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COPERTINO AND LEVERANO PDO: VALLE DELLA CUPA AND TERRA D’ARNEO

From Copertino to Leverano, through the most evocative towns of the Ionian Salento, discovering the territories of the two PDO wines based on Malvasia and Negramaro.

The name of Copertino has always been linked to wine and in particular to the Malvasia grape variety, which arrived in Puglia thanks to the Benedictine monks. The name of the PDO, which also includes the productions of the territories of Carmiano, Arnesano, Monteroni and a part of Galatina and Lequile, coincides with the Municipality of Copertino, a town famous for being the birthplace of San Giuseppe Desa, protector of students and aviators.

Copertino is one of the most picturesque towns in Salento, enchanting visitors with its majestic castle, a military structure built in 1540 to a design by the architect Evangelista Menga for the Marquis Alfonso Castriota, with hanging gardens and vineyards on its walls.

Moving on to Carmiano you enter the Valle della Cupa, a large karstic depression characterized by fertile land that has favored the cultivation of vines, fruit trees and, thanks to the abundance of water, horticultural productions. Today, the charm of the countryside is still intact, dotted with villas and fortified farms with dovecote towers, neviere, where once the snow was stored and “pagghiare”,old drywalls hut typical of the countryside. In the village stands the 16th century Celestini Palace, with its frescoed chapel dedicated to San Donato and the cloister embellished with a Baroque well.

In the Copertino PDO wine area there is also Arnesano, inhabited since ancient times: in a burial site of the late Neolithic found in the Riesci district was found the Idoletto, a limestone statuette representing a woman with the head of an owl preserved in the Archaeological Museum of Taranto.

Monteroni too has prehistoric origins, but today the most imposing monument is the Baronial Palace, transformed into a noble residence by the Lopez Y Royo family, while in the surroundings the noble families of the Salento capital built villas where they spent the summer. Today in its territory there is the Ecotekne structure, seat of some departments of the University of Salento.

Part of the grapes that give origin to Copertino PDO wine are grown between Galatina and Lequile. Galatina reached its maximum splendor between the 16th and 18th centuries, a period in which valuable palaces and the Cathedral of San Pietro e Paolo were built, while the Santa Caterina D’Alessandria Church, a national monument since 1870 with frescoes in the same style as those in the San Franceso D’Assisi Basilica, dates back to 1300.

In Lequile the influence of the Lecce Baroque is evident in the churches and palaces of the village, among which the Marquis Palace of the Saluzzo family, feudal lords of the place, stands out. Among the roofs, instead, emerges the beautiful majolica domes of the Churches of San Nicola or the Redeemer and San Vito, the patron saint of the town who stands out on the spire in the centre of the town.

A single municipality for a single PDO is Leverano, known as the city of wine but also of flowers. The town is part of the territory called Terra d’Arneo and is home to the homonymous Eco-museum, created to protect the biodiversity and traditions of the area. To guard the inhabited centre, the Federiciana Tower that it is elevated for 28 meters and that the tradition wants has been made to construct for wish of the Swabian Federick the II in order to hold under control the near ionic coast.