Molfetta

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Molfetta is a city and comune of the province of Bari in the southern Italian region of Puglia, on the Adriatic coast, at sea-level. It is 25 km (15 mi) WNW of Bari.

It has a well restored old city, and its own dialect.

Contents

History

The earliest local signs of permanent habitation are at the Neolithic site of Pulo, one of the most important such sites in southern Italy. The origins of the city can be traced to a small fishing port; antique graves testify to a fisherman's village in the fourth century BC. The position of the future city offered a valid landing to the commerce of Roman Rubo. The first indication of a toponym on the coast between Turenum (Trani) and Natiolum (Giovinazzo) is in the Itinerarium Provinciarum Antonini Augusti, edited from a third century core. The place denominated Respa was probably a wrong transcript of the toponym Melpha, referring to a small village of fishermen.

The first official document that mentions the city dates to November 925; it documents a civitas denominated Melfi, situated on a peninsula named Sant'Andrea. The city developed under Byzantine dominion, and was later conquered by the Lombards, who included it in the Duchy of Benevento. The city repelled repeated assaults by the Saracens. As an independent seaport, Molfetta traded with other Mediterranean markets, including Venice, Alexandria, Constantinople, Syria, Amalfi and Dubrovnik.

At the beginning of the 11th century the Normans arrived, and the autonomy that the city preserved helped foster its development as both a commercial port with the east, and as port of embarcation for pilgrims heading to the Holy Land. The Crusades permitted the city to assume a wider importance. Among the many pilgrims was Conrad of Bavaria, who was so enamoured of the city that he became venerated as San Corrado, the protecting saint of Molfetta. During the Angevin dominion the city succeeded in remaining autonomous. However, the arrival of the Aragonese kingdom to Southern Italy, spurred turbulent struggles between French, Spanish and Italians. These wars provoked death and destruction in the whole south of Italy: the Sack of Molfetta at the hands of the French, 18-19 July 1529, was an episode that stalled the economic rebirth of the city.

In February 2006, Molfetta hosted International Youth Parliament, an event which took place the previous year in Canterbury.

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