District in the northwest of Apulia, including the Gargnano peninsula (the “spur of Italy”) and the neighbouring coastlands and interior. It took its name from the Catapan, the principal officer of the Byzantine Empire in southern Italy after the recovery of its lands there in the late 9th century. Because this heavily fortified region was so strategically important, the Catapan’s presence there was frequent and so the name of his office became attached to the district.
The Normans conquered Byzantine Italy in the third quarter of the 11th century, and it was they who reversed the sounds, doubtless influenced by capitaine. The Capitanata remained part of the Regno (the southern Kingdom), though the northernmost part was separated in 1811 to became the province of Molise. With Italian unification in 1860, the Capitanata became the province of Foggia, its principal town.