Salento : up-country on the Baroque route

Guide of Lecce and Salento Itineraries Salento : up-country on the Baroque route, Italy

Lecce and Salento Salento : Up-Country On The Baroque Route, Italy

This itinerary brings us to an exploration of a less familiar Salento, but no less fascinating. This is an inland route of the Salento, along the Baroque road leading into the heart of Grecìa, that particular area of the Salento that maintains the language, culture and traditions of its Greek origin.

The route: leaving Lecce we head southwest, on State highway 101 in the direction of Gallipoli, and following the signs, we arrive at the first stop: Copertino.


First the Normans then the Swabians and Angioins left in Copertino one of the most beautiful and strongest castles of the Salento. Around the square walls are four battlement towers, typical of the Spanish defense system.

The Renaissance entry gate is admirable for its decorations and leads to the chapels of Santa Maria Maddalena and of San Marco inside.


This small town is a true Baroque jewel within Piazza Calandra, characterized by Baroque and rococo monuments of imposing beauty, dating from between the 16th and the 18th centuries. At the center of the piazza is the Guglia della Immacolata, built after the earthquake of 1743 as the people's expression of gratitude for their escape from destruction. In addition to piazza Calandra, the Baroque church of S. Domenico and the Cathedral are worth a visit.

The Art-Nouveau villas: in Cenate, along the road that leads from Nardò to the coast, one may admire a large concentraction of villas built between the 19th and 20th century in the most eclectic liberty style. They range from the Renaissance to Art Nouveau, Moorish, Palladian, and colonial.


The attraction of this small town is a Baroque masterpiece by Giuseppe Zimbalo: the Sanctuary of Crocefisso della Pietà. The church has a monumental facade with rococo decorations. The inside is sumptuous and dazzling, with exquisite decorations such as the wooden ceiling, the frescoed octagonal cupola with the statue of the elders of the church, the many wall hangings, and the elegant altars.


A beautiful small town of extremely ancient origins, it offers the visitor many churches and Baroque palazzos dating back to the 17th century.

The major attraction of Galatina is the church Santa Caterina d'Alessandria: the simple facade in Romanesque style hides the inner majesty that is the true marvel of this church. The walls and the ceilings are entirely covered by 15th century frescoes, that remind one of those in the Basilica di San Francesco, in Assisi.

Grecìa Salentina

Nine municipalities jealously maintain the traces of a very ancient culture: the Griko.The Griko language probably dates back to the time of the Byzantine dominion, between the 8th and 10th century, when, evidently, populations of Greek origin settled in the Salento.

Corigliano d'Otranto

The most important monument is the powerful Castello de' Monti, believed to have built beginning in the 14th century. The defensive architecture has a square floor plan with four towers on the corners and a moat around the inside. In the 17th century, the Baroque facade was added, decorated with niches and statues that represent the virtues and some "celebrities" of the era. The castle hosts the interesting Multimedial Museum of the Grecìa Salentina.
Visiting schedule for the Castle: from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day


Do not miss the Convento degli Agostiniani (outside the village): the most important Baroque monument of the Salento outside Lecce. It was built in the second half of the 16th century, as part of a network of convents the Roman Church wanted to impose its presence in an area with strong Greco-Byzantine influence.

Melpignano is famous for hosting the final evening of the "Notte della Taranta" every August, the largest festival dedicated to revival of the "pizzica" music. On this night, the Piazza of the former convent of the Agostiniani is packed with a hundred thousand people moving to the frantic rhythms of the pizzica.


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