PIC INTERREG IIIA Greece - Italy 2000-2006 Axis 3.2 Project Code I3201060.


Third itinerary: from Gagliano del Capo to Melpignano

The Tabacchificio (tobacco processing plant) in Gagliano del Capo, built in the Fascist period, has been converted into a resort. Originally, the various rooms were used for the distinct phases of tobacco processing: pressing, drying and packing; there was even a room for working mothers, in which they could care for their children. Currently these rooms contain photographs showing local beauty spots and the traditions of the Salento.
The International Marian Museum of Contemporary Art (M.I.M.A.C.) in Alessano, set up by the Don Tonino Bello Foundation, is unique in Italy. This extraordinary priest, president of Pax Christi and born in Alessano, was particularly attached to the Virgin Mary, faithful companion of his life. In this place, in which the Virgin Mary is the “Inspirational Muse”, the beauty of her many faces becomes the light of hope and peace. Indeed, Don Tonino said that art and beauty could still save the world.
The town of Tricase was once the nerve centre of the tobacco industry, employing mainly female labour. The order to transfer production to Lecce sparked a revolt in May 1935 that was violently put down, with the death of five people, including three female tobacco workers. In 1938 the Azienda Cooperativa Agricola Industriale del Capo di Leuca, the cooperative better known as ACAIT, was set up in this factory.
In the workshop of the Solazzo sisters in Surano, traditional manufacturing is combined with research into ancient fabrics (especially from the 19th century). A modification was made to the traditional embroidery technique known as the “fiocco leccese”, creating the so-called “fiocco di Surano”, thus identifying a textile production process with its place of origin. Although the business has cut personnel and production, the new management has sought to keep the ancient tradition alive.
The Museum of the frescoes of S. Maria degli Angeli in Poggiardo is an example of rupestrian culture, particularly widespread in the area of Otranto. The Museum contains the frescoes taken from the crypt, located a short distance away, and provides some of the most significant evidence of the cultural mixing of eastern and western Christianity, of which Marian art is a manifestation.
In Casamassella craft weaving is still an extremely important economic sector. The foundation of Le Costantine is the result of the tenacity and hard work of the women of the Starace family and is currently one of the few places in the Salento where weaving takes place on traditional wooden craft looms. The symbol of this workshop is the bisaccia, the traditional saddle-bags that the peasants used to carry supplies and farming tools. Traditionally, it was the first item that women made to give to their betrothed husbands. The Menhir of St. Paul in Giurdignano is possibly connected to the ritual of tarantismo. The site may have had a religious function analogous to that of the Cappella di San Paolo in Galatina, where women went on the 29th June to ask the saint for forgiveness and protection from tarantismo.
In Otranto, during the Turkish siege, the Cathedral was sacked and converted into a mosque. To remove the signs of Christianity, the walls were completely painted over. It is said that the image of the Virgin Mary with Child in the crypt was only spared because it became invisible to the eyes of the Turks.
The focus on creativity is at the heart of the “Rufino s.r.l.” company in Otranto which started out by performing work outsourced by other companies, and now has three lines of products that carry its own brands, with consolidated market experience. The attention to quality is seen in the constant search for new embroidery, prints and materials, and in the decision to sell only through carefully selected stores in commercially strategic areas. The owner is an example of female courage and tenacity.
The Notte della Taranta (the night of the Taranta) in Melpignano is a musical event that grew from the idea of renewing the traditional music of the Salento by “contaminating” it with other musical cultures to create and try out new sounds. It is a form of neo-tarantismo, whose meaning seems to be linked to the desire for music, dance and liberation. In this way, music and dance become a single instrument for entertaining and bringing people together. The broad space in front of the Chiesa del Carmine and Convento degli Agostiniani is filled with tens of thousands of tourists. The “tarantismo” of yesterday has become the extraordinary musical event of today.


Community Initiative INTERREG III 2000-2006


PIC INTERREG IIIA Greece - Italy 2000-2006 Axis 3.2 Project Code I3201060

Co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund