The landscapes of Serre Salentine: a journey of emotions between land and sea
Alezio, Alliste, Casarano, Collepasso, Galatone, Gallipoli, Matino, Melissano, Neviano, Parabita, Racale, Sannicola, Taviano andTuglie; fourteen municipalities that paint a unique and enchanting landscape, in a blaze of colours and lights, fragrances and flavours!
From the inland area to the sea, among wide expanses of olive groves and vineyards, we rediscover the charm, warmth and authenticity of these places: villages of ancient origin with typical country houses built around a courtyard, aristocratic mansions, eclectic villas, gardens, farms and coastal towers dot the Mediterranean scrubland, the soft hills and the low cliffs gently sloping towards the clear waters of the Ionian Sea.
A journey into nature to rediscover the history, the tradition, the wine and food, the ancient crafts and rituals that characterize this area.
A corner of land of overwhelming beauty, in which the landscape of stone dominates: white rock emerging from the sea, the stone wall terracing, and the characteristic small walls and dry stone buildings (caseddhi and pajare), once used as temporary shelter or places where to keep animals and agricultural tools. In the urban areas, we find the stone of the ancient oil and wine production installations (underground oil mills and “palmenti”, wine making plants), and the golden stone of secular and religious buildings, symbol of secular and ecclesiastical feudal power and rich landed estates.
The eyes gaze at wonder upon wonder, in a unique and unforgettable sensorial experience! An enchanting panorama marked by the Serre hills of Altolido, Castelforte, Sant’Eleuterio and Calaturo, by the natural furrows of Asso Canal, Cellini Lake at Melissano and the Litorale di Punta Pizzo and Island of Sant'Andrea Natural Regional Park at Gallipoli. This land is the custodian of a very ancient history, whose traces we can see in the Messapic necropolis at Alezio, the rock carvings of the Crypt of the Crucifix at Casarano, the Cave of the Venuses at Parabita, the menhir of Tuglie and Galatone and the magnificent medieval abbeys.
In the Serre Salentine landscape, the sandy coastline alternates with humid and marshy areas, ancient flax retting sites dense with reed thickets. Still today, rushes are harvested for the work of expert craftsmen who make "nasse", intricately weaved baskets requiring extraordinary manual ability and used for fishing.
Both in the vitality of the historical towns and in the rural quiet, the land reveals signs of an ancient religiosity: chapels and votive tabernacles, churches and shrines, monasteries and abbeys here become expression of an intense and shared popular devotion, in which faith and spirituality reveal the deep connection between land and sea. The liturgical calendar merges with the agricultural one in a true sacred journey; church holidays, processions, artistic nativities, living nativities, Holy Week rites, fairs and local festivals (like the lighting of the Focara - a bonfire - in honour of St. Anthony of Padua, in Collepasso) seem to mark the slow turning of seasons and of life.
Religious buildings, castles and noble residences overlook the public squares; between winding alleys, art and history come together in unique scenic effects: the D'Aquino Palace in Casarano, the Tafuri Palace in Alezio (now seat of the Messapic Civic Museum, the Library and the Municipal Historical Archive) and the Del Tufo Palace in Matino, with its frescoed stables, are examples of a refined and elegant taste, worthy of learned clients abreast of artistic trends. There are impressive castles, such those of Galatone, Gallipoli, Parabita and Racale, local defensive bulwarks, together with the 16th-century coastal towers.
The imposing farms, converted in recent years into agritourism, agri-food and artisanal facilities, dominate the rural landscape (Masseria Carignani at Tuglie, Masseria Mosca at Sannicola), giving new impetus to the age-old agricultural soul of the communities. Traditional as well as innovative, current wine, oil, orchard, dairy and fruit and vegetable productions and nurseries have entrusted their memories to the Wine Museum of Parabita, the Flower Market of Taviano and the Li Curti oil mill at Melissano.
The products have retained the authenticity of the past: fine wines, extra virgin olive oil, baked products (the traditional frise), local gastronomy (scapece gallipolina), fruit (Galatone apricots and the piattello orange of Alezio), sweets (bocconotto of Gallipoli, spumone).
Next to gastronomy, the wood, paper mache and terracotta workshops boast a vast artistic production, where one can rediscover the authentic Salento artisanal tradition: from wood sculptures to fine furniture, from paper mache sacred art figurines to glazed ceramics, from the typical terracotta housewives to slab built "grandma's little dolls".
The accommodation offer is also extremely rich and varied: holiday farmhouses, historical homes, hotels, B&Bs, villages and holidays homes meet the needs of all those who love nature, the sea, culture and local products.
Serre Salentine... A journey of emotions