Online comments and professional guide books give Foggia short shrift. Some, in fact, are very negative and even hostile about Foggia. It is not a place anyone says should be at the top of a traveler's list of "must see" destinations. We won't either.
But...for all kinds of reasons, we strongly recommend you visit the Puglia Region, and if you do, then a visit to the city of Foggia is by no means a waste of time. It does have an interesting history, there are a few buildings and monuments, and you can do some of the shopping you will not be able to do in the smaller, more charming places in the surrounding area.
So...some information about Foggia, which sits in the Capitanata Plain between the Cervaro and Celone Rivers and is the long time capital of the Foggia Province in the northern reaches of Puglia Region. The agricultural area around Foggia -also known as the Tavoliere - is largely devoted to wheat production and is known as the "granary of Italy". The city of Foggia, on its flat, uninspiring surfaces, serves this industry and the many industries that are related to it. The city's name is derived from the Latin word "foveas" or "pits" - because in bygone days it was customary to store grain in huge holes dug into Foggia's piazzas.
The principal settlement in the area was actually north of present day Foggia at a place called Arpi. But, Robert Guiscard, first ruler of the Kindgom of Sicily which was ruled from Palermo but included all of southern Italy from Naples to Puglia to Sicily, built the cathedral in the Romanesque style - the Madonna dei Sette Veli - in 1072. Foggia grew up around the cathedral and Arpi ceased to have any importance.
Guiscard's descendant, Frederick II, the King of Sicily and Holy Roman Emperor during the 13th century, is said to have liked the city which afforded him opportunities to hunt in the nearby forests.
In the course of time, from the early days of the Normans until the 2nd World War, Foggia has been sacked and burned to the ground (by the Angevins in 1268), shaken by a devastating earthquake (1731) and subjected to furious aerial bombing (WW2). Alas, a lot of the ancient and old architecture, artworks and monuments that give other Italian cities their evocative charm was simply destroyed. The cathedral and castle are among the main buildings that have been subject to ongoing rebuilding, restoration and remodeling.
The civic museum on Piazza Nigri contains displays of a wide-array of archeological, cultural and folk artifacts from centuries past, as well as a collection of modern art. There are, of course, a variety of shops, restaurants and hotels...none of them remarkable perhaps, but serviceable nonetheless.
So, Foggia is not a tourist center: it is a busy, modern, purposeful city of the plain that makes no effort to be anything other than what it is - and that is what distinguishes it from other, prettier places whose principal purpose is ...well, to attract tourists. This honest, if pedestrian city, is almost a breath of fresh air.
Added by Vian Andrews on August 10, 2006