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Vallisa Church

Church of the Ravellesi

Strada Vallisa - 0 - 70122
In relation to the activities of the Diocesan Auditorium Vallisa
Beginning of construction XI century
Current use A multi-functional arts and culture venue
The church of Vallisa (previously Raveddise, “of the Ravellesi”) was named on account of the presence of groups of merchants from Amalfi and Ravello in the city. Today the building looks very different from its past appearance due to its “stylistic” restoration carried out between 1957 and 1962, which eliminated all of the Baroque embellishments, leaving exposed walls. However, this medieval remodelling did not restore the church its original appearance, which would have been largely frescoed, as can be seen from the few remaining decorative elements preserved on parts of the walls.
Nevertheless, it remains an important medieval monument within the old town, built in honour of a community which first appeared in Bari in the 9th century and remained on good terms with the local population both from a religious and commercial point of view. The Amalfi and Bari populations established similar commercial communities, probably even sharing their fleets. Evidence of this close mercantile relationship can be found in the well-known Crisobolla agreement, granted by Emperor Basil II with regard to the Venetians, which explicitly forbade them from loading their ships with “goods deriving from the Amalfitans or Longobards from the city of Bari”. From a religious viewpoint, interesting similarities were also evident in their respective patron saints. Worship of San Nicola, for example, was also widespread in Amalfi. Likewise, Bari had a number of churches dedicated to St Andrew by the Sea as well as the monastery of Sant’Andrea delle Vergini outside the city walls, which venerated the patron saint of Amalfi. The church of Vallisa reacquired a measure of unexpected fame after the restoration of the paving in Piazza Ferrarese, with its three semi-circular apses overlook. The main entrance with its triple arched colonnade, on the other hand, is in Strada Vallisa. Today the church has been deconsecrated and hosts the Diocesan Auditorium, a multi-functional arts and culture venue.
Beginning of construction XI century
Consecration XI century
The construction of the church dates back to the 11th century. The old name of the church was St Peter’s, derived from the Benedictine monastery adjacent to it and in honour of the city of Rome. This detail is also included in the testament of Abbott Leucio in 1071. However, the first reference to the church as “San Pietro della Vallisa” only appears in a 1596 document issued by the Bari Diplomatic Office. The fact that the Ravellesi had been awarded a tender to collect excise duties on goods imported into the city explains their settling by the ancient New Port, one of the oldest and most important in the city. In 1777, the church was dedicated to the Blessed Mary Virgin of Purification, probably as a derivation of the name of the confraternity founded there or because of its proximity to a street (Via degli Infetti) where the property of plague victims was burnt. In 1962, after decades of neglect, the church underwent a radical restoration in Neo-Romanesque style carried out by the architect Schettini, who eliminated centuries of layers in different styles (in particular the Baroque superstructure) and rebuilt the portico, the façade and the three apses. The area was then fully modernised in 1986, the year in which the confraternity of Sant’Anna, co-ordinated by the Diocesan Commission for Sacred Music, helped transform it into an important cultural and artistic centre for use by the local community.

The church, based on a basilica layout, is divided into three naves ending in semi-circular apses. These are covered by chiancarelle limestone slabs and feature three single-lancet windows, the central of which is the largest. This window is set below and aligned with a small oculus, which opens up under the salient angles of the central nave roof.

The entrance overlooks a narrow street which takes its name from the church. The gated, three-bay, cross-vaulted portico leads to a large entrance and two smaller entrances in correspondence with the central and minor side naves. The portico contains two arcosolium tombs with the relics of frescoes. A rose window is set high up within the pinnacle of the façade. A door at the centre of the left nave leads to a narrow, uncovered corridor, in which there are five pinnacled 14th century arcosoliums.

Until a few years ago, the statues of the Mysteries of the Passion were kept within the church, along with sacred paintings of Santa Rita, San Gaetano and the Madonna. Historical documents refer to the 18th century origins of the Mystery statues. At that time, a Good Friday tradition was to hold two processions (one from the church of San Gregorio and another from Vallisa) with the statues representing moments (or stations of the cross) from the Passion of Christ. It appears that the older of these processions was that in which the Franciscan friars of the Purification Confraternity (that of the Vallisa) took part. The Pia “Mysteries of the Vallisa” Association is now located in the church of Santa Teresa dei Maschi, while the statues are preserved in the church of Gesù. The other procession, that of San Gregorio, was organised by the Order of Friars Minor of San Pietro delle Fosse, whose church (now a ruin) was located near the port.
Until 1825, the two processions took place on the same day, leading to frequent moments of discord and chaos. In order to put an end to these disagreements, Archbishop B. Clary decreed that the processions should be held on alternate years. Thus, even years saw the procession of the Vallisa statues (known as the "Chiangeminne", in reference to the rain which fell when the procession began). This tradition continues to this day. However, in odd years the task fell to the San Gregorio group, known popularly as the "Ventalosi", as the procession was often accompanied by strong gusts of wind.

How do I reach downtown?
airport Airport  

From Viale Enzo Ferrari, continue in the direction of Strada Provinciale 204 / Viale Gabriele d'Annunzio / SP204.
Take Viale Europa, SS16, Via Napoli and Corso Vittorio Veneto in the direction of Piazza Mercantile in Bari.
Continue along Lungomare Augusto Imperatore. Piazza Ferrarese is on the right.
Walk towards Piazza Mercantile

motorway Toll road  

From the toll booth at Bari Sud of the Autostrada A14,
Take E843, Viale Giuseppe Tatarella, the underpass Sottopassaggio Giuseppe Filippo, Via Brigata Regina
Continue along Lungomare Augusto Imperatore in the direction of Piazza Mercantile in Bari.
Piazza Ferrarese is on the right.
Walk towards Piazza Mercantile

other Public Transport  

AMTAB bus lines #2, #4, #10, #12, #12/, #21, and #35 stop near Piazza Ferrarese (continue on foot to Piazza Mercantile)

park Parking lots  

Lungomare Imperatore Augusto-Corso Vittorio Emanuele

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