Sunday, September 26, 2010
A HISTORY OF THE TOWN OF PALO DEL COLLE
The town of Palo del Colle is located about 15 km inland from the city of Bari. It is situated on a hill [hence the name "Pole on the Hill"] 177 meters above sea level and covers 100 square kilometers in area. The population at present is about 20,000.
The Roman author Pliny mentions the Palionenses as being of Greek origin. Coins from Taranto, found in the area, point to an organized civil structure of the Magna Grecia as far back as the 5th and 6th centuries BC. Magna Grecia referrs to the Greek colonies in Italy and Sicily.
An ancient inscription reading Herculea Proles, or descendants of Hercules shows that the Greek colonizers of Palo del Colle honored Hercules as their patron. The original coat-of-arms depicts Hercules ready for the defense of the town. Over time this figure was transformed into a knight in armor on horseback.
The hill on which Palo del Colle sits , dominates a wide ,flat territory. From here a large expanse of land and ocean makes the site ideally situated for military defense. Palo del Colle became the center of the Greek colony because of this position.
According to Pliny, Palo del Colle was classified as a "municipality" by the Romans and was left to administer it's own government because it would have been too difficult to conquer.
The hill on which Palo del Colle is located was considered sacred because Hercules had won a battle there. In Greek Palaion means "victor in the fight". The inhabitants were thus called the Palionnenses. In Latin it transformed to Palium, and into Italian as Palo. Palo could also have stood for palisade or walled fort as interpreted by the Romans. Palo del Colle's excellent defensive position and the courage and wisdom of it's inhabitants has made it an undefeated town. The ancient motto of the town serves as an invitation and also a warning:
"Ercole qui regna,dando al pacifico la pace e la guerra a chi la cerca." "Hercules rules here, providing peace for the peaceful and war to those seeking a fight."