There is important historical data relating to Peschici confirming the relationship between the Slavs and Peschici; in fact the slave colonies of Peschici and “Vico del Gargano”, erected by Slav soldiers sent by Emperor Otto I of Saxony to defend the Gargano from the Saracens go back to the tenth century.
Despite the medieval origin, Peschici and its surroundings are of great archaeological interest and the “Museum of the Flintstone” in Peschici contains various stone artefacts discovered in the “Sberna Valley", south of the town.
Indeed, on the Gargano promontory the most ancient stone complexes attributable to an archaic phase of the Lower Palaeolithic era are concentrated. The artefacts found in the “Umbra Forest” (near Peschici) are documented in the local “Museum of the Umbra Forest” and date back more than 32,000 years.
Medieval origins for Peschici
However, the current city's origins date back to the Medieval Ages, when the Roman Emperor Otto I, after having released the headland from the Saracens, built the two colonies of Peschici and Vico. In the second half of the 11th century the Saracens were finally expelled from the Gargano by the Normans, and built a castle at the highest point of Peschici.
Frederick II of Swabia later reinforced it with the walls and a tower, called the Bridge or "Rocca Imperiale", that was to become in turn a Swabian, Angevin, Aragonese and finally a Spanish stronghold. Originally Peschici was entirely surrounded by walls, and equipped with three entrances, the gate of the Bridge, Gate of the Castle and Low Gate.
From the late Middle Ages Peschici followed the fortunes of the Kingdom of Naples until the Unification of Italy in 1861. Currently it is a rich and important tourist centre.
Origins of the name Peschici
The geographical position of Peschici, and especially the high cliff overlooking the sea, have suggested an etymology connected with the nature of the place where the city was born. Indeed, D. Altamura wrote:
"[...] There is a small country, which is among the rocks and cliffs, sunny, the name of which we do not know if it comes from "fish" or "peaches" or, as is more likely, from the 'overhanging rock’ " .
According to some recent and accredited studies, it is possible, however, that there is a Slavic origin to the name. According to some studies by the Institute of Linguistics, Bucharest, J. Jernej supported the hypothesis that:
"[...] some names on the Adriatic coast can have a Slavic origin (...) Lesina, from the Slavic ‘lesbno’ (" wood") and Peschici, from the name of the country ‘Peschitz’, in Bohemia, having as a basis the Serbo Croatian ‘Pijesak’, ‘ sand’. According to J. Jernej, Peschici language itself seemed to confirm this hazardous hypothesis [...]" .
This is possible, because J. Jernej’s studies were confirmed by other investigations, which re-affirm that Peschici can actually have a relationship with Bohemia, and:
“[...] the Serbo Croatian 'Pijesak' ('sand'), as with other slang terms in the same area, could be Slavic origin, as with 'ciurcia', 'child', reminiscent of the Serbo Croatian 'Curica' [...]” .
Peschici that means "sand" is also in agreement with the great linguist G. Rohlfs .
We should also mention the fact that Peschici is famous for having the finest sand of all the Italian coasts, making it almost certain that the name "Peschici" recalls this particular aspect of the place, or the "sand".
See the Peschici travel guide for more information.
1. See D. Altamura, “Scripta Latina”, Edipuglia , 2004, p. 122
2. See " Studies in Linguistics”, "Linguistics Institute of Bucharest”, 1958, Vol. 3: 410
3. See" The Western and Southern Slavs in early Middle Ages ", “ Centre for Italian Studies about the early Middle Ages " 1983: 948
4. See "Linguistica", 2003: 192 and notes 17 and 18