Il Mezzogiorno - Naples & Southern Italy - September 2010

Apulia - Salento

Photos by Walt & Gloria Fogler-Mancini


The “heel” of Italy is a part of Apulia known as Salento.  It is between the Adriatic Sea on the east and the Gulf of Taranto in the Ionian Sea to the south.  Surrounded by water in the crossroads of the Mediterranean, it was attacked, invaded and conquered for much of its history.  The area is primarily agricultural.

Trulli are traditional Puglian limestone dwellings with conical roofs found in the Val d’Itria. Their origins are not known, though some survive from the 13th century.  One popular theory is that due to high property taxes, people used dry wall construction so their houses could be dismantled when the royal tax collectors were in the area.

The trulli are also found in cities and have been modernized.  They are on UNESCO’s list and attract many tourists.

Though founded by the Greeks and an important Roman port, Otranto was a Byzantine stronghold.  It became part of the Kingdom of Sicily and  Frederick II reinforced the castle in the 13th century. The Aragonese rebuilt it after Otranto was recaptured in 1481.

Its cathedral, Santa Maria Annunziata,  was built using some columns from the Temple of Minerva.  It was consecrated by the Norman Roger I in 1088 and the grand mosaic covering its whole floor was finished in 1166.  An older crypt is below the church.

Otranto’s claim to infamy came when they were captured by the Turks and Venetians in 1480. Its bishop was quartered and 800 hostages were executed for refusing to convert to Islam.

Capo Sta. Maria di Leuca, the tip of Italy, is 50 km. south of Otranto.  The coast has not been developed and the Greek and Byzantine influences can still be seen.

Lecce is the most important city in Salento.  It had Greek and Roman origins, but is known as the “baroque Florence”.  After the threat of Turkish invasion passed, the city prospered under Spanish rule and rebuilt itself in the 16th and 17th centuries. 

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The photographs were taken with Leica cameras, the M8, M9 and D-LUX 3.  All images are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without permission. We can be contacted via e-mail at   Our home page is

March 9, 2011                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       wgfm

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