Rignano Garganico is a small town in the province of Foggia, and is the smallest centre of the Gargano Promontory. It is situated on a ridge along the top of a hill, high above the surrounding countryside - which is why Rignano is sometimes called the 'Balcony of Puglia'.
The medieval old town in Rignano Garganico is well-preserved, and you can explore the narrow streets and alleys of the old town. The streets wind in a ring around the two main points of interest: the church to the south and the Castle Palace to the north, with the various rings connected together by the terraced streets.
A particular architectural feature of interest in Rignano Garganico is the portals - the stonework around the houses doorways. These are a frequent feature of the houses in Rignano Garganico and often accompanied by arches and lintels, and add to the charm and historical authenticity of the village.
As you explore you will come across various highlights:
The Church of the Carmine, located near the so-called 'Great Gate', is among the most important sites of interest in Rignano Garganico. The exterior features of the church are simple and massive, with a bell tower with two pillars that support a bell on top of the façade, typical of a simple and rustic country church.
The church has a nave, with the lower part now used as a large hall for meetings, archives and a library. The plaster statue of the “Madonna and Child” has been replaced by a solid walnut statue by Nick Petruccelli (born in 1940, a contemporary painter and sculptor from San Marco in Lamis).
The Baronial Palace with its cylindrical tower is the most important historic monument in Rignano Garganico. Over the centuries the palace has undergone various restorations that have altered its original appearance. The east façade is well preserved and shows a degree of architectural grandeur and artistic refinement.
On the first floor there is a series of balconies that are connected with the tower. The most striking are the balcony of the façade and the portal to the courtyard below. The arms of the Corigliano family are engraved, consisting of a shield divided in half, on top of the frieze that adorns the Baroque balcony: to the left there is a rampant lion, to the right are two animal heads. The portal below is a round arch, adorned with alternating scrolls and surmounted by a massive frieze bearing the arms of the Corigliano.
The tower was built as a defense structure around the year 1000, and was the main bastion of the medieval castle and city walls. The top of the tower was built with protruding stones which were the "brackets" through which the inhabitants could defend themselves against external attacks.
On the north side of the tower there is a niche containing a 17th century stone statue of Saint Michael, patron saint of the Gargano, that was added during the last century.
The walls of Rignano Garganico originally had other towers, as shown by documents from the eighteenth century, but today they are gone.
The Cathedral Church of Santa Maria Assunta, presumed to be of Roman–Gothic origin, is an interesting style, as seen in the arc of the portal. This has a pointed arch in the gothic style and many elements in the Romanesque style (which started in Italy in the second half of the 12th century).
Transformations on the church were carried out in the 16th century as can be seen in the Renaissance style of architecture and by some dates engraved on the stones and placed on the perimeter wall (showing 1538 and 1559). Inside the church are some frescoes by Natale Penati (1884-1955).
You can conclude your tour of the religious buildings in Rignano Garganico with the Church of Purgatory, of medieval origin but now used as a cultural meeting place. Outside, the building presents a façade wall with a portal surmounted by a bas-relief while inside it has a single nave, with the altar surmounted by a niche containing the statue of the Madonna delle Grazie.
Finally, before leaving Rignano Garganico we recommend you try a very local product called Caciocavallo which is considered to be one of the most tasty cheeses of Italy, as well as the Muciska, a very ancient local dish which also has a festival dedicated to it.
You can also see some cave dwellings nearby, a testament to the long history of the region. See also history of Rignano Garganico.
See the Puglia guide for more travel ideas...