Vieste is a lovely town situated on the tip furher East of Gargano. Golden beaches, crystal clear sea water and limestone brilliant white rock make Vieste a part of the heart of the million people that decide to visit its coasts every year.
The Patron Saint of Vieste is Santa Maria di Merino, whos has celebrated on May 9th with a religious procession that starts from Cathedral to Merino Sanctuary along 7km of a path along coastroad to Peschici and the beach. More suggestive is the evening procession lighted by torches that bring back the statue of the Saint to the Cathedral between songs and preyers.
Vieste has a nice old town, Vieste Vecchia, built on the rock, overlooking the sea. The old town goes to Castle Beach (Spiaggia del Castello or del Pizzomunno) to Marina Piccola and includes Punta San Francesco.
This zone of Vieste is characterized by narrow and irregular alleyways, big steps, terraced house with balconies so close eachothers and typical arches. Here are located the Castle and the Cathedral. At the base of the Cathedral you can discover the so-called Chianca Amara (that means Bitter Stone), a stone where thousands of Viestani’s people were killed by Dragut Rais corsair in 1554.
It will be so beautiful have a walk into the alleyways to San Francesco’s Church overlooking the sea. On the left side of the Church it is possible admire Marina Piccola’s Bay and Sant’Eufemia’s Islet that hosts the Lighthouse. While, on the right side, the endless blue sea will appear in front of you and you can admire an old trabucco.
The Swabian Castle of Vieste
The Swabian Castle of Vieste was built by Federico II in 1242. Located into the old town of Vieste, overlooking the sea, has a triangular shape but, the actual shape is the result of spanish actions between 1535 and 1559, so the remains of the Swabian fortification was completely incorporated.
Currently, it is a militar base and hosts monitoring center of the Air Force. It is allowed the access just for guided tours and exhibitions.
Watchtowers and “Chianca Amara”
Watchtowers characterize the whole Puglia coast from 1500 and stand out on the limestone white rock, overlooking the sea. In Gargano there are many towers on square bases to prevent the pirates and corsairs invasions that came from the sea, in some place where each tower could be seen from the coast and from hinterland.
When a tower caught sight of an enemy ship, it used to warn the other towers lightning on a fire sending an alarm both to the others watchtowers and the people, when its smoke during the day and its light during the night were spotted.
One of the most characteristic is Sfinale Watchtower, rised between 1568 and 1569, that embellishes the awesome Sfinale Bay landscape, just 150 meters far from Camping Village San Michele.
The built of the Watchtowers was consequential to siege of Dragut Rais Carsair in 1554. In July, Dragut Rais, with 70 galleys, begun the siege to the town. People tried to defend themselves, aided by the Castle.
It was 7 days of siege that ended just because there were some traitors that gave the Castle to Dragut for the promise that people could have ran away with all of the silver and gold they would have been able to take it with them. However, on July 15th, when Turkish were inside the town walls, they burned and destroyed the town. People were attacked and robbed and women were raped; citizens were brought on ships to be sold as slaves. All of the others were killed. That day, thousands of Viestani’s people died of beheading on a stone at the base of the Cathedral, clearly still visible and preserved; its name is Chiaca Amara, that means Bitter Stoneto rememberthis tragic event.