THE ORIGIN OF NAME “Ruvo”
According to studies about Peuceti coinage and the most of experts, the name Ruvo coincides with the Greek word Puψ (Rhyps) and the Latin word Rubi.
FROM THE PALEOLITHIC TO IRON AGE
Since the earliest prehistoric times, documents reveal a continuous human presence in Ruvo territory. There were some important findings belonging to the Paleolithic: the lithic artifacts, that were discovered in Ruvo area; some inscribed potsherds (named in this way for its decoration style by Cardium edulis clam shell impression or by the typical decoration with lunettes) and some remains of walled villages which were discovered in the “Cortogiglio” district.
We have the first traces of the real existence of Ruvo in the Bronze Age (2000 BC), when its inhabitants were the Ausoni. Among them, the Morgeti (from which the name Murgia derives) settled in the central plateau of Apulia. The inhabitants of Ruvo probably lived in hut villages. We don’t know exactly where the site of Ruvo was in the Prehistory. It was likely on the road leading from Pulo di Molfetta (Neolithic settlement) to Matera.
There have been important findings in another prehistoric settlement, namely the caves overlooking the torrential riverbed. It’s called “u Vagne” ( this term refers to bathing sheeps before shearing); it’s 15 km far away from Ruvo.
In Apulia, the beginning of the Iron Age was characterized by the Iapigi (from which the word Apulia derives : Iapudia – Apulia – Puglia). They came from Illiria and drove the Morgeti to emigrate in the current Calabria.
Distinctive funeral monuments, called “specchie”, arose in Ruvo and in the Murgia of Bari.
Finally, the earliest urban village of the prehistorical Ruvo probably exists since the 11th – 10th century BC.
In the 8th century BC the Iapigia civilization was made up of three kinds of similar, but different cultures : messapica (current Salento), peuceta (current Land of Bari) and daunia (current Foggia).
In this century a larger group from various regions of Greece also arrived on the coasts of Southern Italy, creating colonial areas. Even if the colonization process turns the Southern Italy in Magna Graecia, Apulia was marginally involved (as a matter of fact, Taranto was the only Greek colony in Apulia). Anyway, Peucetia and Messapic areas were influenced by Greek cultural customs and traditions.
In the Peucetia Age, Rhyps was made up of several built-up areas you can see in different parts of the current city, such as Saint Angel Hill, “La Zeta” area and “Colaianni” , “Baciamano” and “Spaccone” hills. Ruvo became an economically prosperous city thanks to its jewellery shops, ceramic factories and direct trade contacts with Greece; both metal and bronze objects, discovered in tombs, and silver and gold coins prove the economic wellbeing of Ruvo since the 4th century BC.
In the 5th and 4th century there was a considerable increase of painting vase importations from Atene. The imported vases became a model for the local craft shops that developed an high-level ceramic art.
In the Jatta Archaeological National Museum the vase collection is made up of both imported vases and local ceramic products. The famous tomb painting, called Tomba delle Danzatrici (dancers’ tomb), traces back to this time and was discovered in Ruvo in 1833. Nowadays it is preserved in the Archaeological National Museum of Naples.
Magna Graecia ended in the third century BC with the fall of the last colony Taranto in 272 BC and the birth of another great civilization: Rome.
Around the third century BC Ruvo suffered the Roman domination. Romans realized the important strategic location of Ruvo, that was called Rubi ever since. Rubi became a Roman statio along the Traiana way that the poet Orazio travelled from Rome to Brindisi during his journey, as we state in his Satire V ("Inde Rubos fessi pervenimus, utpote longum Carpentes iter, et factum corruptius imbri").
We can find Rubi, as Roman statio, in Antonio Itinerary and in Peutingeriana Tabula. The Roman settlement was developing along the Traiana way creating an hard standing of the major military movements, defense and territorial coordination as well.
The Roman settlement moved in the current Largo Annunziata.
In the first century BC Rubi, partner city of Rome, became Municipium Romanum; later all political structure of the Roman administrative system were created. There are few information on Ruvo and we can find them in the grave epigraphs which were found in the city and now they are preserved in the Jatta Museum, and in a memorial plaque at the base of the Clock Tower in Menotti–Garibaldi Square (memorial plaque to Jordan III).
Therefore, the Roman settlement should be the current historic centre of Ruvo. We can say this thanks to the ruins of a Domus Romana, discovered beneath the current Cathedral and a Roman cistern (called Caves of St. Cletus from popular devotion), discovered beneath the current Purgatory Church.
From 463 AC on, the Roman Empire was in decline and the Barbarian Invasions began.
Ruvo was dominated by the Byzantines, then destroyed by the Goths and later rebuilt and conquered by the Lombards. Finally it was invaded by the Saracens that built a garrison and created an urban district to the northeast of the ancient town, between the Cathedral and the Purgatory Church and nowadays we still refer to it as Marasco Fund (alteration of the term Moresco Fund).
Ruvo was dominated also by Normans, Swabians, Angevins and Aragons. During these dominations the town was destroyed and rebuilt many times.
FROM THE MODERN AGE TO CONTEMPORARY ONE
The Modern Age began in 1509, when the Requenses sold the feud of Ruvo to the Cardinal Oliviero Carafa. Carafa family held it until 1806, when in the southern Italy the feudalism was abolished.
Under the heel of Carafa family, Ruvo was dominated by arrogant barons and feudal lords who damaged above all agriculture, since the peasants were no longer owners of their lands, but tenants of confraternities, churches and holy places.
Between 1500 and 1600, thanks to the ruling class and aristocratic landowners’ socio-cultural level, Ruvo had both a religious and civil construction business, such as buildings which were built in the most strategic parts of the city along the Castle way (the current De Gasperi Street) and around the Cathedral.
As regards the housing scheme, you can see Griffi, Avitaia, Caputi, Rocca (the current Spada) Palaces. At the beginning of the 16th century, along the Cathedral way, some palaces were built, such as Rubini Palace and religious buildings as the Church of Purgatory and the Church of Carmine. In the urban city there were churches as St. Rocco (1503).
Between mid 1500 and early 1600, in addition to Minori Osservanti in Sant’Angelo and Madonna delle Grazie monasteries, new ones were built, such as San Domenico (1560) and Cappuccini (1607) monasteries.
The 16th century was characterized by tragedies; between 1627 and 1628 there were earthquakes and in 1656 there was an inauspicious plague, that reduced the population from 5,816 to 700 inhabitants.
In the early decades of the 17th century the economy of Ruvo was precarious and the city needed a social and cultural renewal.
In the new cultural atmosphere we have to remember some leading figures of the city, as Domeninco Cotugno (1736-1822), a famous medical in Naples, and Giovanni Jatta (1766-1844), a great jurisconsult and co-founder of the homonymous museum.
Even if the domination of Carafa ended, Ruvo was part of the kingdom of Naples that became the Kingdom of Two Sicilies after the Congress of Vienna. It was ruled by the Habsburgs and his king Ferdinand I.
After the Kingdom of Italy proclamation, on the 17th March 1861, the inhabitants of Ruvo took part in the Third War of Independence in 1866, in the storming of Rome in 1870 and in the First World War (1915-1918), when the Italians fought to obtain Trentino and Friuli from the Austrians.
In Bovio Square there is a war memorial with a sad list of 367 people dead in war that attests the contribution of Ruvo in this national fight.
This monument was made up of a broken column and a bronze statue dedicated to the Victory. This statue was fused in the Second World War, in order to obtain the metal used to build weapons.
In 2009 the Victory Statue was rebuilt thanks to the contribution of the inhabitants of Ruvo.