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The suggestive Abbey of Santa Maria di Calena situated not so far from Peschici and the sea is one of the most ancient in Italy. Erected in 872 a.d., this Abbey was at the beginnig a Benedictine convent,
and for many years the main center very rich and and independent.
To confirm the fact many documents mention the existence of the Church and this monastery already before XI century.
In a document in particular, it is declared the donation of this church to the monastery of S. Maria di Tremiti.
At the time the union of these two abbeys gave life to a single powerful and influential hub on all the Gargano aerea.
The Abbey of Calena was also coveted on the other great Abbey of the zone, that of Montecassino.
It nevertheless maintained its authority and its prestige, and remained active and flourishing until the beginning of 1300.19 th century till today is a private property, and has become a rustic estate. In the southern part this monastery can still admire two splendid churches: one is the oldest, and close to it rises the most recent. The latter one has a nave and a semicircular apse, and its roof went unfortunately destroyed during the Second World War's bombing. Both churches however are analogically and artistically interesting: majestic walls surrounding this ex-monaster are decorated by counters and gates.
An ancient legend said that in the Abbey is hidden a treasure, buried somewhere with the body of Barbarossa's daughter. It also seems this Abbey was a time connected to the sea through a secret passage, haunted now by obscure presences. This passage could be existed, and would have allowed the friars, in the case of danger, to escape by the sea and reach the Abbey of Tremiti Islands. Today following a convention concluded between the Municipality and the Abbey of Catena's owners has started a procedure to allow the restoration of the two churches to return their ancient splendour as fast as it is possible.
Gargano National Park
On the SS 89 - Peschici (FG)