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.
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.
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