Lord Byron wrote that in Italy cities are all capitals. We add that even the small centers in our country have so much to tell and they can always be considered exciting excerpts. No exception Uggiano La Chiesa, Salento center in the idruntino hinterland.
In Salento among the villages to the East
In the heart of Uggiano and in the center of its history is Umberto I square, with the church of Santa Maria Maddalena, patron saint of the village. A Latin cross with three aisles has the peculiarity of having a straight and non-circular apse. The interior is full of stucco decorations and the altar, dedicated to Mary Magdalene, presents the classic motifs of the local baroque as twisted columns, floral and volute motifs.
On the same square is the Torre dell’Angelo, which dominates it from the corner between Via Santa Lucia and Via Casamassella. Most likely it is the remains of the original outpost of the watch station from which the name Uggiano originated, and in 1939 it was declared of historical-cultural interest.
The most acclaimed hypothesis on the name of the town is in fact the one derived from the Latin derivation “Vigilarum”, meaning “place of sight and control”.
District of Uggiano is Casamassella, the non-coastal village east of Italy, between Giurdignano and Otranto. When I first came to here, I was fascinated by both the “ancient” air of the hamlet where everything runs slowly with rhythms that have completely lost elsewhere, and that of the imposing De Viti De Marco castle, which stands in the central square of country.
We have not only been able to get in and out of the magnificent garden and the halls of the grand palace, but also to stay in one of the rooms built in the thick walls. A dream that can happen to anyone. Read here: https://www.cittameridiane.it/en/from-the-castle/.
Getting around the corridors, stairs, rooms and environments leads you through the history. The castle, in fact, before becoming the De Donno family owned since 1969, was inhabited by De Viti De Marco who had it with baking stoves still present in every room. But before, the function of this castle was strictly military: its origins date back to the Middle Ages, under the reign of Charles d’Angiò, and represented a safe and unbeatable stronghold sheltered from the frequent raids on the coast by pirates. In the 1700s its function changed completely and the severe military architecture swelled to transform it into the elegant noble palace of De Viti De Marco.
And to Donna Carolina and Donna Giulia, mother and sister of the well-known economist Antonio De Viti De Marco, who is entitled the faculty of Economics and Commerce of Lecce, are dedicated to the oak walks located in the courtyard of the palace next to wonderful specimens of Jacaranda, holm oaks, citrus fruits, cypresses, ancient roses, precious vines, bougainvilles and palm trees.
On the top floor of the building, in addition to the charming library, there is the magnificent central salon with large windows from which one admires the nearby sea and one of the largest bedrooms we have ever seen!
It is not only the main square in the country, quiet and with an atmosphere from Italy in the 1950s, to bring you back to the past. The small village preserves techniques and works of an ancient art, the weaving, such as the one of the “pinti” or the most recent one “a fiocco” thanks to the project of the Le Costantine Foundation, wanted by five women who lived and worked in the first half of last century in Casamassella. They are Carolina de Viti de Marco, her two daughters Lucia and Giulia Starace, Harriett Lathrop Dunham, wife of the economist Antonio de Viti de Marco and sister-in-law of Carolina, and Lucia de Viti de Marco her daughter.
Today, there are still carpets, pillows, bedspreads, towels, wool blankets, handbags and stoles, all made strictly by the wise hands of Casamassella women. Tissues that, with the use of ancient four-legged wooden frames, weave cotton, linen, wool, silk and cashews, making precious craftsmanship.
And if you want to conclude this theme-themed stay, ie between the walls of a building that belonged to the De Viti De Marco family and hosted a weaving workshop, stop at La Filanda, home of charm and oasis of peace, overlooking the terraces and the secret garden, which houses on the first floor six rooms open to hospitality and on the ground floor the house of Roberto and Irene, alongside Roberto’s architectural studio: https://www.cittameridiane.it/en/la-filanda-stories-weave/.