the fundamental structures.