The millenary magic that surrounds us, the strong sense of belonging to this civilisation, to Puglia and Salento …
THE COASTAL TOWERS: MUTE SEA SENTINELS
The entire Salentine coastline is scattered by sentry towers, which, in the 16th century, represented the defence line against the attacks of Turks and Saracens. Three sentries inhabited each tower and they were responsible for launching alarms with torches and bells. Horsemen were responsible for riding towards inland towns and castles and warning them of imminent danger. Starting from the North and moving down the Ionian coast, the following towers are easily reached from Vivosa Apulia Resort:
Torre Squillace – a square base tower with a truncated pyramid shape.
Torre Quattro Colonne – also a square base tower with a truncated pyramid shape, it has four corner bastions that were once used for cannons.
Torre San Giovanni – the only tower with an octagonal base, it is now a lighthouse owned by the Italian Navy.
Torre Mozza – this partly collapsed tower is cone-shaped.
Torre Pali – a cylindrical tower that is partly immersed in water.
Torre Vado – a two-floor tower with a circular base.
UGENTO AND ITS SURROUNDINGS
The beauty of Salento shines in the historical centres of its various small towns and the surrounding countryside which plunge into the breathtaking coastline. Ugento, for example, means “shiny, bright” and is a Messapic city laden with history that includes many sights worth visiting during your stay in Salento.
Torre San Giovanni was once an important trade hub that provided goods to all the Messapic cities in the area. Today, the tower, which gives the town its name, is painted in checkers and serves as a lighthouse. Its northern coastline is mainly rocky, whilst south of its port it turns into an infinite white beach separating the turquoise sea from the green pine grove behind it. Further south, Torre Mozza is a small town right on the beach. Once a bishopric of Gemini, it too is named after the fallen 16th century tower at its heart. Lido Marini, instead, is a relatively modern town with a beautiful fine, white sand beach and aquamarine coloured sea.
HYPOGEAN OIL PRESSES
The underground in Salento is full of oil mills, carved right into the bedrock, that were used to produce oil. These unusual locations are the result of the new economy that, in the 9th century, saw the production of olive oil overtake that of wheat farming. Thus, the oil presses were built in the old Messapic wheat silos.
Presicce was known as the “underground city” for the large number of hypogean oil mills in the area, almost thirty, which produced oil that was traded throughout Europe. Other oil production centres included Morciano di Leuca with about 20 mills and Sternatia with 19, although the only one which can still be visited is in Porta Filia. In Noha (Galatina), there is a 300 square-metre mill right in front of the gates to the Castle. The dome of the hypogean mill is covered in stalactites. In Vernole, the sixteenth century Caffa Mill lies under Piazza Vittorio Veneto and, in Gallipoli, there is an oil mill underneath the Palazzo Granafei dating back to 1600 that can also be visited.
One can also learn about Puglia through its produce – grapes and wine, olives and oil and the intense yellow of its wheat – all of which have been cultivated since antiquity. It’s a journey through time and the five senses.