Egnazia, ancient Gnathia, sits at the important half-way point between the two major cities (even today!) of Bari and Brindisi along the Via Traiana, a "shortcut" on the Appian way. Earliest occupation of the site is pegged at the Late Bronze Age around the 14th Century BC. Egnazia, by the 5th century became a Messapian city, marked by the 7 meter high walls that protected it on the land side you can see as you're walking from the museum to the main Roman site. There are Messapian tombs here as well.
In Roman times the city was an important commercial center, thanks to its location and the popularity of the "new" road.
Gnathia was also known for its pottery production in the third and fourth centuries BC, and a couple of circular kilns are found on the site (see our pictures below). By the third century the region fell to Roman domination, and you'll find shrines, an amphitheater, a forum, shops houses, workshops and an underground area for grain storage called the criptoporticus. See more in our photo gallery below. Most of the above-ground stones from the site were reused in the Medieval period, so what you have left is like a little mosaic of houses, buildings and piazzas, but it's an interesting place to go for a couple of hours. There is a very nice museum on site.
Egnazia is on the coast in a very nice area in which to vacation, especially in spring when the wildflowers are out (the picture below was taken in the third week of April). There is a renowned golf course very close.
The ruins of Egnazia are visible in the center of the map.
An alternative to the Via Appia was built by Emperor Trajan in 109 AD. The new coastal road was a shorter journey between Benevento and Brindisi. It wasn't actually much shorter in distance, but the geography is mainly flat once the road makes it into Puglia and it was much easier going (and faster). You can see the Via Traiana as the big, white line running through the archaeological site paralleling the modern road on the map. See a map of the Via Traiana and visitor guide, or try our Puglia Guide for the bigger picture.
The ticket office is in the museum southwest of the main site. Visitor information is found on the official site: Egnazia. At the time of writing, a ticket to the museum and archaeological park was a mere 3 euro.
Egnazia is located on a fine stretch of beach with a golf course, San Domenico Golf, an 18 hole course bordering the Adriatic just north of the town of Savelletri, where there are plenty of places to stay, or you can peruse our particular suggestions below.