A document of 1003, written by Giovanni Diacono, tells of an extraordinary event which occured in the Bari town, during the Saracen siege. One of them, standing on the top of a fortified tower in the S. Benedetto Monastery, saw a bright star falling from the west into port waters. The event was interpreted by Gerolamo Abbot as a divine sign of aid which would come to town from west. Really, a short time later, siege was stopped for arrival of Venice fleet, under the command of Doge Pietro Orseolo II. The chronicle allows some considerations to be made: the Saracen siege indicates the town was surrounded by a circle of walls. Tale confirms Monastery was out but not far from walls. The expression “munitissima turre” induces to think that Monastery was equipped with defence structures. The description could be considered as a photography detail of the urban area at south-east of the town, at second millennium dawn. A recent survey of the benedictin building confirms the above considerations. The cloister, which Giovanni Diacono refers to, was transformed fully in the Baroque age. The ruins of a “quadrifora” pertaing to the original medieval cloister are still visible, together with mosaic fragments ascribable to the medieval church attached to the Monastery. At the present they are located in the near church dedicated to S. Michele. There is a difference in level of about 50 centimetres between the church and the cloister. However they are related strictly each other, because there sussists a difference of level in the street, which is still named “S. Michele descent” in the people language. Present town settlement in the area is very different from that referred to by the old chronicler. Town has enlarged including the Monastery inside new walls, while no trace remains of the older ones. However it is interesting to note that all signs related to the medieval phase of the Bari town do not go beyond the Monastery area, as if a physical limit is indicated before the XV-XVI century expansions. It can be underlined that a very brief ancient chronicle also can supply information about the ancient topography and town settlement. In this context surveys carried out keeping into account documents and historic events related to a quite restricted area, are contributing to further knowledge of developments an transformations of the Bari town in its history, when it was disputed between Latins, Saracens, Byzantines.
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