Infrastructure and architecture

The infrastructure of Salento is very ancient and goes back to very early ages, as they were mainly founded by the Messapians, which is the case in the settlement Rudiae near Cavallino, in the south of Lecce, and also in the towns of Tricase, Vaste and Soleto. Many villages were built on the transport routes of the Messapians, Greeks and Romans, which connected the coast to the rest of the region and led up north. The landscape is divided into parcels by walls of dry stone, built with stones buried out of the fields. The furnieddhi or furni, simple, conic stone buildings similar to the trulli (from Greek τρούλλοι) in the middle of Apulia, were used as a shelter by the local farmers. In architecture, the use of the regionís tuff, gained from various parts of Salento, the so called pietra leccese, was used, giving a characteristic look to the buildings. People were inspired by melting different styles, Oriental and Occidental, Byzantine and Sarazentine, Western and Spanish.

In Lecce, one can access to the old part of the town by the ancient gates of Porta San Biagio and Porta Napoli, and admire the various baroque ornaments on the buildings. After the 17th century and the contra reformation movement, churches were adorned in the rich baroque style. In 1545, the Pope had authorised the dissolution of the Orthodox church by the council of Trento. Between the 17th and the 18th century, many churches were renovated and extended by the Aragonese emperors, the dates can still be found as inscriptions. The baroque pomp, representing the wealth and glamour of the Catholic church was used in order to impress the former Orthodox believers.

In the area between Gallipoli and Otranto, one can find the so called case a corte, a house with a yard which can be entered by a gate. This architecture can be equally found in Albania and Greece (μέγαρον). The Avli (η αυλή) or cortile in its interior was the center of family life. The Migniani, the bay, is another Balcanian element, which allow a view to the narrow alley.

31.03.2005 / Translated from italian by Giorgia Guarini

Images taken from the book:
Grecia Salentina: Arte, Cultura e Territorio; Congedo Editore