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Puglia

The name Puglia derives from the Latin Apulia in the Roman times, but this region was already inhabited in prehistoric times as evidenced by the fossils of dinosaur footprints and the Man of Altamura (a form of Neanderthal man). Other prehistoric remains are menhirs and dolmens.

From the second millennium BC the region was inhabited by Dauni, Peucetians and Messapians and then it became a colony of Magna Graecia. With the Roman Empire, Puglia had great importance in the business of oil and wheat, due to its location en route to the East. The Appian Way connected Rome to Brindisi.

After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Puglia was invaded by various peoples: among them Lombards who brought stability with the creation of "gastaldi". It later became part of the Byzantine Empire, with Bari as capital and a Byzantine governor called "catapano". Nowadays the local language and architecture still have oriental traces, not to mention the Orthodox chapel in the Basilica of San Nicola.

In the eleventh century the uprising against the Byzantines started; the most famous is the one led by Melo in Bari in 1012 but he will be defeated a few years later. In 1041 the Normans won the Byzantines and William of Hauteville took power. Later Robert Guiscard was recognized by the pope as Duke of Puglia and Calabria.

Since then, the Normans and subsequently the Swabians promoted the economic, political and social development that reached its peak with Frederick II, also famous for the important buildings he built. His son Manfred was defeated by Charles of Anjou in 1266.

A dark period followed with the Anjou, who ruled until 1400, and with subsequent power struggles between French, Aragonese, Venetian and Papal troops. The Challenge (Disfida) of Barletta in 1503 between the Spanish and the French is well known.

The Spanish won and ruled the whole Kingdom of Naples; they built a series of defensive towers and fortified ports and castles along the Apulian coast to curb the continuing siege of the Turks.

In early 1800, thanks to Joachim Murat, the region began its process of modernization with the abolition of feudalism.

As in the rest of the peninsula, Masonry and Carbonari spread until the unification of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861, when Puglia was divided into three provinces: Foggia, Bari and Lecce. Later in 1900 Taranto and Brindisi were added.

Fascism began the drainage of many areas and promoted the development of agriculture, which now joins the tourism in the main economic sectors.

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