Wonder  }  Architecture

Turret of Belmonte or Castrum Belli Montis

A lonely memory, scattered among the hills

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Where is


70024 Gravina in Puglia BA, Italia (360m s.l.m.)


What it is and where it is

Comfortable hiking shoes and a desire for deep contact with the land of Gravina in Puglia often lead one to direct one's steps outside the town. One also passes the archaeological areas, which have so much to tell, and pushes on further, going a few kilometers into the surrounding countryside. And it is here that you catch sight of a hill, right on the edge of the Difesa Grande Forest. On its summit, there are the remains of a ruined structure: the Belmonte Turret.

Why it is special

Today this building dominates the hilly landscape around it, shrouded in a rarefied, dreamlike atmosphere that makes it a place-non-place, timeless, suspended between enchantment and history. Apart from her, the only other signs of human presence are the cultivated fields with their precise shapes made gentler by the undulating hillsides. The air is filled only with the sounds of nature: the wind, the rustling of leaves, the occasional bird. The tower seems foreign to all this, detached, like someone who has lived so long that he is tired, and looks around with veiled eyes.

Not to be missed

There are many images and similarities with which Belmonte's turret can be clothed. It can appear as a hermit seeking his enlightenment. Or a castaway, lost in the green sea that surrounds him. Or a sentinel, still guarding the ancient castrum, now lost for centuries. But I don't want to dwell too long on the list. After all, that is precisely what constitutes part of the turret's charm: a silent witness, let our imagination animate it, give it an identity. Carve out a moment just for you, listen to it, listen to yourself, and you will be able to see it through your soul.

A bit of history

The ruined turret is what remains of a medieval rural settlement that sources record as "Castrum Belli Montis." Heavily damaged by an earthquake in 1456, the settlement saw the final abandonment of the village; attendance at its restored and reopened for worship, however, persisted until the late 18th century.


The name, Belmonte, contrary to popular belief, has nothing to do with the beauty of the place. Instead, it refers to the evidence of the strong enmity between the villagers of this hamlet and those of the surrounding area. Such and such were the disputes and battles, that the place took the toponym of "belli montis" that is, mountain of war, of discord. Indeed, it seems that not even a decree of the king himself, Charles of Anjou, had succeeded in bringing peace between the opposing factions. Could it be this bellicose spirit that kept the turret itself alive in spite of everything?

torretta-di-belmonte-o-castrum-belli-montisPh: Maria Galella (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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Maria Galella

A few kilometers from Gravina in Puglia, the turret is what remains of a medieval rural village; today it dominates the landscape around it, wrapped in a rarefied, dreamlike atmosphere that makes it a timeless place-nonplace suspended between enchantment and history.


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