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Discovering Grecìa Salentina: Martano

26 Giu
Piazza dei Caduti, Martano

Martano is the most populous town (more than 8 thousand inhabitants) and the capital of the Grecìa Salentina, an area of influence of ancient Greece, where the dialect of Grìko is still spoken.

Monastero dei Cistercensi, Martano

The town, inhabited since prehistoric times, preserves ancient testimonies thanks to the Menhir del Teofilo, the highest in the region. The historic center, very suggestive, is called Borgo Terra with alleys, squares and courtyard houses. The palaces from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century are beautiful, including the Baronial one, once the Aragonese Castle, the Maria SS. Assunta, the former Dominican Convent, seat of the Town Hall and the seventeenth-century Cistercian Monastery of Santa Maria della Consolazione with the rich library, the picture gallery and the liqueur shop.

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Discovering Grecìa Salentina: Carpignano Salentino

19 Giu
Carpignano Salentino, palace

With more than 3600 inhabitants, Carpignano Salentino is part of the territory of Grecìa Salentina which still retains the ancient dialect known as grìko. About 25 km from Lecce, the town is about ten minutes from the Adriatic coast, whose nearest seaside resort is Sant’Andrea.

Inhabited since ancient times, Carpignano Salentino preserves the ancient testimonies thanks to the presence of some menhirs: the Grassi menhir and the Croce Grande or Staurotomèa menhir (in Greek Σταυροτομέα).

Carpignano Salentino, detail

From Piazza Duca d’Aosta you enter the alleys and discover the ancient Giudecca enclosed by medieval walls with hanging gardens, 15th century houses, sixteenth-century balconies, the Mother Church and the Ducal Palace. To visit is the underground oil mill and the crypt of S. Cristina from the IX-X century, a masterpiece with ancient frescoes and inscriptions in Greek.

The name of the town derives from that of the Roman centurion Carpinius, but the thesis of a Messapian derivation of the root karp (“stone”, “rock”), for which Carpignano would mean “place placed on a hill”, is equally credited.

If you don’t know where to sleep in Salento, here you will find some useful advice.

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email -> info@villesalento.it

Mobile Phones -> (+39) 366/2604050 – (+39) 392/0202233

Discovering Grecìa Salentina: Castrignano Dei Greci

12 Giu
Castrignano Dei Greci

With about 4000 inhabitants, the town of Castrignano dei Greci is about 25 km from Lecce and just 18 km from Otranto. It is one of the municipalities of Grecìa Salentina, where the ancient language of griko is spoken.

To visit the Baronial Palace De ‘Gualtieris, originally a medieval fortress, which became a noble residence in the 16th century. The palace houses the small Museum of Hand Embroidery and Lace in the courtyard: two rooms full of lace and precious embroideries from the nineteenth century to the second postwar period, coal-fired irons, embroidery tools and antique looms.

Campanile, Castrignano Dei Greci

The toponym may derive from the Latin word “castrum”. In fact, with the Roman conquest of the Salento peninsula, which ended around 260 BC, the Romans established a military camp (Praesidium Castrinianum). Another hypothesis would derive the name from Castrinius, the Roman centurion to whom the territory was entrusted. The etymology could also lead to the Greek word Κάστρον (Kástron) which means castle.

If you don’t know where to sleep in Salento, here you will find some useful advice.

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Holiday luxury villas -> www.villesalento.it

email -> info@villesalento.it

Mobile Phones -> (+39) 366/2604050 – (+39) 392/0202233

Discovering Grecìa Salentina: Melpignano

5 Giu
Augustinian Convent, Melpignano

Located about 26 km south of Lecce, Melpignano is a town of just over 2 thousand inhabitants and belongs to the historic region of Grecìa Salentina, a linguistic island of nine municipalities where griko is spoken, an ancient language of Greek origin.

A walk in the scenic Piazza San Giorgio, with the Mother Church and the arcades, will make you relive the atmosphere of the past when an important market was held there in the 1500s. The village is famous above all for the Concertone La Notte della Taranta, which takes place every year at the end of August in the square in front of the Augustinian Convent, a jewel of late 18th century Baroque architecture.

menhir, Melpignano

Few people know that the town is also rich in Virgilian mottos engraved on the ancient portals. To visit the Historical Museum of Tarantism, the first in the world inaugurated in 2020 inside the Marchesale Palace with historic garden: a hundred works, some very rare, including books, engravings and objects.

There are several hypotheses that lead back to the origin of the name: it could derive from the Latin personal name “Melpinius” with the addition of the suffix “anus” (praedium Melpinianus was the land of Melpinius) or from the name of the muse “Melpomene“. Some hypotheses risk the derivation from the word honey, whose production was in the past a significant profitable source.

If you don’t know where to sleep in Salento, here you will find some useful advice.

holiday houses -> www.casesalento.com

Holiday luxury villas -> www.villesalento.it

email -> info@villesalento.it

Mobile Phones -> (+39) 366/2604050 – (+39) 392/0202233

Discovering Grecìa Salentina: Corigliano D’Otranto

29 Mag
Corigliano d'Otranto

An elegant village about 20 km south of Lecce, Corigliano D’Otranto is famous for its historic center dotted with buildings adorned with precious embroidery, courtyards and gardens. The village is located in the heart of Salento, just 15 km from the Adriatic coast (Otranto).

Worthy of note is the Arco Lucchetti in vico Freddo, a lace with oriental decorations and religious symbolism, while the flagship is the majestic Castello De ‘Monti, also renamed Castello Volante, born in the 11th century, an important fortress in the 16th century, with a square plan with 4 powerful circular towers and a large moat. Its spaces, from the ancient stables to the terraces, are revived today thanks to the numerous exhibitions, reviews, concerts and shows.

Castello De' Monti, Corigliano d'Otranto

Wrongly made to derive from the word “heart”, the name of the village comes from Corelius, the centurion to whom the territory would have been assigned in Roman times.

The territory was inhabited by protohistoric civilizations, testified by the megalithic remains of dolmens and menhirs. The foundation of the town is uncertain and could date back to the period of Magna Graecia, the Roman period or even the pre-Roman period with the Messapi. The urban fabric of the historic center remains from the Roman period.

Corigliano d'Otranto

The Basilian monastery of San Giorgio, built in the 9th century and in which a school of Greek language and Byzantine culture was active, contributed to the development of the small town, which left numerous Greek codes, now kept in important libraries.

If you don’t know where to sleep in Salento, here you will find some useful advice.

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Holiday luxury villas -> www.villesalento.it

email -> info@villesalento.it

Mobile Phones -> (+39) 366/2604050 – (+39) 392/0202233

A tour among the castles of Salento: Gallipoli

22 Mag
Castle of Gallipoli, Salento

Almost completely surrounded by the sea, the Angevin Castle of Gallipoli stands with its imposing bulk at the eastern end of the island that houses the ancient village. Probably built as early as the 11th century on pre-existing Roman fortifications, it was rebuilt in the 13th century in the Byzantine era.

It was remodeled several times by the conquerors who followed one another over the centuries. Positioned to guard the city and the port, once a crossroads of thriving trade, the manor has a quadrangular plan with three circular towers and a polygonal tower.

Castle of Gallipoli, Salento

HISTORY – Built after 265 BC as a fortress for housing the legionaries and defense for the city, the Castle was destroyed or seriously damaged in the 5th century by the Vandals and the Goths. Between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, under the dominions of the Angevins and the Aragonese, it was subject to substantial changes: it was isolated by a moat on all sides and, in 1522, the corner tower was built, called the Rivellino, in the past also outdoor summer cinema.

Designed by the Sienese architect Francesco di Giorgio Martini, who worked on behalf of Alfonso II of Naples, it was built to defend the entrance way to the city and to prevent a fixed camp for any enemies who attacked from the ground. Currently, the recently restored spaces of the fortress vibrate like the whole Gallipoli village, hosting cultural events and large exhibitions.

If you don’t know where to sleep in Salento, here you will find some useful advice.

holiday houses -> www.casesalento.com

Holiday luxury villas -> www.villesalento.it

email -> info@villesalento.it

Mobile Phones -> (+39) 366/2604050 – (+39) 392/0202233

A tour among the castles of Salento: Corigliano D’Otranto

15 Mag

One of the most beautiful examples of military architecture in the Renaissance period, the Castle of Corigliano d’Otranto marks the transition from medieval square towers to the typical round ones of the 16th century.

The facade is a Baroque triumph with decorative shelves and anthropomorphic figures. The statues, placed inside niches, represent virtues and personalities of the time, while the by now indecipherable mottos of Andrea Peschiulli triumph on the architraves.

HISTORY – In the 16th century, on a pre-existing 15th century building, Giovan Battista delli Monti made important changes aimed at the military fortification. At the end of the Delli Monti family, the castle passed to the Trani family who, in 1667, transformed it into a ducal palace thanks to the structural and decorative interventions of the architect Francesco Manuli.

The Castello de ’Monti in Corigliano d’Otranto, also known by the name of Castello Volante, thus reveals the transition from a medieval fortress to a ducal residence.

The manor, inside, nowaday houses a library, a tourist information point, a bookshop and a bar and it is home to cultural initiatives such as temporary exhibitions, musical reviews and live performances.

If you don’t know where to sleep in Salento, here you will find some useful advice.

holiday houses -> www.casesalento.com

Holiday luxury villas -> www.villesalento.it

email -> info@villesalento.it

Mobile Phones -> (+39) 366/2604050 – (+39) 392/0202233

A tour among the castles of Salento: Acaya

8 Mag

The castle of Acaya is emblem of the small fortified citadel just 8 km from Lecce and a precious testimony of feudalism in Salento. Built in 1506 by the knight Alfonso d’Acaya, the manor is one of the best examples of Renaissance defensive architecture in Terra D’Otranto.

The fortress, with a trapezoidal plan, is accessible via a single bridge. The fortified walls are reinforced by two circular towers. A staircase leads to the upper floor and to the rooms, including the bastion room, which houses a painting depicting the coat of arms of the Spanish kings, and a room embellished with a Lecce stone frieze inspired by the classical style.

Of great beauty is the 14th century fresco of the Dormitio Virginis that can be admired in the courtyard and the Ennagonal Room inside. Today, the castle is home to exhibitions and events.

THE VILLAGE – Originally called Segine, the small village, embraced by walls and a large moat, is located near Vernole and owes its name to the famous Acaya family who built the entire complex giving it the appearance of a fortified village and placing him at the head of his possessions.

If you don’t know where to sleep in Salento, here you will find some useful advice.

holiday houses -> www.casesalento.com

Holiday luxury villas -> www.villesalento.it

email -> info@villesalento.it

Mobile Phones -> (+39) 366/2604050 – (+39) 392/0202233

A tour among the castles of Salento: Otranto

1 Mag

An important crossroads between West and East, the castle of Otranto is closely related to the city walls with which it forms a single defensive system.

The Aragonese castle bears the name of the family that took care of the reconstruction after the attack by the Turks in 1480. It was, in fact, under the Duke Alfonso D’Aragona that in 1481 the castle was completely recovered. However, from the Aragonese phase only a tower and part of the walls remain.

The current appearance of the manor is due to the Spanish viceroys, who made it a real masterpiece of military architecture: extraordinary defense works were implemented in 1535 by Don Pedro of Toledo, of which the coat of arms on the entrance portal and on the outer curtain. The two polygonal bastions added in 1578 on the side facing the sea, incorporated the pre-existing Aragonese bastion.

Today the fort has a pentagonal plan, surrounded by a large moat and marked by four towers: three circular in carparo and one with the tip reaching towards the sea; on the fifth side, uncovered, the drawbridge opens up. Beautiful to visit, the castle is currently the site of temporary and permanent art exhibitions on local history and on the Grotta dei Cervi of great cultural importance.

CURIOSITY – The castle gave its name to the first Gothic novel in history, “The castle of Otranto”, written by Horace Walpole in 1764.

If you don’t know where to sleep in Salento, here you will find some useful advice.

holiday houses -> www.casesalento.com

Holiday luxury villas -> www.villesalento.it

email -> info@villesalento.it

Mobile Phones -> (+39) 366/2604050 – (+39) 392/0202233

The Apulian Romanesque: discovering the Nordic testimonies in Salento

24 Apr

Traces of Nordic architecture can also be found unexpectedly in the deep South of Salento: it is the Apulian Romanesque, an artistic style that developed between the 11th century and the first half of the 13th century. Below, let’s take a short tour of the examples of excellence: the Cathedral of Otranto, the Basilica of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria in Galatina and the Abbey of Santa Maria in Cerrate.

The typical characters of Northern European art (France, Germany, Normandy) reworked with elements of Byzantine and Arab art give rise to an original and unprecedented result which is the so-called Apulian Romanesque. The Nordic, and in particular Norman, imprint in these areas is due to the frequentation of the Apulian ports by pilgrims headed to the Holy Land and which were also the starting point for many participants in the First Crusade in 1090.

The cathedral of Otranto

An important example of Apulian Romanesque is the cathedral of Santa Maria Annunziata, built on the remains of a Roman domus, a Messapian village and an early Christian temple. It was founded in 1068 by the Norman bishop Guglielmo and consecrated to worship in 1088. Inside it preserves an important floor mosaic made between 1163 and 1166 by the Basilian monk Pantaleone.

In August 1480, the cathedral was the scene of a terrible carnage: the Turks stormed the city after a few days of siege and entered the church exterminating the clergy and civilians who had taken refuge there, whose remains are still preserved in the crypt. It was transformed into a mosque and all the frescoes dating back to the 13th century were destroyed.

The abbey of Santa Maria di Cerrate

Located on the Squinzano-Casalabate provincial road, it is one of the most significant examples of Apulian Romanesque. According to legend, the abbey was founded at the end of the 12th century by Tancredi d’Altavilla, count of Lecce, when in this place, during a hunting trip, the Madonna appeared in Tancredi between the horns of a deer, hence the toponym Cerrate or Cervate.

The locality was an important religious and cultural center until the sixteenth century and subsequently transformed into a farm. In 1711 the abbey was sacked by Turkish pirates and fell into a state of neglect, which continued until the 1965 restoration by the Province of Lecce. The complex remained the property of the local authority until 2012, the year in which it passed to the Fondo Ambiente Italiano.

The Basilica of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria in Galatina

It is one of the most famous monuments of Apulian Romanesque and Gothic art and was built between 1369 and 1391, by the will of Raimondello Orsini del Balzo. The latter, in one of his numerous journeys, returning from the Crusades, went as far as the summit of Mount Sinai to pay homage to the body of Saint Catherine; according to legend, when she left, he kissed the hand of her Saint, tearing her finger with his teeth. Back in Italy he took the relic with him which, set in a silver reliquary, is still kept in the church treasury. The building, on Raimondello’s death in 1405, will be completed by his wife, Princess Maria d’Enghien, and then by his son, Giovanni Antonio Orsini Del Balzo.

The building was built on a pre-existing Byzantine church of the Greek rite dating back to the IX-X century whose traces are clearly visible in the outer wall of the right aisle in which the apse was incorporated, perhaps to save building material. The pictorial decoration is of great artistic importance: the interior, in fact, was completely frescoed towards the end of the fourteenth century by local workers, covering some parts of the oldest fragments.

If you don’t know where to sleep in Salento, here you will find some useful advice.

holiday houses -> www.casesalento.com

Holiday luxury villas -> www.villesalento.it

email -> info@villesalento.it

Mobile Phones -> (+39) 366/2604050 – (+39) 392/0202233

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