The Salice Salentino PDO wine area stretches between Lecce and Brindisi. The vineyards of Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera at the base of Salice Salentino PDO are cultivated in Veglie, Guagnano and Campi Salentina in the area of Lecce and in San Pancrazio Salentino, San Donaci and Cellino San Marco in the province of Brindisi.
Salice Salentino, which gives its name to the PDO, is a village founded in the late 14th century by Prince Raimondello Orsini del Balzo and was named after the many willows in the area. Not far away stands the imposing Monaci Castle, which owes its name to the settlement of a group of Basilian monks.
Veglie has ancient origins. After being destroyed by the Saracens, it was rebuilt by the Byzantine emperor Niceforo Foca and in 1557 sold to the rich Genoese merchant family Squarciafico, who became counts of Copertino. Worth a visit are the underground oil-mill in Largo San Vito and the Cathedral dedicated to San Giovanni Battista and Sant’Irene, founded between the 15th and the 16th century and radically transformed after the earthquake of 1743. A very heartfelt cult is that of the Madonna della Favana, depicted in the homonymous crypt in a cycle of 15th century frescoes. An interesting visit to Monteruga, a ghost town built during the Fascist period.
The history of Guagnano is linked to the woods and its rural traditions and still today agriculture is at the top of the village’s activities and wine is linked to events such as the “Premio Terre del Negroamaro” and the activities of the “Studies of the Negroamaro Museum Centre”, housed in a former millstone. In the outskirts there is Vincent City, the house-museum that the artist Vincent Brunetti has realized with recycled material.
In Campi Salentina the presence of some menhirs suggests that it was already inhabited in the Bronze Age. Today it is considered “The granary of Terra d’Otranto”. And it is not by chance that the coat of arms represents a sheaf. The naturalistic oasis of the riparian wood of Canale della Lacrima, of remarkable environmental importance and immersed in the Negroamaro Park, has been recently established.
In San Pancrazio Salentino, don’t miss a walk in the Torrevecchia district to visit the Grotta dell’Angelo , Cave of the Angel, frescoed with images of saints, depicted according to Byzantine iconography. The fresco in the church of Sant’Antonio da Padova tells the story of the sack of the town by Captain Cria, who had almost all the inhabitants captured and sold as slaves in Turkey.
In San Donaci the Castle and the Temple of San Miserino are relevant, considered one of the oldest early Christian places of worship in the region, not far from the Limitone dei greci, a wall dividing the Byzantine and the Longobard areas. All around are the natural park Li Paduli and the area of the Paludi, once inhabited by Basilian monks and now a place of passage for migratory birds.
The tour ends in the lands of the wine Salice Salentino PDO Cellino San Marco, a small village that has its heart in the main square with the baronial palace and the church of San Marco Evangelista with twin bell towers.