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The borbonic superintendent's itinerary in Terra d'Otranto (19th Century)

 
It was in the Spring of 1818, that the Marquis Giuseppe Ceva Grimaldi left Naples for his journey around the “Terra d’Otranto. I t would be a long journey that would take him through forests and past seas, going across enormous fields of wheat and grain, like giant chessboards, travelling across “la Terra di Bari and all of the “Terra d’Otranto, in order to reach Leuca, known by the Romans as finibus terrae (Lands End). 
The same route can still be seen arriving from the North along the two most important roads which take you to Puglia; the A16 which passes by “l’Irpinia, or the A14 which crosses the “Tavoliere”, arriving in Capitanata, follow in the tracks of Ceva grimaldi, thanks to the observations made of his trip, Itinerario da Napoli a Lecce e nella provincia di Terra d’Otranto.

Terra d’Otranto

TERRA D'OTRANTO

The Neapolitan nobleman, was an official of the reign and a man of great culture was sent to the Terra d’Otranto for political reasons. Fiduciary of the House of Bourbon, he was nominated Expert of the province, with the delicate task of soothing the violent actions between groups of the Carbonari ( a secret society) and Briganti (bandits).
In crossing the borders between Campania and Puglia Ceva Grimaldi crossed the bridge of Bovino, between woods that were believed to be
:
 
for along time our Black Forest […] places loved by bandits and thieves […] today, however-added-these places are completely safe and tranquil, the heads of sixteen bandits were closed in iron cages on both sides of the bridge.

ponte di bovino

THE BRIDGE OF BOVINO

Today Bovino no longer has these macabre heads hanging from cages at the bridge , but the town is easily accessible by car or by the regional trains which stop at the station of Bovino-Delicato, which is an attractive town, foundered by the Dauni and then passed into the hands of the Romans who gave it the name Vibium,already attested to by Plinio and Polibio. Bovino is known as the village of the eight hundred stone portals, the plan of the oldest part of the village has a winding labyrinth of tiny and narrow streets, but visiting them is a surprising discovery, numerous proofs to its involvement to historical events including those of the Byzantines. Long bards, Normans, Svevi,and the Angioini.  

bovino, castello

THE CASTLE OF BOVINO

The Marquis Giuseppe Ceva Grimaldi cheered up when he began to head towards Foggia, and on crossing the bridge of Bovino and the one of Mount Calvello on discovering a magnificent point of view his eye had glimpsed at the immense plain of Puglia which stretched from Mount S. Angelo to the Adriatic.
Mount S.Angelo is situated at a height of 843 m above sea level, and is the host to the sanctuary of S.Michele, situated in a grotto where in the 5th century it was said that an Archangel appeared to a shepherd. The road leading to the village and to the sanctuary is a difficult one as it is very narrow and winding, but the white rocks of the mountain soon come into view to the traveller, as it constitutes one of the peaks of the headlands of the Gargano. The sanctuary is marked both by its octagonal shaped bell tower and its gothic portal, half of which dates back to the third century, the other is an eighteenth century copy, after being ruined by time and the elements.
The landscape is spectacular, its atmosphere has enchanted pilgrims and visitors of all ages:
 
medieval part of the hamlet is very well preserved and one can admire the stone houses, each side by side. Also the local cuisine leaves one completely satisfied, for its use of local cereals and garden products, for its bread and its typical sweets made with almonds and wafers.

monte sant’angelo castello

MOUNT S.ANGELO, THE CASTLE

After the Gargano the first city to see is Foggia:
 
Foggia sits like a queen in the middle of this vast plain, to the left is S.Severo and then Lucera, to the right follows the woods of Delicato, S.Agata, Ascoli and at the bottom the River Ofanto. Foggia is completely open and its roads are wide.
The Marquis seemed to be favourably impressed by the inhabitants of the city so much so that he said of them that they love the pleasures of life […] but do not abandon their businesses, the pastures and the agriculture. It is not a rare thing to see in the same courtyard an elegant carriage pulled by two superb horses side by side with a cart pulled by three strong mules transporting things from the nearby fields.

Foggia

MAP OF FOGGIA

Foggia, Veduta della villa

FOGGIA, VIEW OF THE PLACE

Lucera and San Severo are places filled with a glorious history, dating back to Roman times are about 25 km from Foggia. Lucera is surrounded by a wall and gives an imposing impression due to its 15 square shaped towers and two other circular shaped ones, known as the lion and the lioness. San Severo is the city of bell towers, in olden times known as Castel Drione, they are two perfect places in which to stay for a day or two in order to enjoy the other things the countryside has on offer, by taking walks and cycle rides, along the small roads, which wind their way into the surrounding countryside.

lucera, anfiteatro

LUCERA, THE ANPHITHEATRE

san severo

S.SEVERO

 
Ceva Grimaldi was highly sensitive to the changes in landscape, and this was marked by a great change when he came close to the bridge over the Ofanto, he wrote:
 
Nearing Barletta (…) the cultivation of the land is changing and it seems to be like a scene in the theatre. The immense plain of Puglia is completely naked of trees, consecrated by the most fertile of settings, or of pastures, succeeded by olive groves and gardens, of which are so welcoming to the provinces of Bari and d’Otranto. 
 
If you wish to elaborate further this itinerary you can follow the flow of the river Ofanto, so step by step, you have the possibility of visiting the places that have showed hospitality since the beginning of man, starting with the hypogeum meeting of Trinitapoli, in the province of Foggia, and passing through the Greek and Latin remains of the city of Canosa , reaching the Romanesque cathedrals of Canne della battaglia and Bari.

Canosa, Chiesa di s.sabino

CANOSA, CHURCH OF S.SABINO

CANNE

CANNE DELLA BATTAGLIA

Bari, Sotterraneo di S. Nicola

BARI, CRYPT OF THE BASILICA OF S.NICOLA
In July the people of Barletta relive the “Disfida” with an interesting and colourful pageant. It all happened as far back as 1501, when the Italians faced the French and the Spanish, led by Ettore Fieramosca. Beginning with reading of the “Lettura del Cartello" and ending with the investiture of the Cavalry, it takes place at Certame Cavalleresco amongst picturesque crests, helmets, armour, saddlecloths, pomp and ceremony, it certainly is a living picture of an historical event true to what really happened.
Ceva Grimaldi, instead stopped to looked at the city’s port, noted in history because the first crusades left from there, and for the powerful armed float of the Angionini.
The port of Barletta is charming and equal to that of the port of Naples, the port is known as the sea port and is one of the beautiful works of the reign of Charles III, and from the port one can see the city, which extends towards the left and the Gulf of Manfredonia, the Gargano meets with Barletta which seems to be completely surrounded by the sea, the Diomede islands are hidden from view by the mountain.
 
Its easy for today’s travellers (with a ferry from Termoli or by helicopter from…) to reach the islands of Tremite, the Diomedee with its old monastery, green pines which come right down to the sea, and listen to the intense songs of the cicadas , especially if you chose not to travel in the summer you can enjoy the charming seaside villages, which return to their original aspect in the winter.

isole tremiti

THE TREMITI ISLANDS 
 

The journey of the Bourbon Expert, continued leaving behind the Tremiti, towards Trani: 
 
Trani is one of the friendliest city’s of Puglia and is on the shores of the Adriatic, six miles from Barletta, the road from Barletta to Trani is charming, straight on to Andria, then Canosa that Orazio is convinced was foundered by the Diomede.
Trani is well built. Its inhabitants are kind, they love to dance and performing, several years ago a fire destroyed their theatre, but soon after they built another even more beautiful.
It began to become well known in the 13th century, on the occasion of the crusades for the convenience of its port. The Templars had a hospital, and business between the Levant’s and the Italians created their wealth, The Jews, were those who were also to grow rich, they became established, and remained until the times of the Aragon’s, and under the Angionini, Trani had an arsenal and supplied two galleys.
To the modern traveller (it is possible to see the beautiful Romanesque church still in existence from the time of the Templars)Trani is still able to involve people both locals and foreigners in the century’s old stories, it has a noble and majestic appearance, it is a must to visit the historical centre and the white Cathedral, unique and charming in its seafront position, a master piece of Romanesque art.
Next to the cathedral is the Frederickan castle, with its typical square shaped form and its enormous central courtyard, where you can read the traces of a long ago history. Apart from the age old charm its position on the sea front, giving the centre an anchorage, which makes it highly unique and gives an outpost for those arriving by sea.

trani, cattedrale

TRANI, THE CATHEDRAL

The port of Trani was and still is a fascinating place, so much so that the Marquis described it has a small like gulf of the sea shaped almost like an iron horse, with an area of about 135,000 square metres of water and with a well known dockyard, renown for its sea traffic. So when walking at sunset the clear waters seem to be pink and spectacular, with its lively comings and goings in Via degli Statui Marittimi, small restaurants on the sea, the beautiful and old bookshop La Maria del porto, which organises every autumn, dialogues in the local dialect “tranesi”, meetings and debates between writers and philosophers on books about the peoples and the Mediterranean area.. Also to take into consideration is that during the month of August there is a Catamaran that leaves Trani for Dubrovnik, where in only a few hours you can be on the splendid opposite shores of the Adriatic. It is for these attractions that we would like to make a suggestion of hiring a car, because in only half an hour you can reach Trebinje, in Erzegovina, a lively place with Turkish and Austrian Hungarian influences, in the hills which is completely unspoilt, kind of seventeenth century Switzerland.

Trebinje

TREBINJE

For those who are perhaps more interested in gastronomy and wine then in Puglia you can experience the happy meeting between the land and the sea, in an atmosphere which has always exalted a Mediterranean triad of vines, of oil,and cereals. One can not help but mention the many vineyards, which are highly successful in the production of local wines, considered the most noble and the oldest in Puglia. The Moscato di Trani, is a “vino Doc” and is locally produced in a vast area situated in and around the place taking a total of 11 localities. Moscato is a sweet wine which is best used to accompany the typical regional sweets above all the delicious almond pastries and biscuits.
Going along the coast road the SS16 bis, known as the Adriatica, which continues South until it reaches Bari, the modern traveller who wishes to follow in the footsteps of the Marquis Ceva grimaldi, arrives at Bisceglie, Molfetta, and Giovinazzo, these cities are a little distance one from another, on the shores of the Adriatic, surrounded by walls and towers. Exposed to the attacks of the Saracens, defence was the first aim, to fortify in the main aim. The old hamlets of these towns are at the moment living a rebirth. In Giovinazzo between the old bastions and Romanesque churches, small squares and tangled streets, a new liveliness is taking off in the small bars, with cultural events and nightly strolls, while in contrast in the dark interiors are the houses of the rich gentlefolk, green vases, flowering with a variety of plants leaning against the characteristic “chianche” accompanying the way.

In Molfetta there is another beautiful cathedral and it is still possible to visit the l’Ospedaletto of the Crusaders, situated at the back of the splendid basilica of the Madonna dei Martiri, a completely restored building and used today for cultural events and exhibitions.

molfetta

MAP OF THE CITY OF MOLFETTA

There is also the port to admire which in the past hosted the biggest and important fishing float in the lower Adriatic, or one can have a coffee in the area around the Duomo , where one can observe the numerous interesting embarkations or the splendid sunsets on the sea. It is also possible for travellers who have an archaeological interest or an interest nature to stop near “il Pulo” a picturesque rock cavity, where a luscious vegetation can be seen. There are various opinions to why there is this cavity, in the opinion of some academics it is a calcareous grotto covered in a very compact saltpetre , for others it is a type of crater which was created thousands of years ago. All in all it is an important geological element, in the “pulo” there have been traces of the presence of man dating back to Neolithic times along with 150 different botanic species in which 12% are typical of the area.

But Molfetta is not the only place that you can visit places like this, 
Bisceglie is also host to “il Dolmen della Chianca”, very close to the town centre, this time it is a prehistoric monument, of an old cult, made up of three square shaped quadrangles of a height of approximately 1,80 m, from where thee is access to a room-“il dromos” where the remains of some sacrificed animals where found, including pots and the remains of Neanderthal man.
In Roman times in the inhabited part of Bisceglie, which was called at the time Viscile, grew a type of oak, which still is part of the towns’ coat of arms. This oak was mainly used in the constructions known as “Casali”, which were large houses built in local stone, fortified and walled with one or more courtyards, where daily life took place. It is still possible today to visit some of them in Gianao, Sagina, Zappino and San Nicola.

 bisceglie, porto

VIEW OF BISCEGLIE

 
The cultured Ceva Grimaldi in his notes often described the history of the places in which he was in transit, but,in the footsteps of Orazio and with practical experience, he kept a careful record of the abundance of fish, that he found in Bari, headquarters of Puglia, and generally all the marine life found in the Adriatic:
 
 
The origins of Bari has been lost in the fairy tales interwoven where our patria started, well before the Normans. One pretends that every type old medal that would be on a ship above which a winged little darling shoots an arrow […].
This city lies on the shores of the sea in a pleasant locality, on the roads leading to the port a new part of the city is being built. This is one of the parts most favoured for public amusement and for the natural liveliness of the people of Bari who inspire joy, the streets along the walls if they were a little wider and less broken. 
 
Bari has the unique characteristic in that it is divided into two parts, the new city. In fact the first building works of the Bourbon Expert, dating back to the first part of the 18th century under the reign of Giocchino Murat took place, and it is from him that the quarter takes its name. It is characterised by an illuminating type of urban planning in that it is subdivided geometrically , by roads and there are large isolated quadrants In the centre of these there is the presence of old gardens with citrus fruit trees. Then there is “Bari Vecchia”which contains the most important Medieval and Renaissance monuments, including the Cathedral and the Basilica of San Nicola, also the Svevo Castle. 

vaduta di bari

BARI, LUNGOMARE

Bari, La Basilica di S.Nicola

BARI, BASILICA OF S.NICOLA

The new seafront is an excellent example of rationalist architecture of the 19th century, with buildings like that of the Air force, which looks like something that has come out of metaphysics, thanks to De Chirico, added to which runs alongside the old walls, known as the “muraglie”which opening up on the left is the majestic arch of San Nicola, one of the most famous basilicas of the South.
The old part of the city, which is divided by of modern buildings, and its urban design “a dorso d’asino”( in the shape of the markings on a donkey’s back) between oval archways it looks very similar to the cities built by the Cruaders in the Middle East, also in the same way as noted by Ceva Grimaldi that even today it offers an incredible view of the sea, which is commonly known as the Muraglia. Following this path it is possible to admire from above the seafront, but also to chose a restaurant between the many available, where you can taste the local specialities.
Ceva Grimaldi, appreciated other things about Bari ( the women, especially the damsels, neat and well made, there hairstyles with ribbons intricately interwoven, very similar to those found in Greek statues), he really seemed to be immerging himself always more in to Puglia, letting himself go with great enthusiasm
:
 
The images are the most liveliest possible after describing the natural beauties of the road between Bari and Mola.
Delicious gardens surround it, that from the left sweetly slope down towards the sea, which is very close by, and on the right they end with small olive groves, nothing could more could render the idea more picturesque, it seems like walking in an English garden. The Adriatic, which has the colour of the greenest of emeralds, forms the lido from Mola to Bari, small ports, like those of “le Fate" d’Ariosto and Tasso tying up their boats.
Mola is a small city which is much esteemed, which juts far out into the sea and is well built. 
 
Today, from inland these places are the biggest coastal centres , if visited at sunset you can see the arrival of the days’ catch and chose directly from the baskets, from the best to freshest catch.
In Molo, the Expert dedicated a unique eulogy in which he favourably described, and like today , the experience
:

mola di Bari

MOLA DI BARI

 
A few miles from Molo one can find Polignano, a small city, built above a cliff which is elevates it above the sea. Half a mile before one finds a small gulf , rather a small natural port in the principle of the 16th century, built on sand by the Venetians. The public walk around the neighbouring parts of Polignano which is horribly stony, but the site is as happy as ever, the small hills which grace the lido and run along the roads ,there are small lthick groups of olive groves which hide the view of the sea, but were there are fewer , it is a pleasant surprise.

Polignano

POLIGNANO

Leaving from Polignano and Monopoli the road is beautifully interwoven with sea views and the hills of murge, a really beautiful jewel to visit for those who arrive in these places there begins to appear , a discreet distance one from another on the SP16 from Fasano, the place in the Province of Bari, followed by Cisternini, Locorotondo and Martina Franca, situated in land and in the heart of the Val d’Itria.
 
Ostuni enjoys an advantageous position, but is unevenly built. Here one can begin to see the highest and the biggest horses in all the kingdom [...]. The olive groves of Ostuni are well cultivated and provide its wealth.
 
Today as before Ostuni appears to be white, from the road, located on the top of the hill, framed by the green of the olives and the deep blue of the southern sky. To the modern traveller this marvellous city, because of its houses it is called the “white city”, offers pleasant discoveries in it small streets, up and up, towards the cathedral of the great Gothic rose, its small craft shops, small bars situated between fig trees and stairwells.
After Ostuni you turn towards Mesagne:

mesagne, castello

MESAGNE, THE CASTLE

mesagne

MESAGNE, INTERNAL ENTRANCE HALL OF THE CASTLE

IThe fields of Messagne pleasurably end with agave hedges, vulgarly always alive. The majestic stem of this plant, is that it grows to 12 feet and the shape and colour of its leaves are somewhat foreign, which gives the idea that you have imaginatively been transported into an Oriental place. This plant is very useful, the bees make delicious honey, and its flowers are most joyful […].
 
 
For those who consider themselves knowledgeable in history, then Messagne is a true representative of urban planning in cities of the South, which developed and expanded during the 15th and 16th centuries. There are many characteristic palaces, with their windows rich in strokes and ornate frames with geometric motives, portals and beautiful residences. The castle of Messagne was probably built in the 11th century under the Byzantine domination, and recently re-opened after long and painstaking restoration now hosts the “Museo del Territorio” . It is now possible to see for the first time examples of finds dating back to the Messapian age, stars of a rare beauty and various funeral equipment, vases for banquets, ceramic amphora’s, golden jewellery and ointments.

locorotondo The road now leads from S. Vito to Lecce and then for Campi, ut a trip along the coast road of the provincia of Otranto expects a lot a care to be taken on the part of the traveller. This part of the coast road runs for 260 miles, and is bathed on the one side by the Adriatic and the Ionian on the other, which rather forms rather vulgarly the heel of Italy. It was once the custodian of 78 towers built against the Turkish raids, but during the reign of Charles 3rd many of these towers fell in ruin, […] the first of these towers are called S. Leonardo. The shore until Brindisi is generally low and sandy. Brindisi! How this name inspires deep veneration!

 LOCOROTONDO

 

There are two twin marble columns which come from Turkey and they have become the symbols of the city, deduced to be the end of the Via Appia, but were in reality a point of reference for old sailors , today only about 18 metres altogether remain and they are visible only from the base. Of great interest is the historical centre, partly remaining inside the old Aragon walls which date back to the 15th century and which were later enlarged and modified in order to defend the city by Charles 5th, by adding enormous bastions.
Along the Brindisi and Otranto coast roads one can stop at one of the marvellous and beautiful sandy beaches or stop at one of the many “masserie”often fortresses facing out to sea, and witnesses to a feudal past which worked very well up until the 18th century, when in the surrounding countryside there was a really serious problem of bandits, it was for this reason that Ceva Grimaldi had been sent to the “Terra d’Otranto”.

Otranto, castello

OTRANTO, THE CASTLE

 

roca, litorale

ROCA LI POSTI

Roca Li Posti or Rocavecchia is a small place but of an enormous beauty, situated predominantly on a craggy and rocky coast, but it overlooks a sea of the most intense mixture of blue and green, where thanks to nature the sea is often very calm. All of these places are easily reachable by taking the local state road from Brindisi to Lecce and then deviating towards the seaside village of San Cataldo, or by looking at the times of local transport both by buses or the Sud-Est train line, which cover most of the Salento area.
 
Between Roca and Otranto one can see the Alimini lakes which are famous for their delicate fish. The lake is formed by the sea and comes inland, and contain a lot of water and have a perimeter of 12 miles. At the beginning of May opens up the flow of waves which reach sea level. In August this flow naturally closes due to the sand that the sea accumulates, it is at this time that there is an abundance of fish.

otranto

Otranto

 
Two large stretches of water which extend and run parallel to the coast meet at the rear of the Adriatic which are connected by subtle flows to the sea.
The ambience of the Alimini lakes –the Small and the Great- is extremely charming, because they are almost completely surrounded by a rocky crown and luscious vegetation.
Both of the lakes are fully equipped with tourist amenities , with non invasive holiday villages, to host their guests with all comforts. It is possible to vent the little villas for as little as a week in the surrounding areas, offering above all many possibilities to practise water sports such as wind surfing. In the winter they are quite isolated and are a fascinating base to be able to visit other places of interest in Salento. It is their charm that springs to mind with their crystalline waters and the greenery especially when taking a walk in water that seems like one has beeb transported back in time.

laghi alimini

THE ALIMINI LAKES

 
They have received five times prizes from the “Legambiente” ( Environmental League) , for the treatment and care taken of the coast and the fight against the “demoniacal” ways of nature, for example sea erosion etc.
Otranto remains charming thanks to its resistance to the paths of change and it is as beautiful as always. Our traveller wrote this of Otranto
:
 
all that is known geographically as Otranto capital of the province (…) The cathedral the most admirable paved mosaics especially for the age in which they were constructed, during the first Norman period, the columns of Oriental granite date back to the time of Minerva. These eleven columns are the leftovers of a city, from which were taken one hundred towers, and that now like Taranto occupy a site of antique rock. Otranto, is so old, that there is not even a shadow of a memory remaining of previous ages, its surrounding areas are so well loved for the abundance of sources and of natural springs, which run between woods of laurel, myrtle, oranges and olives.
This place is very close to the mounts of Epiro, that were told by Pirro who conceived the strange idea that Greece and Italy could be united by a bridge which would have been about five hundred miles long.The journey from Otranto to Corfu with good winds permitting can be done in only a few hours, so one is able in a few hours to go and visit the gardens of Alcinoo.
It is effectively true that Otranto occupies the closest point for a trip to Greece, especially for those lovers of sailing, or for Albania , and at the time of Ceva Grimaldi the distance to Greece was calculated to be only 70 km.
Going into the historical centre one passes the majestic Porta Alfonsina, from the narrow paved streets it is possible to admire the remains of a house/tower and even further ahead the entrance of the Cathedral. While on the sea, raises the Bastion of Pelasgi , where one can see the enchanting panorama of the port, continuing across the centre one reaches the piazza della Basilica, which our lord holds up the façade of the cathedral, a building which is well known mainly for its mosaic floor dating back to the 12th century and is one of the most important in Europe. 
 

Otranto, duomo

OTRANTO, THE CATHEDRAL

The mosaic of Otranto, is marvellous because it is made of polychrome weave of local lime, in white, grey greens and gold’s and it dates back to around 1163 and is the protagonist of the noted book of Roberto Cotroneo, Otranto
This is only an example , a long relationship between the city, and art is that of the Castello di Otranto by Walpole, originally a Gothic romance, then a film of Carmelo Bene, which in a long sequence of the film, films the heads of the martyrs of the Turkish siege in 14th century, there are about hundred preserved in the Cathedral.
Going ahead you arrive in Soleto
:
 
 
A village of one thousand eight hundred souls about twelve miles from Lecce and called soleto, a part of the old Salento […]. Soleto is situated on a hill in the middle of a peninsular, about 16 miles away from the Adriatic, and about equidistance from the Ionian, there are vineyards, olive groves and land used for pasture.
 
Continuing southwards, along the coast road from Otanto to S.Maria di Leuca, which is about 50 km long, one is able to observe, with Ceva Grimaldi that in this leg the beach meets with the small ports of Vadisco and Tricase and the celebrated grotto of Zinzalusa. French newspapers pompously announced in 1806 the discovery of a magnificent temple at the bottom of this grotto.
 
The small valley of Badisco,goes down towards the sea forming a small port which opens between the Punta Scuru and the Capo Palscia, from where it takes its name. In mythology it is said that Enea, on his journey to Italy landed at Badisco. Another enchanting sea, in which the colour is in strong contrast to the white sand and rock, which gives it an almost wild look. Porto Badsico should be noted down due to the discovery of what is known as the Grotta dei Cervi, named in this way because of the many hunting scenes represented on its walls which date back to prehistoric times.

tricase,marina

THE SEASHORE OF TRICASE

porto badisco

PORTO BADISCO

 
The grotta della Zinzulusa was discovered in 1793 by Monsignor F. A. Del Duca and was successively explored until 1870. It represents one of the numerous natural beauties of the Adriatic coast. Situated only 3km from Castro marina and close by to Porto Badisco, the grotto is over hanging from the enchanting coastal road, famous for its colours and vegetation, but you can visit also on foot. Around the grotto one can admire a cliff in which its average height 15 metres a sheer drop into the sea, it is almost unique for the changing colours, from grey to purple, due to the iron oxides in the rock.

leuca

SANTA MARIA DI LEUCA

The Zinzulusa, literally the layered grotto, “zinzoli” consists of two different size cavities, small like of crystalline waters called “il Trabochetto” (the trap). It is a marvellous calcareous creation of varying shape, size and colour, with interesting elements and it has captured the imagination of cavers in which there have been various denominations; Cascata, Aquila, Pulpito, Leggio, Presepe, and Spada di Damacle ( Waterfall, Eagle, Pulpit, Reading stand, Nativity, and Damacle’s sword.) Seventeenth century academic manuscripts are preserved in libraries.
The Marquis Ceva Grimaldi wrote proudly of his role and his beautiful and almost mythical conquests in the places he visited along the Adriatic coast:
 
 
At the most extreme point of the peninsular between the Adriatic sea and the Ionian sea is the place of the celebrated headland Japigio, which has been formed by two Pennine ramifications, one that comes from the “Terra di Bari and the other from Basilicata, so in this way the headland finishes in two points. One is called Leuca and the other Ristola, the intermediate gulf is the port of Leuca which seems to have been described by Virgilio, in the third book of Eneide […] I was so therefore on the same path beaten by Enea, by Ulysses, by Diomede and by fearless knights and without resistance. The prairies are also a sanctuary, I remember, four snow white horses that Enea admired in which were blessed of the wars which Italy suffered. I considered these furrowed seas to be of the greatest men on earth…
 
It is still possible even today to make this journey walking in the footsteps of the mythical past, still in their original form.
Santa Maria di Leuca or simply Leuca , from the Greek leukòs, which means white, constituting a marina of tiny village situated in the extreme south of the peninsular called Castrignano del Capo. The original legend is very interesting. It tells of a queen of that “Specchio”(stretch) of sea where the Adriatic and the Ionian meet, something like a completely white mermaid for this reason called Leucàsia, who with her singing attracted sailors.
 

leuca scogliera

VIEW OF SANTA MARIA DI LEUCA

But no one could dislodge Melisso from her loved Aristula and who kills both, for revenge , and so provoking a storm which should have separated the bodies forever. From above in his temple Minerva saw all of this, and impetuously decides to petrify the bodies of both Melisso and Arìstula, giving them there eternity, thus creating the point of Meliso and the point of Ristola, that, untouched by anybody they could remain in each others arms in that stretch of sea. So Leucàsia was also petrified by remorse, and was transformed in to the white town of Leuca.
So even from the oldest times Leuca has been known as finibus terrae (lands end), but it is also the place where the two seas, the Adriatic and the Ionian both meet and divide. From the terrace of the lighthouse it is possible to see a unique panorama, from the East the mountains of Albania and from the West the mountains of Calabria, and in the “Mezzogiorno” the island of Corfu. 

Here ends the Adriatic itinerary of the Bourbon Expert , which has been conducted both in the past and the present, by taking short cuts and a crystalline sea, in places where we can see protagonists of art and antique monuments and gastronomy but above all the lively and monumental aspects of nature, which was described by Dante as the thirsty land where the sun makes wine.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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