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The archaic archaeological sites
The Daunians, the Peucetians, the Greeks and the Romans
The ruralisation of the territory, the monastic settlements, the Saracen invasions
The Normans, the Swabians, the Angevins, the Aragonese
The sheep-tracks and the transhumance
Recent history
Modern cities
The Cities of Salpi
The area
Treasures of art and history
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The Cities of Salpi
Before proceeding with our itinerary, it is necessary to give a short historical account of two very ancient urban centres that no longer exist. In the flat heart of Daunia, on the border between the provinces of Foggia and Bari, lay the salt-works of Margherita di Savoia. They are the largest in Europe and were mentioned as early as the 3rd century B.C. Here, thanks to the natural abundance of salt, in the 13th and 17th centuries the Venetians came to take in a fresh supply of salt.

The presence of the brackish lake and the salt-works has created an economic and organisational phenomenon for the territory of such importance as to justify the foundation of entire cities, from antiquity until the middle of the 1800's. The entire history of the surrounding settlements, of the Daunians, of the legendary Greek Salapia and the Roman Salapia, of the farmhouses and of the monastic granges, of Margherita di Savoia, of Trinitapoli, of San Ferdinando and, in part, of Barletta (spontaneous settlements or founded following the land reclamations and the agrarian reforms fed by the spirit of the Enlightenment in the 1700's), revolve around this enormous sheet of water. A large part of the area overlooking the ancient lagoon of Salpi was densely populated during the Neolithic age.

Numerous extraordinary settlements and hypogeous necropolises were recently discovered at San Ferdinando and Trinitapoli with a wealth of ceramic, lithic and metallurgic findings (the famous axes of Salapia). Sites are located in coastal positions just sheltered from the damp areas of the Salines (at Mezzana comunale, Madonna di Loreto, Monte di Salpi, Marandrea and many other localities in the countryside of Trinitapoli) or even in the heart of the Salines themselves, like at Foce Carmosina and at Vasche Napoletane (the numerous circular platforms that characterise the site are extraordinary for the perfection of the geometric layout, probably used for an archaic form of working salt).

The modern salt-works occupy a part of the ancient coastal lake of Salpi, near to which rose the city of Salapia (Salapia Vetus), founded, according to legend, by the Greek hero Diomedes. Later the city declined as a result of the lagoon's becoming swampy from the Carapelle River, until the Republican Age when its inhabitants abandoned it and moved to Roman Salapia. This was located, according to Vitruvio, 4 miles from Salapia Vetus, at Monte di Salpi, also along the shores of the lake, and it had a lake side port joined to the sea.

The original inhabited nucleus, which was originally called Salinis, took on the name of Sancta Maria de Salinis after the spread of Christianity. The site later became a diocese and is remembered in the news up until the 16th century with the name of Saline Cannarum, after Goffredo the Norman donated the hamlet to Ruggiero, bishop of Canne, in 1105. Later, the hamlet passed into the jurisdiction of the Order of the Templars who owned their own branch house in Barletta. After the spread of malaria, the inhabitants moved in part to Barletta and in part to the modern city of Trinitapoli. The ancient hamlet remained unpopulated and fell to ruins. The salt-works were still active, however, and the workers, who lived in nearby Barletta, went there seasonally. Woven into the economic and productive fabric of this city, in the 15th century the Salines took on the name of Salines of Barletta.
Margherita di Savoia - San Ferdinando di Puglia - Trinitapoli  
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