Ancient Boundaries | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

Boundaries are one of the ways of keeping people out of our lives by either adopting a certain behaviors or by building gates, doors, walls and fences in the name of privacy or personal safety. Prisons and dungeons also create boundaries to the outside life.

The Castle of Gioia del Colle, a quaint town in Puglia, South of Italy provides a good example of boundaries with its thick and tall limestone walls. The castle was built, renovated and enlarged in various historic periods. It was born in the ninth century in the Byzantine style mainly to give shelter to the population during enemies’ raids. Later, in the Norman period around 1100, the Dukes of Apulia enlarged the castle and the courtyard raising tall fence walls around the perimeter. During the Swabian period, around 1200, King Frederic II returning from the Fourth Crusade in the Holy Land, regained possession of the castle making it mainly into a military establishment and leaving only a few rooms for his royal family.


There were other land owners occupying the castle later during the course of centuries, but the history of this castle evolved around King Frederick II of Swabia, also surnamed “Stupor Mundi” (Wonder of the World). The throne room spreads over the ground floor with a large fireplace. The boundaries for the family quarters, developed over three floors, were set in the tower at the very top of the castle to protect the royal family from enemy’s attacks. Usually the towers of castles were reserved for prisoners, not for a royal family. Evidently the attacks from enemies were numerous and frequent that the royal family’s safety was top priority. In my photo we can see the stone rafters supporting the wood floors of the family area. Through the years all the floor levels collapsed and were never rebuilt.




The toilet for the family was not a grand space, as one imagines, but it was a tiny room in the tower with a sewage exiting to the outside. Access to the top floors was only through a wooden ladder, a very steep boundary that prevented any intruder to reach the family. On the other side of the throne room one can access the hall of the oven, which served food for banquets. Next to the oven a steep stairs goes down in the prison’s dungeon closed with a heavy iron gate, another boundaries set to negate freedom, this time not to a prisoner but to a lover.

Hall Of Oven
Legend goes that King Frederic II ordered to incarcerate Bianca Lancia in the dungeon, perhaps for jealousy. She was the King’s lover and she was pregnant with his baby. Manfredi was born and inherited the Kingdom of Sicily. Wait, was Manfredi really the son of King Frederic II…?

In the dungeon’s walls there are two balls carved in stone, they appeared to be Bianca Lancia’s breasts….oh, cruel fate reserved to lovers….!!! In the archeological museum in the same boundaries of the castle we learned about the customs of the people who lived there, their lifestyle and love habits.

Kiss Love in the castle

There was talk of love between the guests of my trip, one of them even sang an Opera Aria in the courtyard and a couple practiced their kiss in one of the balconies….well, after all, we were in Italy.

If you are thinking of visiting Puglia click on my Puglia page:


This is my answer to WP Weekly Photo Challenge Boundaries – 

Copyright © 2015 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved
In the carValentina will host one or two trips a year to Italy with the intention of showing Italy with the eyes of a designer born in those parts and let people experience the ”wheel of emotions” they don’t even know exist. She will take her groups to the non-commercial Italy, areas not beaten down by massive tourism. Valentina will guide the tours through art, architecture, fashion, food-wines, shopping and special adventures organized for people who want to live it up! Check out her books on


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