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The legend of the Witches' Arch in old Bari

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An arch officially without a name, but which in old Bari is known as the Arco delle Masciàre


Arch of the Masciàre witches in old BariIn old Bari there are around fifty arches whose names take inspiration from their architectural structure, or pay homage to old Bari traditions and legends.

However, there is an arch in old Bari which is not officially included in the official toponymy but everyone recognizes it as "the Witches' Arch" . According to legend, it seems that this precise arch, with its Gothic appearance, was a meeting place for the so-called "Gatte Masciàre" , that is, women with a certain mastery of seduction, spells and above all the evil eye towards those who offended them or on behalf of of whoever addressed them. So let's take a big leap back in time to understand each other more; What exactly did these women do and why were they nicknamed Gatte Masciàre ?

The story goes that these women, beautiful and fascinating, in the morning tricked men into becoming their wives or lovers (so as to blend in within the Bari community and not arouse suspicion) , and late at night they practiced their spells by gathering right under the 'anonymous arch.

Gatte masciare legends of old BariThe dark aspect of this legend , however, is not limited only to the story itself, but to the ways in which these women acted to put their rites into practice. It is said that these "witches" were capable of transforming themselves into black cats and did so by climbing to the highest point of their home, without clothes, covering themselves with "masciàro oil" and pronouncing some magical phrases; once the ritual was over, the women threw themselves into the void and then landed on all fours and headed towards Corte Cavallerizza , the alley that connects the area of ​​the Cathedral with that of the Castello Svevo of Bari, as well as under the "Arco delle Masciàre" .

For this reason, according to the locals, anyone who unfortunately met the gaze of those black cats during the night had to make the sign of the cross and recite a very specific phrase, so as to defend themselves admirably from any negative influences of sorceresses and witches who, according to this legend, they hid behind the appearance of a feline.

Where is the Witches' Arch located?

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