The octagon of Castel del Monte is not the only geometric figure in this soft and various territory. Right in the middle of the fertile countryside of the pre-Murgian step, not far from the Federician castle, and indicated by a swarm of industrial buildings that delimit an area of particular productive vitality, is another interesting story of “geometry.” In how many geometric forms is Corato inscribed? The question, which seems strange, is actually rather pertinent. A curious web of legends related to its name refer to two geometric figures: quadratum, for the square shape of the first Norman fortification, or perhaps cor, for the heart shape that the city later took on after the expansion of its walls – the heart that is also in Corato's civic coat of arms, with the inscription cor sine labe doli, chosen by Corradino of Swabia). In addition, the “softened” square of the so-called Stradone (Large Road), the first civic ring road. All of this is next inscribed in the larger decagon formed by the outer walls planned in the 1800's by Rosalba, which definitively included the numerous convents and extra moenia buildings in the city . . .
The idea of a closed city comes to mind after seeing so many peripheries. But, upon looking at a map of Corato, or better, entering into the city fabric, it is easy to see the capillary cuts: reticular in the centre, according to medieval practice, and radial towards the outskirts, almost as if to represent the concept of osmosis, of continual exchange between an “inside” and an “outside.” An exchange that is wanted, regulated, planned. Corato's history is analogous to the history of the other cities of this territory: the Normans, the Swabians, the Angevins and the Aragonese. And yet, from a certain point on, its history changed. In 1512, its citizens bought back the feud from Lucrezia Borgia, wife of Alfonso d'Aragona. And then, at the end of the 1700's, in an operation that definitively marked the urban character of Corato: the creation of the Stradone, which is, perhaps, the true spirit of this geometric city. While in other cities the ancient moat became, basically, an area for constructing buildings for noblemen (affordable land and revenue), in Corato it was the place to “pave.”
While travelling through Corato, it is easy to see, even today, how one naturally arrives in the heart of the city (one arrives, one does not penetrate, as in other grimmer or more secretive cities). The monuments to religious and laic power, all located along the road axes, on the main lines and the bisecting lines of the corners, invite the visitor to continue on towards the centre, and from the centre they call him out again towards the outskirts, as if the powers were required to come to agreement with the city, rather than to enslave it. Therefore, it is a city that is easy to “understand” and to use, a city where it is as easy to enter as it has been easy, for many, to exit. The natives of Corato have departed and returned, they have created communities of people from Corato around the world.
Corato, therefore, is a welcoming, pragmatic, vital city that rather than “constraints” has given itself “regulations.” As if a previously unknown character of civitas, not easily found in the cultural roots of this area, had precociously found its way into the predictable history of a rural city, freeing it quite early on from its feudal destiny, protecting it at the same time from bloody conflicts and rendering it recognisable for this uncommon reason, and, so to speak, genetically predisposed to metabolise modernity, which it welded naturally to its origins.