Dating back to the XI century, the Cathedral stands on one of the highest points in Vieste and is it surrounded by the typical white houses of the medieval hamlet. It is one of the oldest Romanesque churches in Apulia Region and perfectly blends with the Baroque bell tower, built in 1772 after the original tower collapsed. The church is dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Maria Assunta) and houses, among other treasures, the statue of Saint Mary Merino (a beautiful XVI century wooden sculpture); tradition has it that some fishermen found the statue on the beach of Vieste.
Worth seeing is a “sour” stone near Vieste Cathedral, called Chianca Amara, erected in commemoration of women, old people and children slain on July 15, 1554 by the hordes of blood-thirsty Turkish pirate Dragut Rais. To face similar raids and incursions, DEFENCE TOWERS were built along the Gargano Coast in 1566. All have a square base and can still be seen overlooking the crystal clear waters of Vieste.
Vieste Castle, an imposing fortress built by the Swabian dynasty (1240), dominates the medieval hamlet and the whole town of Vieste. Triangular in shape, the castle is perched over white rock overlooking the coast and stands out in strong contrast against surrounding white buildings. The castle was damaged during Venetian raids and during WW1.
sightseeing tours to Vieste must include a visit to the pride of the town, its seashell museum; free entrance, open every day from 9am to 12.30 pm and from 4.30 to 22.30 pm. The museum originates from the passion of its owners for travels and shells. Everything started in 1975 with a simple trade activity dedicated to selling souvenirs and in particular selling shells. Over the years more shells were acquired and collected during many journeys to exotic countries such as The Philippines, Vietnam, etc. Little by little the shell business lead to a search for increasingly more beautiful and rare specimens and so from a few hundred pieces, the collection grew to several thousands. In 1984 the business changed and a first seashell museum was inaugurated in Scialara. In 1995 the museum was moved to its actual location, in via Pola. In the beginning there were 4,600 exhibits. Nowadays the collection counts 12,500 specimens from all over the world, purchased on order or locally from local retailers specialising in shell collecting and carving. The Philippines are the major suppliers of shells, both for local items as well as items exported from other Asian countries. The mother-of-pearl chandeliers inside the museum were made in the Philippines. To add value to their collection, the museum owners have extended the display to include shell and fish fossils.
Via Pola n°8-C.A.P. 71019 – Vieste – Gargano-Tel. 0884707688
Vieste Lighthouse stands on the rocky island of Saint Eufemia, just in front of the town of Vieste. It was built in 1867 and has an interesting brass lantern on top of the tower. At night, it shines over the town of Vieste and can be admired either from the Castle of Vieste or from one of the town beaches. The temple of Sosandra Venus, mentioned by Antique Roman poet Catullus in his poem 36, was discovered in a cave on the island. The legend has it that, after the Deluge, Noah decided to settle down in this part of Gargano together with his wife Vesta. When she died, it is told that he buried her on the rocky island of Saint Eufemia, where the lighthouse now stands. Then Noah decided to recall his wife by building a town in her honour, naming it after his wife Vesta, hence the present name of Vieste.
South of Vieste, as the Castle beach begins, one can see a 25 meter high monolith called “Pizzomunno”, standing guard over the town of Vieste; a legend tells that a young man was changed into stone because of jealous mermaids who opposed his love story with the beautiful Vieste. There are different legends that are often told visitors during lovely summer nights by the old people of Vieste, as they sit outside the typical white houses of the old town of Vieste.