BRIEF INTRODUCTION / HISTORICAL
Founded in the Middle Ages on the ruins of a pre-Roman village of the Peuceti people, Acquaviva gets its name from the groundwater layer which has attracted over the centuries the population of the “Siticulosa Apulia” described by Horace. The underground water, which you can “spy” from the wells of the historic centre, has made this land fertile and still gives the famous Red Onion its typical sweet and fresh taste.
The religious heritage is evident in the charming little churches in every alley of the Old Town, in the celebrations in honour of the Virgin Mary culminating with the traditional launch of the hot-air balloon, and in the Cathedral, with its beautiful rose window and the sumptuous silver altars in the crypt.
In the same square, just opposite the Cathedral, the secular counterpart Palazzo de Mari, a former Norman castle, then home of the Genoese family of bankers De Mari, and Town Hall today.
In Piazza Vittorio Emanuele stands the only stone Cassarmonica in central-southern Italy: it hosts the performances of the town band, founded in 1797, which has won several awards, even in Istanbul and Stockholm. The town also features the most important astronomical observatory in Apulia.
OUTSTANDING FOOD AND WINE:
- Red Onions
- Black Chickpeas
- Primitivo Red Wine
The countryside of Acquaviva is the largest vineyard site in the area of the Controlled Origin Designation (DOC) for the “Primitivo Gioia del Colle”.
The production of this wine started around 1820 as the climate, the soil and the presence of underground water in the area have proven to be well suited for this grape variety; after being partially discontinued, the production was reintroduced by the wineries Chiaromonte and Pulvanera, the latter operating in the area of Gioia del Colle. Today the Primitivo is largely appreciated as a wine of particular elegance and longevity whose balanced content of polyphenols may be helpful for the reduction of cardiac and circulatory disease risk. In recent years a vineyard census has been made in order to create a protected zone for its promotion and safeguard.
The local administration is building a sewage recycling plant, worth 3.6 million euro, which will be managed by the farmers cooperative la Molignana and an eco-museum, Places of Water and Earth, dedicated to the employ of water in food and agriculture in the past. The town council has also set up a committee for De.Co (Local product designation) and is starting a project directed toward distributing uncultivated pieces of land to the unemployed.
The local tourist office Curtomartino is particularly dynamic in the promotion of the area, and the senior citizens centre organizes traditional dance and peasant food cooking workshops.
A newly founded consortium of farmers, “Qualità Tipica Puglia”, has signed a cooperation agreement with the Department of Chemistry of Bari University aimed at safeguarding and promoting traditional food and crops.
With its Red Onion, Black Chickpea and the “sponzale” (the local scallion), Acquaviva is a member of Slow Food through the association “La vera cipolla rossa di Acquaviva” (The genuine red onion of Acquaviva) which is also involved in a research project on biodiversity.
Dolceria Sapone has specialized in processing the local onion (onion jam, sweet and sour onions and so on)
Farmers are trying to reintroduce the cultivation of an old typical variety of cherry, the “Colafemmina”; La Pecheronza has started the production of organic honey; the wineries Chiaromonte and Pulvanera produce a line of organic Primitivo and have revived an old country recipe, the “Nectar”, a fortified wine made with Primitivo, black cherries and almonds.
Such a revival of agriculture has allowed the establishment of the Technical School for Agriculture Rosa Luxemburg where students will learn about farming on lands confiscated from organized crime businesses.
Translated by the students of IISS Colamonico Chiarulli, 4-5 AFM