Bovino, Puglia is a lovely hilltop village in the province of Foggia. It’s characterized by narrow winding streets and a charming atmosphere. Located in the northern part of the Puglia region it doesn’t always get the love it deserves. Read along to learn more about Bovino, Puglia, and reasons why you should visit it.
The town of Bovino in Puglia is found on the hills of the Daunian Mountains. The mountain range is named after the Dauni tribe which is the same tribe that founded Bovino originally. This beautiful town has a stormy history riddled with rulers and wars yet it managed to stay one of the most beautiful hilltop villages in Italy.
Bovino, Puglia – Overview
Let’s start our journey of Bovino with a little overview of the settlement. We will cover the brief history and the basic info about this town. By the time you’ve finished reading, you will know everything that you need to know before you visit Bovino in Puglia.
The brief history of Bovino
The town that was established by the Dauni tribe was very different than the town of today. In fact, shortly after its foundation, Bovino has taken part in the Samnite Wars which has lead to its destruction by the Romans.
However, the Romans saw the potential of its location. They have decided to rebuild the town. They even gave a new name to the village and called it Vibinum.
Historians believe that during the Carhagninan war Hannibal himself have camped near Bovino. After the period of Roman rule, it was the Lombards that conquered the area and the town itself. Yet once again Bovino was destroyed in the Byzantine wars.
Just like the Romans, the Byzantines decided to rebuild Bovino and the layout that they used is still very much the layout of the town today. The Byzantines’ rebuilding was so successful that Bovino became one of the longest-standing strongholds during the Norman conquest in the region.
It seems that history doesn’t really like this town. It managed to survive wars and conquerors, yet a plague almost wiped it from the maps. Okay, it wasn’t any plague it was the bubonic plague that swept through Europe. Bovino was heavily affected and the population went down to only 1200 residents.
After the hard and unlucky years, the town managed to get to the modern era without any more hardships. Luckily Bovino in Puglia still has its medieval charm with small narrow streets and the castle that overlooks the landscape.
Why visit Bovino, Puglia?
Now that we know the history of the town it’s time to think about the reasons for visiting. First of all, it’s an extremely historic village. From the actual real-world history to the buildings through the streets the atmosphere is just perfect.
Of course, you will mainly find the medieval buildings and atmosphere in the historic center. Bovino, Puglia is a little bit off-the-beaten-path. This means fewer tourists even during the peak season. In the off-season, it can be an extremely romantic and quiet town to stroll around in.
How to get to Bovino?
If you are looking to visit Bovino by public transport then we do have some unfortunate news for you. It’s almost impossible and while not totally it’s a very exhausting process. We don’t recommend putting Bovino in your itinerary if you don’t have a car.
When you rent a car, on the other hand, the town becomes easy to access. It’s a forty minutes’ drive from Foggia that’s mostly spent on a highway. Relaxing cruising towards your destination. What you have to keep in mind is the northern location.
Most Puglia beach resorts are located in the southern parts of the region. For example from Lecce, it’s more than 3 hours of driving if you want to get to Bovino. You can plan a trip with multiple stops but it will still be a lot of driving around.
Things to see in Bovino, Puglia
Now that we know the basics let’s get to the fun stuff. Let’s take a look at all the tourist attractions that you can see in town.
1. Castello di Bovino
Of course, where else you could start your visit in Bovino, Puglia, then at the Castle of Bovino. It’s the most famous here and it’s the one that successfully kept the town from even more destruction.
The castle courtyard is always open for visitors. It’s a Norman-style castle. You can check out the architecture when you visit the inner courtyard.
However, as you turn back and want to leave you will be treated to an impressive view. The castle gates look out onto the town of Bovino and you can take in the sight as you walk out.
2. Historic Center
Stroll around the winding narrow streets of the historic center and enjoy the medieval atmosphere. There are many shops and restaurants where you can meet the locals and see what they are selling.
Scattered around the alleys of the old town there are as many as 800 stone entryways to the homes and houses. All of them were built by local craftsmen and most are very old.
3. Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption
Without question the most famous church in the city. The cathedral stands on Piazza Duomo and it’s a wonderful sight. You will be inspired to take pictures of the old facade. It was built in Romanesque style.
Bar Sport just across the cathedral is an excellent place to grab a cup of coffee. You’ll get nice views that are the church and the surrounding square. Meanwhile, you can relax and take a step back from the busy weekdays.
4. The churches of Bovino
Once you’ve explored the local cathedral don’t forget to check out the other churches hidden in the narrow alleys of the town. As a typical Italian village, there are a lot of churches to discover.
For example, St. Peter’s Church is the oldest one in town. It was built on the grounds of a temple dedicated to non-other than Hercules. Talk about ancient.
Just outside of town is Santuario di Santa Maria di Valleverde. This church is a famous pilgrimage site as the founding stone by a future Pope. Pope John Paul II once becoming Pope has also returned to the church. It’s one of the few modern churches in the area yet it’s one of the most visited.
5. Villa Comunale
The city park. Once you are out of the cobblestone streets, the tiny alleys, and the winding roads it’s time to get back into nature. What would be a better way than heading directly to the local city park?
It’s an extremely nice park with views of Bovino Castle. In the middle of the park, there is a wonderful villa. It’s a great example of local noble villas worthy of many Instagram photos.
6. Bovino, Puglia Festivals
The locals of Bovino have many festivals throughout the year. If you visit during any of these you can also get some extra out of your time in the town.
The main festival takes place on the 29th of August. It’s a festival dedicated to Saint Mary of the Assumption. It’s a big parade where people dress up in medieval and traditional clothing and gather around the cathedral.
Even before the event, the town is an extremely lovely place with smaller exhibitions and things to see all month. August is a great month to pick when visiting Bovino.
Other festivities throughout the year include the 19th of March event in honor of St. Joseph, with its evocative bonfires. Bersagliere trumps fill the air on the 13th of June for the feast of St. Anthony and on the second Sunday of October for the commemoration of St. Celestino Martire.
Don't forget to check out our other guides for Puglia: Top 10 beaches in Puglia Mesagne, Puglia Best things to do in Ostuni Grotta della Poesia - Poetry Cave
Where to eat in Bovino, Puglia?
Did you think we can leave you without some restaurant recommendations? Of course, we can’t! Let’s list some of our favorite places to eat in Bovino.
Osteria ndo saverie lu conte
Our absolute favorite in Bovino. But that doesn’t say a lot, what says a lot is that it’s also the local favorite in the city. Everyone seems to love Osteria ndo saverie lu conte and we can totally understand.
It’s a very local and authentic place. The food is homely. Seriously it’s almost like something your grandma would make at home. Well, if your grandma were Italian.
La Cantina is another excellent place to eat in Bovino, Puglia. Just as the previous pick this one is a local restaurant with an authentic menu.
There are some extras on the menu as well. For example, you can get a hamburger and while it was great we recommend sticking to the Italian courses. You can get a hamburger anywhere after all.
This restaurant is very affordable so it’s a great choice for any holiday. Great affordable food is always a pleasure to come by.
Where to stay in Bovino, Puglia
Since Bovino is quite far from the southern side of Puglia we must give you some hotel recommendations. It’s a great stop when you are exploring the northern part of Puglia and you can spend one or more nights in Bovino.
Castello di Bovino
Wait, so you can stay in the Castle of Bovino? Yes, yes you can. And it’s one of the top places to stay in Bovino, Puglia. The views are awesome and the atmosphere is just special.
Do expect some rough edges on your experience though. It’s an old fortress after all and was not planned around luxury entertainment. You’ll get every amenity you should wish for, but it’s nothing extra.
Bovine bed and breakfast – the village stones
Looking for luxury treatment? Choose Bovine bed and breakfast – the village stones. It’s got everything. Great rooms, superb beds, and amazing bathrooms.
We loved the breakfast as we’ve got a chance to try out some fresh local products. It’s a different experience than your usual intercontinental breakfast.
Once you are tired of sightseeing and hiking in the mountains all day then you can hop into the jacuzzi and enjoy some relaxing time in the water.
Dormire nel Borgo
Our last pick is an affordable yet cute B&B. It’s got nice-looking rooms with murals on the wall. The bathrooms are good and the breakfast was lovely.
Located right in the middle of town this is a good and affordable pick.
Bovino the hidden gem of Puglia
As you can see now Bovino, Puglia is an absolutely lovely place. Even if you visit during the high season of travel, you won’t get as many tourists as another place.
It’s one of those towns where you can experience an old and local atmosphere. We are absolutely in love with the narrow streets and alleyways.
Bovino must absolutely be on your travel itinerary for Puglia.