Home Page Where is Salento When to come in Salento What to know about Salento Why to come in Salento How to reach Salento Contact us

Texts by Elisabetta D'Errico
Search on Repubblica Salentina
what is Repubblica Salentina
what do people say about Salento
Carla Bruni - Amanda Lamb
what to know

Homeland of Pizzica and Taranta - "Florence" of southern Italy - "Jamaica" of Europe
what to visit

Cities and towns: Lecce and its historical centre - The historical centre of Otranto - The historical centre of Gallipoli
Museums: in Lecce - in Calimera - in Cutrofiano - in Martano - in Corigliano - in Otranto - in Vaste - in Casarano - in Presicce - in Alezio
what to discover

Messapian Park in Cavallino - Underground oil mill in Sternatia - Archaeological site of Vaste - Church of S. Caterina in Galatina
Special places: Muro Leccese - Porto Badisco - Roca - Porto Selvaggio - Tricase - Marina Serra - Felline
what to eat and drink

what to buy
It isn't a country, it's a "res publica"!
Though the name may let us think the contrary, “Repubblica Salentina” is not a new State, but rather a movement and its name reminds “res publica”; by these words Latin people named “something that belonged to everyone”, “something for everybody’s sake”.
This new form of Republic, born inside a school (the Technical Institute “Costa” of Lecce, indeed) promotes the cultural, artistical, economical and touristic development of Salento.
The movement was born two years ago but, after such a short period of time, the activities of Repubblica Salentina are so much famous and appreciated all over Italy that the work of these young people is considered one of the most advanced and original strategies in the field of territorial marketing.
What do the icons represent?
The Sun stands for Nature and all its elements.
The Tower stands for the History of the Land.
The Neolithic Icon (found out in the "Grotta dei Cervi") stands for the Land and the People.
The Spider ("tarantola") stands for Culture and Traditions.

Today Tomorrow

Carla Bruni (singer, model and wife of French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy)
"This is one of the most beautiful regions of Italy - and part of what makes it so beautiful is that it's virtually deserted.
The thing about Italy, which you soon learn if you spent much time there, is that it's often surprisingly crowded, especially during the summer months. So somewhere like Puglia and especially Salento, which tends to be visited only by Italians, is so refreshing.
Added to which, the landscape is stunning, there is no industry so the air is pure, the hotels are very simple and everything about it - be it the food, the temperature or the sea - is just perfect.
Really, it's the best of Italy without any of the downsides that inevitably come with tourism. How long it will stay that way, I don't know, so I go now, whenever I can."
Amanda Lamb (presenter of Channel Four’s "A Place in the Sun")
The well-travelled presenter fell in love with an apartment when showing it some prospective buyers during filming of the show last year. They bought it, but Lamb got one in the building next door. It is currently undergoing renovations. On Channel Four’s website she writes: “It’s just around the corner from Dame Helen Mirren’s. Well, if it’s good enough for the Queen, it’s good enough for me.”

Salento, homeland of Pizzica and Taranta spider
They are rhythms and music which, with simple melodies, evoke pagan ritual dances. In the past they were considered an instrument to cure, to exorcize spirits and purify environments; moreover they propitiated victories and fertility. "Pizzica" belongs to such music; it is a dance that cures the “tarantolati”, that is to say people who have been stung by the terrible “tarantola” (a spider whose bites cause spasms and epileptic fits and sometimes cause even insanity). “Pizzica” is played by accordions, violins and tambourines, with a constant rhythm, while the “tarantolati” dance with syncopated and vigorous movements. They dance until they are exhausted so that the poison fades away with the physical movement.
Lecce, "Florence" of southern Italy
Lecce is a wonder of baroque architecture, and for this reason it is referred to as the “Florence of the South”.
The town is rightly acclaimed as one of the capitals of the Baroque style, a style which here achieved a particular originality and exuberance, due to the skill with which local architects and stonemasons worked the soft, malleable, pink-tinged local stone, called pietra leccese. Another pearl of Lecce is Piazza Sant'Oronzo, the main square and the heart of local activities for centuries. The square is partly occupied by the Roman amphitheatre and made up of narrow, winding streets, full of charm. You cannot leave from Lecce without admiring the church of Santa Croce and Piazza Duomo. This square is a single example of “closed square”; it is closed on three sides by the Cathedral and two twin palaces belonging to the church. Despite the considerable size of the square, one of the largest in Europe, here you will breathe a very intimate atmosphere, despite the considerable size of the square — one of the largest in Europe.
Salento, "Jamaica" of Europe for reggae music
Certainly there is some reason why Salento is considered the European Jamaica. “Reggae Salentino” was born at the end of 1980’s with a group of boys (the future Sud Sound System) who loved Reggae music and brought it to their land, a land so far from the usual chains but so rich in culture and traditions. The link between the Jamaican Reggae and the traditional popular heritage of Salento lies both in a mere musical attitude and in a series of social themes deriving from the geographical position of the two countries, both enlivened by a heartfelt warmth.

Lecce and its historical centre
You can start your visit of Lecce from Porta Napoli. Here you see the Obelisk, built in “pietra leccese” to celebrate the visit of Ferdinand I, king of the two Sicilies; on it are carved the crests of the four districts which formed the Terra d’Otranto (Lecce, Brindisi, Gallipoli and Taranto). Then there is the Triumphal Arch, one of the old city gates (St. Giusto gate, in fact) set into the city walls. Built in 1548, it was dedicated to Emperor Charles V and was called Porta Napoli just because it guarded the main road which led to the capital of the Reing, Naples in fact. The monument shows Corinthian capitals and a cornice topped by a triangle on which the Arms of the Empire and the Crest are carved.
Walking along Via Palmieri you will enter in the core of the town andsoon you will see a little church on the right (the “Church of St. Luigi”) and a small theatre on the left. This is the “Teatro Paisiello (Giovanni Paisiello was a musician from Taranto) and was built in 45 days in 1768, in a period when people considered theatre very entertaining. After the 2nd World War the theatre was closed but it was reopened in the last century. Nowadays theatrical performances and other events are held here. During your walk you will admire beautiful palaces, especially in piazzetta Panzera, and little shops which sell craftmade objects.
At the end of Via Palmieri, Piazza Duomo is in front of you with the Bell-Tower, the Cathedral, the Bishop’s palace and the old Seminary. The square has a peculiarity: it is a rare example of closed square in Italy. In the past, in fact, at the entrance (where there are two twin buildings) there was a wooden gate; this gate was closed every evening just to keep religious life apart from ordinary life.
The façade of the Cathedral was built in the second half of the 17th century for Bishop Pappacoda (whose sepulchral monument is inside the church) to enlarge the old church, while the main entrance is on the side, next to the Bishop’s palace. In fact the old façade is not so richly decorated and lacks of solemnity, it is more composed and almost austere. The architect who enlarged the church was Giuseppe Zimbalo.
Inside the Cathedral there are paintings by Oronzo Tiso, representing the “Virgin” (to whom the church is dedicated) and other Biblical stories. It is rich of altars, both in Baroque style and a simpler style.
The Old Seminary (today the seat of the Diocesan Museum) is considered the thriumph of Baroque style. Its architect was Giuseppe Cino who built it in the 17th century using the same style as in “Palazzo dei Celestini”. In the hall there is the best example of Baroque in Lecce: the Well, in the middle, with lots of decorations (especially fruit and flowers). On solemn ceremonies the central balconies and the lateral windows are adorned with cloths on which are painted three pots, the symbols of Pignatelli family (a Bishop of Lecce belonged to this ancient family).
Opposite the palace it stands the Bell-tower (72 mt.), the work of Giuseppe Zimbalo.
When you leave Piazza Duomo, if you take the road on the right, you will arrive at Piazza St. Oronzo, the main square of the town. Walking down you will meet another beautiful church, the best example of Renaissance architecture in Lecce: the “Church of the Teatini”, one of the religious orders who lived in Lecce and contributed to embellish it (in fact many designers and planners were just monks!). Every part, here, is in perfect harmony, the planes are slender and the style is simple.
Piazza St. Oronzo” was once called “the merchants’ square” because here twice a week there was the weekly market where merchants met for their business relationships in the shops and in the square. Here there is the old “Palace of Justice” (1577), built by the Jesuits, whose church (the “Church of Buon Consiglio”) is nearby. The Jesuits, in fact, played an important role in Lecce, in fact they founded a school (a kind of university) which was opened until 1767, the year when the order was expelled from Lecce. Until 1977 the palace was the seat of the Palace of Justice.
Opposite it there is the Town Hall (“Palazzo Carafa”) , built on the ruin of an old convent of the 16th century (the Paolotte’s convent), run by nuns. Then, in 1895, the Municipality bought the convent and turned it into Town Hall.
The pearl of the square is the Roman Amphitheatre, appearantly built in the 1st or early 2nd century A.D., during the reign of Trajan. Then it remained covered for centuries until it was brought to light again in 1905 by the local scholar Cosimo De Giorgi during the works for the Bank of Italy. It shows the importance of Roman civilization in Lecce and here hunting games or celebrations and feasts were held in the past. This is understood by the friezes around the podium; then you will see scenes of fighting bulls and exotic animals (elephants, lions, panthers and wolves), Roman inscriptions, sculptures and even a statue of Athena attributed to the Athenian sculptor Alcmene (which nowadays is kept in the Provincial Museum). The amphitheatre, recalling those built by the Romans, was dug out of a limestone deposit, with the addition of “pietra leccese”. Probably there was another level of seats above the top row that we see today, probably with columns and pillars. The entrance is next to the bank and a staircase takes you down during summer performances. Here now there is an empty stone on which in the past there was a bronze eagle: it held a parchment (sculpted in bronze too) bearing lyrics composed by Quinto Ennio; but the eagle was sacrified during the Second World War because its bronze was used to make guns. During the excavations, they found a small Greco-Messapian burial chamber (a hypogeum) with stone inscriptions which are now exhibited in the Archeaeological Museum: they were written in a language that has not been deciphered yet.
Behind the amphitheatre there is the “Sedile”, a large square-shaped building with Gothic arches topped by rounded arches. It dates back to the end of the 16th century and was built by Pietro Mocenigo, a Venetian, to witness the business relationships between Lecce and Venice (Venice was the place of departure for the Eastern Mediterranean). Until the 19th century it was the seat of the Town Hall, then it was turned into Tourist Office; now it is the place for Exhibitions.
The real symbol of the square is the “Column”, built in 1666 to thank St. Oronzo who had saved the town from the plague in 1656. The marble column marked the end of Via Appia and was a gift from people of Brindisi; the original statue of the Saint (that you see above the Column) was destroyed in 1737 by fireworks and it was remade in a workshop in Venice. When it was put above the column again, people changed its position and put it as watching northwards (that is to say towards the square); this because it was unthinkable that the Saint blessed the pagan amphitheatre, as it was before its destruction.
Not far from St. Oronzo square there are two wonderful examples of Baroque in Lecce: the “Basilica of Santa Croce" and “Palazzo dei Celestini” (the Celesitnes were another religious order and had their Monastery just here). The two buildings date back to the 16th century. The style of the church is ebullient without exaggeration, the façade is wonderful, with a beautiful rose-window surrounded by angels. It was the work of Gabriele Riccardi, Cesare Penna and Giuseppe Zimbalo. The words are not enough to describe the beauty of Santa Croce, but you certainly will be fascinated in front of lions, dragons and angels which hold the balaustrade. When you go inside you will breathe an austere atmosphere (as you feel in the Classical basilica style), with its wooden ceiling and the smooth columns adorned by Corinthian capitals. The altars, in the side aisles, are pure Baroque and some of them show beautiful paintings. You cannot leave from Lecce without visiting the “Castle” and the Church of San Matteo”. The “Castle” (16th century), built on a preexistent fortress of Gualtieri VI of Brienne, was the work of Gian Giacomo dell’Acaja. You can visit the large rooms of the Castle if you go to exhibitions or take part to cultural events here, even if the building is still being restored. The “Church of San Matteo” is what the German historian Gregorovious defined the “Pantheon of Lecce Baroque”, a superb building with curve surfaces and strong volumes. You will notice the concave surface at the top and a convex one at the bottom. It was built in the late 17th century, designed by the architect Achille Carducci. The peculiarity of the façade are the columns: one is smooth, the other one has a spiral decoration. As the church is in the core of the “Movida leccese”, the parish priest has decided to keep it opened till late for evening church meetings. His aim, of course, is to draw young people’s attention to religious faith.
While walking through the historical centre you will see wonderful palaces, the property of ancient aristocratic families which still keep the old splendour. Most of them belong to the heirs of these families who still live here while others have been sold, but inside they are always wonderful, with beautiful gardens, balconies and rooms.
The historical centre of Otranto
You can start your visit of Otranto from the “Lungomare degli Eroi” (“Heroes Promenade”) which will lead you to the old town. You enter through Porta Alfonsina built after Otranto was rescued from the Turks’ attacks thanks to Alfonso of Aragona’s fortification plan. The historical centre is a series of narrow streets following one another like tortuous alleys, full of little coloured shops which sell a rich variety of objects: whistles, pots, jewels, clothes, laces, typical food and whatever else.
The Cathedral is in a little square; it dominates the sight with its Renaissance rose window in Gothic-Arab style. It was built about from 1080 to 1088 and was dedicated to the “Virgin Assunta”. The portal, in Baroque style, was restored in 1674 and shows the coat of arms of the archbishop who commissioned its building. On the left side there is another entrance, in Renaissance style. The Cathedral has three large naves separated by 14 columns upon which there are romanesque, ionian and corinthian capitals. Inside here found refuge women and children who tried to escape from the Turkish siege, but the soldiers came inside and murdered them, spreading blood all over the floor, on the famous Pantaleone Mosaic.
The “Mosaic” (16 metres long) is very famous; it was made between 1163 and 1165 by a monk who lived in the near Abbey of San Nicola di Casole. His name (Pantaleone) in fact is written on the floor, at the entrance. In the mosaic the monk portrayed the Tree of Life (an enormous tree from the entrance to the presbitery) starting from the Creation. It is held by two big elephants. On its branches Pantaleone put other animals, both real and imaginary (lions, griffons, snakes, centaurs and unicorns), great men (Alexander the Great, King Arthur), Noah’s Ark, Adam and Eve (when they were expelled from the Garden of Eden), scenes from the Old Testament, the Zodiac (they are 12 scenes, each representing a country work) as well as other images taken both from classical myths and medieval legends. Many pictures and symbols cannot be understood.
In the “Chapel of the Martyrs”, in the right nave, in seven reliquiaries there are the bones of the 800 Martyrs, people who were murdered on the 14th August 1480 by the Turks because they had not abjured their Christian faith. They were beheaded on the Minerva Hill, where now there is a chapel.
Along the staircase on the right aisle, you can go down into the “Crypt”, a very suggestive crypt, with 42 marble columns, each one of a different colour, with capitals and cross vaults which divide the church into five little naves.
Once out of the Cathedral you take a little street that leads you to the Castle and the Ramparts. In summer lots of tourists come here and buy souvenirs or take photos. From the Ramparts you overlook the sea and the port that, especially in summe, is full of lights and people who sing and talk till late at night.
Before arriving to the Castle, in a little square, there is the byzantine “Church of St. Peter”, one of the few Byzantine examples in good condition in Italy. In fact here you can still admire original paintings.
The Castle was restored during the 1980’s; it was built for the Aragonese king between 1485 and 1489. It has a pentagonal shape with three cylindrical towers on the corners. In the moat are still visible some of the granite balls shot by the Turks during their attack in 1480.
The historical centre of Gallipoli
The old part of the town is something different from the rest. It is a circular island which you can visit walking along the ramparts.
Lorenzo MilanoIn the past the walls were 2 metres high, now they are much lower and from there your gaze can sweep over the blue sea as far as the horizon. Among little alleys and tourtuous streets lots of baroque façades, wonderful buildings and houses will appear before you. Start your walk in an anticlockwise direction from the road that dominates the new trading centre and you will find the “Church of San Francesco da Paola”, with its sober façade and a little niche with the statue of the Saint inside. The “Church of Santa Maria della Purità” is the oldest church, dating back to the second half of the 17th century; in the sacristy there are the tombs of the “Dead Christ” and of “Our Lady of Sorrows”. On Easter Saturday, before the sun rises, people bring these two statues on a procession, one of the most suggestive religious rituals of Salento. All the paintings inside belong to the 18th century Neapolitan school. Even the floor made of majolica and the benches are beautiful works of art.
Walking ahead, along the ramparts, there are the “Church of San Francesco” (full of several beautiful paintings), the “Church of the Immacolata”, the “Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli”, the “Church of Rosario”, each with its own style.
In the highest place of the old town there is the “Cathedral of Sant’Agata”, one of the best examples of Baroque in Salento (after the Church of the Holy Cross in Lecce). The façade was built by Giuseppe Zimbalo, the same artist who built the Bell Tower in Lecce. What is peculiar here is the use of ” carparo”, which is less soft and friable than the “pietra leccese”, which gives its dark pink colour. The church was built in the years between 1629 and 1696 and on the façade it shows the two patron saints of Gallipoli: St Sebastiano and St. Fausto. Inside, on the walls and on the ceiling, there are paintings of the 17th and 18th centuries. On the main street there are “Balsamo Palace” (now the seat of the Town Hall) and “Pirelli Palace”, with a nice Baroque loggia, facing the Cathedral. Next to it, an ancient portal of the 16th century is today a chemist’s, which still keeps its original 19th century furniture and decorations. It is really worthy to visit.
A little further stands a building which once was the “Church of St. Angelo”, but now there is the town library containing more than ten thousand volumes, among which some books published in 1500, Latin incunabula and manuscripts. Here there is also “Tafuri Palace”, one of the most precious: though restored in the façade, the building is run wild, but you can admire the oval windows with rococò friezes engraved on the “carparo” stone, the wrought iron rounded balconies which remind us the Spanish art; Spain, in fact, had trade relationships with Gallipoli.
On the main street there is an underground oil mill, very well preserved, where there are the millstones and other machines used to make oil. In fact old documents report that in the past there were in Gallipoli 35 underground oil mills and people produced about eighty thousand kilos of oil every month. There is a curiosity about Gallipoli: the town brought light to Europe. In fact, before the advent of electricity, the street lamps in London, Berlin Paris Wien and Amsterdam were lit up with the oil from Gallipoli.

The Sigismondo Castromediano Museum in Lecce
The Museum, founded in 1868 from Sigismondo Castromediano, duke of Cavallino, is set in the old Jesuit “Collegio Argento”. It contains a rich collection of archaeological finds from Rudiae and from other Messapian centres; there are Messapian, Roman and Greek objects and sculptures as well as prehistorical finds with inscriptions and paintings. Here you can find too an accurate description of “dolmens” and “menhirs” which are in the countryside near Lecce.
The works are divided into five sections: the first section is dedicated to the most important historical and artistic places of Salento; the “antiquarium” section contains numerous glass shrines with vases from the 6th and 5th centuries and bronze treasures, ancient coins and inscriptions in Messapian language; the topographic section shows ancient maps of Salento; the picture-gallery shows paintings from 1400 to 1700, sculptures and ikons; finally, the exhibitions hall contains works of local artists of 19th and 20th centuries.
The Provincial Library “Nicola Bernardini”, which is inside the museum, is a precious source of culture and history of Lecce and Salento, full of books and ancient manuscripts.
The Roman Theatre and Museum in Lecce
It is in the heart of the town and contains remains of Roman civilization, found during the restoration of the Roman theatre (in 1929). The museum was opened in 1999 thanks to the contribution of “Fondazione Memmo” and now many cultural exhibitions are organized here.
Inside the museum you can admire frescoes of the Roman “Domus Balnea” representing animals, fruits, birds as well as female figures and satyres. Then there are statues taken from the National Museum in Rome (such as Dionysus), and a series of nine masks coming from the ancient theatrical tradition, taken from Villa Adriana in Tivoli.
There are marble sculptures too: the statues of Athena, Artemis, Ares and Emperor Augustus.
The Chinese Missionary Museum and the “Pinacoteca” of Fulgenzio in Lecce
The Chinese Missionary Museum and of Natural History of Frati Minori in Lecce dates back to 1963 when Father Egidio De Tommaso, decided to keep and show the objects brought to Italy by Father Egidio Santoro, a missionary to China for about 40 years. At first the museum was set in the sixteenth-century building of Fulgenzio Della Monica. In 1981 it was moved on the second floor of the Convent of S.Antonio. There are two sections: one concerning ancient and modern Chinese culture and the other one concerning Natural History. The latter is subdivided into two subsections: Sea Fauna and Terrestrial Fauna.
In elegant showcases are kept various amulets and little statues made of iron, copper, gilded wood, ivory and jade. There are also precious ancient and modern porcelains, vases and dishes in bronze or copper. In another room of the same Section there are objects of the Aboriginal TAYALS, who were the forst inhabitants of the island of Formosa.
The section of Sea Fauna includes collections of: Echinodermi, Shells, Madrepore, Exotic Fishes, Sea Birds and Shellfishes. The most important is the collection of Shells (with almost 2.000 examples), of clams from all seas and all families, showed in twenty elegant showcases, each with its own card bearing its scientific name and place of origin.
In the section of Terrestrial Fauna you will see: Butterflies, Coleopters, Exotic animals and birds.
There are almost four hundred samples of butterflies; the exotic animals include animals coming from the extreme East and Formosa. The collection of Birds counts about 250 specimens. Go to the specific site

In the rooms, of the Art Gallery you will admire about 200 works, dating back to the years from the end of the 16th century to the 20th century, most of which remain anonymous. The works come from various monasteries of the Franciscan Province of Salento.
Founded by Father Egidio De Tommaso, the Art Gallery was opened on 7th November 1968. During the years, thanks to donations of some benefactors, the collection has enriched with pieces of ceramics, plaster models attributed to Antonio Bortone, lithographs, papier-mâché statues and paintings of contemporary art.
The Museum of Local Traditions outside of Lecce
The Museum of Local Traditions next to the 12th century in the Abbey of St. Maria of Cerrate, north of Lecce, exhibits all sorts of tools used in folk tradition. It shows the kind of work people made in the fields in ancient times, when flour was made in home-windmills and oil in underground olive-mills. Here you can see the hand-looms used to make beautiful carpets, curtains or linens. Moreover in some rooms there is even a kitchen and its tools, the bedroom and the room where women wove.
There are also two underground olive mills and the basin for grinding olives in their original position.
The Museum of Natural History in Calimera
The museum is considered a place of protection and study of environment, fauna and flora of Salento. In fact it is in touch with important universities and organizations both in Italy and in Europe. For example, it cooperates with the Zoological Centre Anton Dhorn in Naples, concerned with saving and studying turtles.
Here you will see wonderful specimens of minerals, insects, shells, reptiles, stuffed animals and also a nice garden full of pheasants, ducks, peacocks, a ferret and lots of other beautiful natural things. The study of butterflies is very important, in fact they have discovered and classified lots of unknown species. Go to the specific site
The Farming Traditions House-Museum in Calimera
It is a place where you can see remains of the Griko culture. Opened in 2003, each room shows a different theme and some of the objects were just part of the house in ancient times, such as the kitchen utensils, the infant’s clothes, the work tools and the waving machine. The house-museum is not only a collection of traditional objects; there is also a library with 3000 books and more than 10.000 articles published on local, national and Greek newspapers. A multimedial library keeps Videos, Cds, Cd-roms, Dvds.
While visiting the rooms you wil hear folk “grika” music.
The Museum of Ceramics in Cutrofiano
Cutrofiano is the town of “terracotta”, in fact the interest in ceramics has grown into a real art. The museum was opened in 1985 as an exhibition of traditional “terracotta” produced by the local handicraftsmen. During the years the collection has been enriched thanks to donations by aristocratic families; now it shows all that can be done out of clay: plates, bowls, small amphoprae, pots and so on.
In fact in the 19th century there was a large production of earthernware in workshops where the craftsmen made shapes for sweets, oil lamps, soup tureens and jars (the so called “pignate” which today we buy just to enjoy old times again).
There are four sections: the archaeologial-historical section (with objects from the pre-historical to the post-medieval period); the artistical-historic section (where there are glazed ceramics produced both in Cutrofiano and elsewhere in Southern Italy); the anthropological section (with objects from the 19th and early 20th centuries); the technological section (it contains tools and instruments uesd to produce “terracotta”, taken from local workshops).
The “Giulio Pagliano” Museum in Martano
It keeps the collections which the famous researcher Michele Paone left to the Cistercian monks, after years of researches and journeys. It contais a rich collection of coins of the Reign of Naples, a collection of medals with sacred images, old maps of Apulien and Salento, views of towns and pictures of folk costumes.
Moreover there are statues made of papier-mâché, fans, ceramics, German and Austrian porcelains and Boemian crystals.
The monks have also set up the “Giulio Pagliano Picture Gallery” and the “Placido Caputo Library” in the old Monastery of Santa Maria della Consolazione. Giulio Pagliano was a painter from Gallipoli and after his death his wife (Donna Maria Consiglio) gave Michele Paone most of her husband’s paintings. Besides Pagliano’s works you will also see the works of other artists of Salento, Apulien and Naples, such as Gioacchino Toma, Girolamo Lorenzini, Vincenzo Ciardo, Amerigo Buscicchio, Emanuele Buscicchio, Geremia Re, Pino Donno, Luigi Ammassari and others. In the cloister there is also an exhibition of medicinal herbs.
The “Grecìa Salentina” Multimedial Museum in Corigliano d’Otranto
Inside the halls of the wonderful Castello de’ Monti you will see all that is worthy to see about the “Grecìa Salentina”, through computerised recostructions of houses or videos or CDs in Griko language and music. The multimedial museum gives you information about the traditions and the architecture of “Grecia” in Salento, all this while passing from one room to another; moreover you can listen to explanations or see images even in 3D.
There are also two reference points for information about history, art, traditions and habits of Griko as well as a multilingual glossary with words in Griko translated simultaneously in the most important European languages.
The Diocesan Museum of Religious Art in Otranto
Opened in 1992 inside the 17th century Lopez Palace as museum of sacred art, it keeps objects of high historical and artistical interest, all coming from the Cathedral: the remains of the first floor mosaic of the Cathedral dating back to the Roman age, a christening font of the 15th century (a work of the local sculptor Gabriele Riccardi), mitres, silver reliquiaries, pastorals and lots of religious objects. On the ground floor there is the lapidary and the sculpture section; on the first floor you will see a wonderful collection of paintings and on the second one there is a section dedicated to the applied arts.
The Messapian Museum in Vaste
The Archaeological Museum of Messapian Civilization is set inside the “Palazzo Baronale” (16th century). There are remains from the Archaic and Hellenistic age up to the Middle ages. It is worthy to see the “Tesoretto di Vaste” consisting of 150 silver coins called “stateri” of the 3rd century B.C. and 17 “tesserae lusoriae”, made of ivory and used in games during the 2nd century B.C.
During your visit you will admire rich trousseaus for the tombs, basins, strigils, the typical “trozzelle” and even a capital of a funeral column, discovered by engineer Gianni Carluccio from Lecce.
The Miners Museum in Casarano
It was opened by Lucio Parrotto, one of the miners who went to work in Belgium. It reminds us the sacrifice of lots of men who died at a depth of lots of metres in the coal mines. Lucio was 21 when he left for Belgium, in 1956. He and his wife Angela then collected whatever material they had for long years: photos, tools, shovels, picks, hammers, lanterns, helmets and even trolleys for coal. On the walls there is even a page from the “Sole d’Italia” dated 9th August 1956, that tells the disgrace of Marcinelle, when, at a depth of 1035 mt., 262 men died (136 of them were Italian!).
If you want to visit the museum it is better to call some days before.
The Museum of Farming Civilization in Presicce
It has four rooms, each one bearing the name of the four natural elements (water, air, earth and fire) and preserves so many witnesses of Salentine culture. You can find sieves made of wood or leather, vases made of “terracotta” for water or oil, the ancient clock from the “Chiesa Madre” and a rich collection of photos. There are about 300 objects representing ancient daily life in Salento. The collection has been enlarged with gifts by private citizens and now it includes tools and furnishings belonged to farmers, joiners, blacksmiths, cobblers, bricklayers and weavers: for example there are sieves for flour, olives or legumes, a wooden plough, tools for reaping and so on. Go to the specific site
The Messapian Civic Museum in Alezio The objects preserved in the museum were found out during the excavations inside the built-up area; they are witnesses of the Messapian presence in Alezio. The museum was opened in the early 1980’s and, after being closed for a long time, in 2000 it was restored and settled inside Tafuri Palace, a beautiful building of the 18th century. Among the finds there are: round bowls, toys made of “terracotta” and a gold trousseaux found inside a Messapian tomb of a young woman. This tomb dates back to the 1st century B.C.

The Messapian Park in Cavallino
It is situated in the archaeological area (10 hectares wide) around Cavallino, linked to the town through a cycle path which takes directly to the Baronal Palace and to the monastery of Dominicans. It shows the ruins of buildings, tombs, cisterns, monuments and water channels. You can see the ruins of an ancient Messapian settlement of the archaic age; indeed, Cavallino is one of the most famous Messapian sites together with Oria and Ugento. The “Museo Diffuso” is also the seat of the Archaeoligical School of Lecce University.
The underground oil mill in Sternatia
Dating back to 15th – 18th century, the “Granafei” oil mill, at the entrance of the historical centre, has been recently restored. Going down you can have an idea of how people made a living out of oil production. There are two rooms which were used for the pressing of olives, two tables and two sink-holes.
In the past a network of 19 underground oil mills, linked through underground communications, livened up the economic life in Sternatia.
The archaeological site of Vaste, within Poggiardo area
It surrounds the “Crypte of SS. Stefani”. It is called “Parco dei Guerrieri” (The Warriors’ park) and is 20 hectares wide. The park is practicable also by bicycle and all around it there are the fortified walls dating back to the 4th century B.C. with a series of artificial sand dunes upon which there are shapes of Messapian warriors.
The site of Vaste, even cited by Plinio and Tolomeo, represents one of the most interesting examples for the quantity and quality of excavations. You will see the foundations of an early Christian church and a rocky necropolis.
The Church of Santa Caterina of Alessandria in Galatina
It is in Piazzetta Orsini, one of the most beautiful religious buildings in Salento that deserved the name of “Basilica Minore Pontificia”. Looking at the façade you will see the skillful hands of stone-cutters and artists who, from 1384 to 1391, erected it for Raimondello Orsini del Balzo, for people of Latin religion.
The church is divided into five naves; the interior shows wonderful decorations and numerous art scholars consider it as beautiful as the Basilica of St. Francesco in Assisi. Its style is a mix of Romanesque, Gothic, Byzantine and Norman. Inside there are wonderful capitals decorated with pictures and the tombs of Raimondello and his son. What is wonderful above all are the frescoes, divided into 150 scenes, representing different pictorial arts. They develop a tale of religious sequences expressing the style and the way of thinking of the Franciscans. In fact, the image of St. Francesco is visible in several arches and pilasters as well as in the arch of the apse: we see St. Francesco while he receives the stigmata from the seraph and his embrace with St. Domenico. St. Francesco, St. Chiara, St. Elisabetta are portrayed also in the cloister, together with other Saints, in twelve medallions.
In the frescoes several scenes from the Genesis are represented, all painted in light and warm colours, expressing joy and praises to the Sun and the Stars. Other frescoes portray scenes from Jesus’ life (from his birth to the escape to Egypt), from the Virgin’s life (her engagement to Giuseppe and the Annunciation) and other events told by the four Evangelists.
You will also see a Crib, in polychromatic stone, in the left aisle and a wooden sculpture representing Calvary.
Muro Leccese
It is the largest Messapian town in Salento. The archeaeological studies have brought to light lots of remains dating back to the 8th - 7th centuries B. C. Agriculture developed here during the Roman age and under the Bizantyne domination. From the Bizantyne period there remains the “Church of St. Marina” (with beautiful frescoes) and the “Church of St. Maria of Miggiano”. When the Normans arrived, in the second half of the 11th century, the area around Muro Leccese was full of small agricultural centres. Then, from the 16th century on, it saw an extraordinary building expansion and lots of monuments were built so that Muro was defined the “small capital of Baroque”: the “Convent” and the “Church of the Dominicans”, the “Church of Crocifisso”, the “Church of the Annunziata”, the “Church of the Immacolata”, the “Colonna dei quattro evangelisti” (it was built in 1607 and is just in the middle of “Piazza del Popolo”, certainly the most beautiful square in Salento), “Palazzo Negri”, “Palazzo del Principe”and the “underground oilmill of Protonobilissimo”.
Near Muro Leccese there are also some menhirs, generally 4 mt. high, which probably had a religious function.
Porto Badisco
The beach of Porto Badisco has a great historical value and, as the Latin poet Virgilio wrote, it is the shore where Aenea arrived after he escaped from Troy. Here the inhabitants of the Neolitic period lived in a cave and decorated it with paintings and pictograms. The cave is the “Grotta dei Cervi”, one of the most important pre-historical sites in Europe, with its dark coloured paintings perfectly preserved still today. Even it has been described as the pre-historical “Cappella Sistina” but you cannot visit it not to ruin the paintings on the walls. Anyway if you go to Porto Badisco in summer, you will enjoy a rare landscape: the bay is all covered with yellow brooms peeping out of the rocks and the sea has a green-blue colour, as clear as the crystal. Here you can taste sea urchins, both in little stalls and at the restaurants.
In the middle of the little bay there a pretty beach: on the left side there is a small stream, few metres long, which slowly flows into the sea. This is one of the last branches of an underground river where the water from the Valle dei Cervi goes. Few metres far from the beach, the sea becomes very deep. On the northern side there is the entrance to the “Cunicolo dei Diavoli”, where rare specimens of cave animals live.
The whole area is now privatized, though open to the public. It is the ideal place where to dive with flippers and mask, but we recommend you not to go there when “scirocco” wind blows.
The history of Roca goes back to the Bronze Age and lasts until 1544, when Ferrante Loffredo, the Governor of Terra d’Otranto, decided to raze it to the ground because lots of highwaymen had found refuge here. So the survivors moved to the inland and founded Roca Nuova, where today you can see the remains of an old two storey castle and a little church dedicated to St. Vito. What is worthy to visit is the “Grotta della Poesia”, on the promontory below the column upon which stands the statue of the Virgin of Roca. In the past you could get in only through the sea, now it is possible to go down through metal ladders. On the walls there are inscriptions written in Messapian, Greek and Latin language: this demonstrates Roca gave hospitality to merchants and pirates from different countries. Then you can also admire the remains of the castle built by Gualtiero VI of Brienne in 1353, remains of Messapian walls, of tombs and even houses.
Porto Selvaggio
On the Jonian coast, between Torre dell’Alto and Torre Uluzzo, you will find a suggestive landscape with emerging rocks in a clear sea surrrounded by a thick pinewood and Mediterranean bush. This area has been protected since 1980, after violent quarrels with the public and political authorities, and goes under the name of “Parco naturale attrezzato di Porto Selvaggio”. The area is full of vegetal and animal specimens: goldfinch, chaffinch, greenfinch, lizards, foxes, hedgehogs, capers, lentisk and myrtle. The whole area is 428 hectares wide.
This town was born out of three country houses which gathered together against the enemies’ attacks.These three houses appear in fact on the municipal coat of arms. Since then, every house tells the story of the town, as we see from the Castle of Principi Gallone and its tower of the 14th century.The legend says that the Castle had as many rooms as the days of the year and that the “throne room”could house more than 1000 people. Now it is the seat of the Town Hall but the “throne room”, newly restored, keeps its ancient austerity and stateliness. Not very far from here, stands the baroque “Church of St. Domenico”, dating back to 1688, where you will see wonderful paintings and statues. The Gallone family, then, commissioned the building of the ”Chiesa matrice”, and wanted it so wide to overshadow other religious buildings in the South of Salento. On a side of the square stands the “Church of Nativity”, where, in the Crypt, are kept the mortal remains of Cardinal Giovanni Panico, to whom the local hospital (run by the Marcelline nuns) is dedicated.
Marina Serra
It is situated on the road from Tricase to Santa Maria di Leuca. It has a quadrangular tower, Novaglie, and will show you a breathtaking landscape while you cross the bridge on “Ciolo”, that joins together the two sides of a deep canyon. Here the sea has a colour from blue to green. It takes the name “Ciolo” from the “ciole”, a kind of ravens which live on the walls. We suggest you to come here because is really fantastic!
Felline is a small town in the Alliste area where there is no noise and everything is slow and calm, as if the time has stopped. The houses are all white with ochre friezes and many of them have been bought by foreigners, especially people from Great Britain fond calmness and tranquillity. Once in the heart of the town, the asphalt has been replaced by basalt paving stones and if you look above the roofs of the houses, you will see hundreds of chimneys which seem to protect the 1.600 inhabitants. You will not see enormous palaces, the preciousness of this little town lies just in its simplicity, in its narrow streets which lead into cosy little squares.
Felline has a long history: its Roman origins go side by side with the Greek tradition, as appeared in 1967 when the archeaologists found out underground passages, paved floors and remains of ancient furnaces for burning bricks. As the town had suffered attacks from the Turks, its inhabitants were about to abandon it; for this reason the Bonsecolo family ordered to build a strong Castle and some sighting towers along the Jonian coast. Still today you can admire the Castle, that was the residence of famous families (for example we know that Pia de’ Tolomei’s relatives lived here).

Want to know more? - Want to receive info?
Want to suggest something?

Your name
City / Town
Your request
Your suggestions
What do you think
about Salento:
I don't like it
It's not bad
It's gorgeous!
What do you think
about this website:
I don't like it
It's ok
I really like it!

Photo tour in Salento Video tour in Salento Hotels, B&B, Masserie in Salento Restaurants and trattorie in Salento Buy food and handicraft in Salento

Home Page Where is Salento When to come in Salento Wha to know about Salento Why to come in Salento How to reach Salento Contact us