The origin of the name “Vieste”

Between 800 and 600 B.C. Greek colonizers landed on the coasts of the Gargano. The legend of Diomedes, King of Etolia, fugitive from Troy, is a clear example of the Greek influence in this region at that time. The Greeks made Vieste their commercial centre for the extraction of the purple dye from a mollusc known as “caparrone”. This dye was used for the couloring of cloths and skins. The origin of the name Vieste is uncertain even if some identify it with the disappearance of Apeneste. This latter was located by the geographer Ptolemy, between Siponto and the promontory of the Gargano. From the words of Ptolemy, it can be deduced that Apeneste had to refer to Matinum (the modern Mattinata) since Vieste is not situated “between” Siponto and the promontory but at the most easterly point of the same. The most probable hypothesis is that Vieste has Indo-European origins and comes from the name Vibeste, Viveste, and after a series of successive corrections became Vieste. In the IV century, with the coming of monastic orders, the Dauni territories were exposed to Christianity. The monks were in search of secluded places, away from the ways of the world and at the same time, safe from robbers and invaders. The Christian necropolies of Merinum, St. Nicholas at Pantanello, Spagnola, and St. Teclas are clear indications of the Christianization of this area. The necropolis of the Salata is the most suggestive. In it the burial niches are placed in tiers, one on top of the other, carved from the living rock. It is about 40 m. high. Burial places are also found on the ground and in every corner possible.