Maybe Frederick II of Swabia tasted the oil and wine of Castel del Monte when he was going down the street towards faithful Andria. If so, together with history nature too gave him another reason to praise these lands. Of Norman mother and German father, the Emperor Frederick II, who actually lived between the many castles of Puglia and the royal palace of Palermo, surrounded himself with Arab, Greek and Jewish scholars in the memory of Latin classicism and under the spell of a European and Italic cultural unity that originated the beautiful Mediterranean diet.
Since the Middle Ages in the beautiful country-sides of Apulia developed the most blooming agricultural alimentary market of the Mediterranean. Dante too exalted the "fortunate lands of Apulia" in his Divine Comedy. Always faithful to the tradition of the best olive oil and wheat production, this region has given Italy the heart of the national pasta and oil production system. The local dishes have been strongly influenced by the presence of Muslims in the second half of the ninth century and by the characteristic dishes of that civilization.
Tradition and history turned the cooking of Apulia into an art capable of blending Christian civilization with the Islamic one that reigned over Apulia until 1071, when the Empire of Constantinople retired under Norman pressure. It is precisely from an Arab term that the dialectal names used to indicate tagliatelle seem to have derived. One can only talk well of the dishes of Apulia: from orecchiette to the dairy produce, to the pizzas with the characteristic cherry tomatoes, to the broad beans, the wines, the strong and spicy dressings echoing the oriental civilization.
The themes of their dances and musical compositions have also oriental origins, like the tarantella (courtship dance performed by couples with the accompaniment of castanets and drums), which has inspired the learned elaborations and variations of Carl Maria Von Weber and Gioacchino Rossini. Bari, Barletta and Trani are places painted in the memory of our people for the glory of the history that they have testified and for the honour of the wines that they have produced.
The richness of the wine produced in Apulia has generated 25 local Doc quality wines like Rosso Barletta, Aleatico di Puglia and Moscato di Trani that strengthen the chromatic taste of the 6 Igt wines (Daunia, Murgia, Puglia, Salento, Tarantino and Valle d'Itria). A simple triumph, seasoned with the 4 extra virgin oils (Collina di Brindisi, Dauno, Terra di Bari and Terra d'Otranto) and emphasized by the strong aroma of its Dop cheeses: Canestrato Pugliese and Caciocavallo Silano.
In conclusion, there is a dilemma, the same that an irreverent Andrea Pazienza (the greatest Italian cartoon writer, born in Foggia) puts into the mouth of John Paul II while he scrutinizes the sky: "... and what if he really exists?". Certainly - we would like to add - he stopped to eat here.