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Old Town of Merinum

FEAST OF SANTA MARIA ... Yesterday, and today still the festivities continue, the festival dedicated to Santa Maria di Merino was held in Vieste; patron saint of the Apulian city, together with St. George (April 23rd) and St. Anthony of Padua (June 13th).
Santa Maria is an ancient wooden statue of the Virgin Mary that tradition is told to be found on the beach of the Viestan fraction of Merino (or Scialmarino beach) by some fishermen, intent on a fishing trip. Being the town of Merino, exactly halfway between Vieste and Peschici, each of the two groups claimed it for themselves and an old sage advised them to put the statue on a cart drawn by oxen, depending on the direction taken by the cart there would be gone the statue. So they did and the oxen walked towards Vieste, the Vieste fishermen took possession of it and from that day Santa Maria di Merino will be considered the protector of the Vieste people. In that place (about 7 km from Vieste) was then built our Sanctuary of Santa Maria di Merino , a still existing church whose oldest nucleus dates back to the eleventh century - XII disappeared following a tidal wave. This episode is also linked to an episode of Pope Celestine V, who would have found refuge here before being recognized. The small white church, with an enormous symbolic value for the faithful Viestani, is a fine example of a rupestrian church in Puglia, a typical Mediterranean rural artifact, similar to the farms of the past
Later, when the population moved in large numbers to Vieste, also the statue of Mary was brought inside the city, in the Cathedral of the Assumption. There is no news of the statue, it is very likely that it was part of a cargo that was sent from Byzantium to Venice. The statue is still existing, has resisted looting, earthquakes and fires, and is kept in the Cathedral of Vieste.
The place of the sanctuary would coincide with the site of the ancient city of Merinum. The excavations begun in 1938 have never been concluded and what had been discovered the peasants of the time have reburied it, but the remains of a Roman villa still visible today confirm the presence of human settlements of the early Christian era. The assumption of the existence of a real "city of Merinum" is to be attributed to a controversial quotation of the work 'Naturalis Historia' by Pliny the Elder, which refers to the Merinate people of the Gargano "Merinates ex Gargano", from the city of Merinum. The hypotheses on the disappearance of the mysterious city followed one another, perhaps it was submerged by a flood, or destroyed by an earthquake, or put to fire and iron by the usual Saracens, or simply abandoned.
The mystery of the city was partially illuminated in 1954, when the ruins of the Roman Villa (Merino) and those of an agricultural farm (Fioravanti) dating back to the Roman Agustean period, were certainly built with the Roman laws "Sempronia" "And" Julia "belonging to the half of the first century BC and that of III sec. AD There emerged olle and capacious vases, a sign of the already then abundant production of the good olive oil of Puglia; an ambitious hydraulic system made of tunnels, tanks, lunettes, runoff channels, wells, was offered to the admiration of the experts. In the villa a well-preserved mosaic appeared, well preserved, with a rural scene: a little horse that was born, figures of women, a swan. However, the incompetence, the vandals and the thieves destroyed much of what time had returned .... And of the ancient Villa there are only a few walls and the white church
In any case, the remains of the villa and the nearby Necropoli della Salata (the most important cemetery complex of the Gargano that the archaeologists have defined as the most majestic and suggestive of its kind, the entire Mediterranean basin. Christianity on the Gargano and Vieste, also remarkable for its geological, botanical and faunistic features) are important evidences of settlements in the area in pre-Christian times.
The patronal feast is celebrated on May 9th: on that day a procession of believers is formed, carrying shoulder along fields, beaches and sheep tracks, the venerated image in procession to the ancient sanctuary, the place of discovery, and then returning home in late evening, and with lights, torches and fireworks accompany the Holy Virgin Mary in the cathedral .... Yesterday was a wonderful day, full of faith, sun and history .... Hello Maria…


It is a good opportunity then to remember all the films shot in the Gargano in recent years, not only the TV series 'This is my country', directed by Michele Soavi, with Violante Placido shot almost entirely in Vico del Gargano and Foresta Umbra this year, but also the latest episodes of 'Braccialetti Rossi', shot mainly at the Tremiti Islands, already protagonists, together with Monte Sant'Angelo, of "Un mondo nuovo", the new TV movie produced by Palomar for Rai Fiction, dedicated to the figure of Altiero Spinelli, one of the founding fathers of the United Europe. 'Il Generale di Briganti', a two-part miniseries dedicated to the story of the brigand Carmine Crocco, was instead shot in 2012 between the city of Vieste and the enchanting Foresta Umbra.

We thank the Entertainment Weekly for giving us this new image of the Gargano ... not only blue as the sea, white as the cliffs and green as the Park ... but golden and surreal ... Beautiful, right? What to say ... I get dressed by Wonder Woman, I go under the Pizzomunno and I take a selfie!
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