The route starts from Troia, the Holy capital of this part of Puglia, which was strongly influenced by the passage of the pilgrims along the Via Francigena since the Middle Ages. From here you can admire the cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, built between the 11th and 12th centuries in Romanesque Puglian style, and you will be enchanted by its famous rose window. In the Troia Cathedral Museum of Treasure, set up in the former Episcopal seminary, there are three Exultets which date from the eleventh to the twelfth century. They are parchment scrolls that were rolled out during the Easter Vigil, and whose name comes from the Latin word for Easter prayer, ‘exultet’. They are a total of 11 metres long, illuminated and with the text of praeconium paschale, the proclamation of Easter. You can also visit the Diocesan Museum, with bronze sculptures, paintings of the 17th and 18th centuries and marble that belonged to the cathedral. The Church of San Basilio Magno, which is probably of early Christian origin, is one of the oldest churches in the Monti Dauni, formerly mentioned in a parchment of 1087.
From Troia head to Faeto where you can visit the Renaissance Church of San Salvatore, the beautiful ruins of the church of San Vito (12th century) and the Church of Santa Caterina di Celle where on 8 August every year women parade in procession with their heads surrounded by crowns of leaves. In Orsara di Puglia visit the Cave of San Michele, a place of worship since the 8th century AD, the Church of the Annunziata in the Romanesque style of the 11th century and the Church of San Pellegrino, reconstructed in the past century.
Following the Valley of the Cervaro, you will arrive at Bovino, with its splendid Romanesque cathedral, which is simple, majestic and rich in Byzantine elements. Still in Bovino, you must not miss the Diocesan Museum housed in the Palazzo Ducale. The pieces kept inside include a silver reliquary of the Holy Thorn (16th century) with an embedded crystal that contains one of the Holy Crown of Thorns; a precious reliquary in the shape of an arm of San Marco from the 15th century by Pietro Vannini; a monstrance from the 15th century, also by Pietro Vannini; a processional cross of the 16th century; a copper crucifix from the 14th and 15th century and an episcopal cross from the 17th century.
Leave this village and head to Deliceto where, nestled in the woods, you will find the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation. It is likely that Sant’Alfonso Maria De Liguori was inspired here to write the famous Italian song ‘Tu scendi dalle stelle’ (You came down from the stars).
Continuing, in Sant’Agata di Puglia is the church of San Nicola, a Norman building, which houses a rich sacred statuary. Heading towards the Tavoliere, in Ascoli Satriano you can find the beautiful church dedicated to Maria SS. Della Natività with Gothic and Romanesque elements, while inside the frescoes are eighteenth century. To the north, at Biccari, there is the Mother Church of Maria SS. Assunta, which is beautifully neoclassical. The Motta Montecorvino landscape is dominated by the imposing 15th century church of St. John the Baptist. The route of the Sacred cannot ignore all the places linked to Padre Pio, such as the village of San Marco La Catola where he lived when he was very young or Lucera where the beautiful cathedral was built in 1300 on an ancient mosque, in Gothic style with French influences.
Photo credits: @Tiziano La Torre