Gravina in Puglia is a town and comune of the Metropolitan City of Bari, Apulia, southern Italy. The word gravina comes from the Latin grava or from the messapic graba, with the meaning of rock, shaft and erosion of bank river. Other words that share the same root are grava, gravaglione and gravinelle. Alternatively, when the emperor Frederick II went to Gravina, because of the large extension of the lands and for the presence of wheat, he decided to give to it the motto Grana dat et vina., that is to say It offers wheat and wine.. Gravina is the home of the Alta Murgia National Park.
Thanks to its strategic position, Gravina has a very ancient history. Its territory has been inhabited since the Paleolithic, due to the high presence of water and woods. The largest remains date back to the Neolithic. The oldest settlements have been identified in the districts of Botromagno, S.Paolo, Vagnari, S.Stefano and S.Staso. The city has been known with the names Sidis, Sylbion, Sidio, Silvium, Petramagna or Botromagno. An important find of a skeleton belonging to an Asiatic man in the Vagnari necropolis testifies the existence of relations between the town of Gravina and the Far East already in 200 BCE. The town was then colonized by the Greeks during the colonization of Greater Greece, as a polis with the right of a mint of his own. Diodorus notes it as an Apulian town, which was wrested from the Samnites by the Romans during the 3rd Samnite War. It was a town in the interior of Apulia. It is noticed by Strabo as the frontier town of the Peucetii, and its name is noticed by Pliny among the municipal towns of Apulia. The Via Appia, which linked Rome to Brindisi, passed through Gravina. The Itineraries place it from Venusia, on the branch of the Appian Way which led direct to Tarentum. Later it was ruled by Byzantines, Lombards and North African Muslims. The city was the site of a Norman countship in the HautevilleKingdom of Sicily and in the later Kingdom of Naples. A famous count of the former was Gilbert, who was sent by his cousin, the Queen regentMargaret of Navarre to the peninsula to combat the Holy Roman Emperor. In the latter period it was the hereditary fief of John, Duke of Durazzo. The Normans called the town Garagnone or Garaynone. From 1386 to 1816 it was a fief of the Orsini family: the popeBenedict XIII was born here in 1649. Feudal oppression led to numerous riots, in particular from 1789 until the unification of Italy. Gravina in Puglia was partly destroyed by Allied bombings during World War II.
San Sebastiano - Renaissance-style church with a nave and two aisles separated by pilasters. The cloister of the annexed convent has with Romanesque capitals decorated with animal and vegetable figures.
San Michele delle Grotte- 10th-century church carved out from the tuff rocks
It has also a well preserved Roman bridge, dating to at least 1686. Following the earthquake of 1722, the bridge was restored and transformed into an aqueduct by the Orsini family of Rome, who then moved to Gravina around the middle of the 18th century.
Gravina in Puglia is famous for one of the oldest fairs in Europe: the Saint George's Fair has been held each April since 1294. Gravina's cuisine, one of Apulia's most traditional ones, is based on three typical agricultural products found within the surrounding region of Apulia, namely wheat, olive oil and wine. The local cuisine is also enriched by the wide variety of fruit and vegetables produced locally. The city is also known for a particular cheese, named "Pallone di Gravina".