Vasto. According to tradition, the town was founded by Diomedes, the Greek hero. The earliest archaeological relics date to 1300 BC, evidence of the first settlements. Histonium was one of the chief towns of the Frentani, situated on the coast of the Adriatic, about 9 km south of the promontory called Punta della Penna. The city is noticed by all the geographers among the towns of the Frentani, and we learn from the Liber Coloniarum that it received a colony, apparently under Julius Caesar. It did not, however, obtain the rank of a colonia, but continued to bear the title of a municipium, as we learn from inscriptions. The same authorities prove that it must have been under the Roman Empire a flourishing and opulent municipal town; and this is further attested by existing remains, which include the vestiges of a theatre, baths, and other public edifices, besides numerous mosaics, statues, and columns of granite or marble. Hence there seems no doubt that it was at this period the chief city of the Frentani. (Romanelli, vol. iii. p. 32.) Among the numerous inscriptions which have been found there, one of the most curious records the fact of a youth named L. Valerius Pudens having at thirteen years of age borne away the prize of Latin poetry in the contests held at Rome in the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus.
 The name of Histonium is still found in the Itineraries of the fourth century and it probably never ceased to exist on its present site, though ravaged successively by the Goths, the Lombards, the Franks, and the Arabs. Some local writers have referred to Histonium the strange passage of Strabo in which he speaks of a place called Ortonium (as the name stands in the manuscripts) as the resort of pirates of a very wild and uncivilised character. The passage is equally inapplicable to Histonium and to Ortona, both of which names naturally suggest themselves; and Kramer is disposed to reject it altogether as spurious.
Punta della Penna harbour and the lighthouse.
Punta della Penna Beach
Histonium has no natural port, but a mere roadstead; and it is not improbable that in the days of its prosperity it had a dependent port at the Punta della Penna, where there is good anchorage, and where Roman remains have also been found, which have been regarded, but probably erroneously, as those of Buca. The inscriptions published by a local antiquarian, as found on the same spot, are in all probability spurious. (See Mommsen, lnscr. Regn. Neap. p. 274, App. p. 30; who has collected and published all the genuine inscriptions found at Histonium.)
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