In mediaeval times, the port was frequently attacked by pirates and Saracens, and by enemies of the Kingdom of Naples. In 1554 around 5,000 inhabitants were executed by the Turks, on the grounds that they were too elderly or infirm to merit transportation into slavery. This event is commemorated annually in a ceremony which has now degenerated into a kind of summer Hallowe'en.
The town is bordered by Mattinata, Monte Sant'Angelo, Peschici and Vico del Gargano. The coast is interesting from a geological point of view. Next to the town there are two large, straight, beaches. The rest of the coast is made up of gulfs and small, hidden sandy beaches. Erosion by water and wind has shaped the calcareous rock into grottoes and arches. Since the coast is steep, some of the finest sights can be reached only by sea.