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Specchia

THE TOWN ON THE HILL IN SOUTHERN SALENTO

Villas in Salento near Specchia >>

One of the Borghi Più Belli d'Italia (Prettiest Towns in Italy), Specchia effortlessly and unassumingly lives up to its billing. 

The town's hilltop position in the southeast of Salento, just a few kilometres from the Adriatic Sea, tells us much about its history. For centuries, Puglia’s east coast was prone to raids from Saracen invaders, Ottoman navies and other marauders. Those who lived by the sea sought refuge inland, preferably at a safe altitude. Small towns sprang up along the spine of the Salento peninsula, including Specchia, which was originally settled in the 9th century. It flourished under the Normans in the 11th and 12th centuries, an era which saw the beginning of an upwardly mobile trend that continued, albeit with a few minor vicissitudes, until the 18th century. 

In the summer months, bars and restaurants spill out onto piazzas and pavements, and small independent food shops tempt passers-by with their irresistible array of local specialities.

Wandering the streets of Specchia today is a pleasure reserved for those in the know. Elegant thoroughfares, lined with imposing noble palaces and historic churches, are crisscrossed by narrow, shady streets. A quiet "ringroad" circumnavigates the centre, tracing what was once the line of the town's defensive walls. In the summer months, bars and restaurants spill out onto piazzas and pavements, and small independent food shops tempt passers-by with their irresistible array of local specialities. In pride of place at the centre of all this is Piazza del Popolo, flanked on one side by Castello Risolo and on the other by the Chiesa Madre, both of which date back to the 15th century.

Other buildings of note include the elegantly slim-line, 17th century Chiesa dell’Assunta, the faux-fortified 17th century Palazzo Baronale Ripa with its elegant street-level loggia and the early 16th century church and convent of the Francescani Neri. Just out of town are two fascinating churches, both of Byzantine origin: the 11th century Chiesa di San Nicola di Mira and the 9th century Chiesa di Sant’Eufemia.

The countryside surrounding Specchia is carpeted with olive groves, an important aspect of the local economy and one which has profoundly influenced the town's architectural heritage: look below the surface and you'll find numerous frantoi ipogei (underground olive oil presses), some of which date as far back as the 15th century. We recommend you try to visit these one of these subterranean wonders (with a guide from the Pro Loco tourism office). By doing so you'll get close to the secret core of life, not only of Specchia itself, but of Puglia as a whole.

Villas in Salento near Specchia >>

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