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Itinerary in the territory of PDO Extra Virgin Olive Oil Brindisi, among centuries-old olive trees, fortified farms, ancient Roman cities, and monumental underground oil mills.
The territory where PDO Extra Virgin Olive Oil Brindisi is produced is dominated by the hills of the coastal Murgia and the Itria Valley, gently sloping towards the Adriatic Sea. In this area, once traversed by the Via Traiana, there is the highest concentration of centuries-old olive trees in Puglia. Visitors can explore ancient Roman cities, farms with monumental underground oil mills, and natural oases that pay homage to biodiversity.
Surrounded by orchards, vineyards, and olive groves producing PDO Extra Virgin Olive Oil Brindisi, Fasano is located at the foot of the coastal Murgia, a few kilometers from the sea. The city was long a fiefdom of the Knights of Malta, who in the 17th century built the Mother Church of San Giovanni, with a late Renaissance façade characterized by an ornate rose window. Also noteworthy is the Balì Palace, a symbol of the Order’s power and now the Town Hall, overlooking the beautiful Piazza Ciaia. Near Fasano, a stop in La Selva is worthwhile, a resort area surrounded by woods of oaks, holm oaks, pines, cypresses, and cedars, enjoying a particularly cool climate in the summer. Here, among the trulli and villas hidden by greenery, you can admire the minaret that the Fasano painter Damaso Bianchi had built in 1918 by craftsmen from Africa.
Before heading to Cisternino, make a stop at the excavations of Egnazia, an ancient Messapian and Roman city that stood on the Via Traiana. It is set in an area of great archaeological and naturalistic charm. On the way to the Egnazia Museum, you will traverse a territory where the red of the soil contrasts with the green of the centuries-old monumental olive trees producing PDO Extra Virgin Olive Oil Brindisi.
Nested in the magical landscape of the Itria Valley, Cisternino is a village steeped in spirituality and esoteric references. Built by Basilian monks, it has been a destination for hermits, caliphs, and bishop-barons over time. Today, it is a center of Indian spirituality Bhole Baba and hosts an interreligious festival dedicated to the sacred sounds of the planet. You can fully appreciate its atmosphere by strolling through the narrow streets of the historic center or immersing yourself in the countryside, among historic farms, trulli, and olive trees producing PDO Extra Virgin Olive Oil Brindisi, along the route of the water cycle path that crosses the territory of Cisternino.
Continuing towards Ceglie Messapica, you can admire the countryside dotted with millennia-old trees and farmsteads, a perfect blend of agricultural culture and architecture. These tell stories of past eras and are living testimonies to the local community’s dedication to olive cultivation. The surroundings of Ceglie are also scattered with fascinating karstic cavities, such as the Montevicoli Caves and the San Michele Cave, used in the past by monks as a baptismal font. The city was founded as a fortified center by the Messapians, the ancient inhabitants of the area to whom it owes its name, and from whom remnants of the walls are known today as the ‘paretone’.
Starting from the beautiful Piazza Plebiscito, with the nineteenth-century Clock Tower, venture into the medieval historic center, a maze of alleys winding through whitewashed houses, dominated by the Ducal Castle and the Mother Church. Before leaving, take a break at the MAAC, which houses the collection donated to the municipality by the Futurist painter Emilio Notte. Our itinerary in the territories of PDO Extra Virgin Olive Oil Brindisi concludes with a stroll in Villa Castelli, in the southern part of the Murgia of trulli, where you can visit the beautiful baroque Mother Church of San Michele Arcangelo, with its imposing facade, and the Trappeto del Duca, a large underground oil mill, carved into a natural cave in the Gravina, which operated from the 17th century until the 1950s.
The delights of today’s Brindisi cuisine have ancient roots, closely tied to the culture of extra virgin olive oil. Here, in the territory of D.O.P. Collina di Brindisi olive oil, where the vegetal sculptures of monumental olive trees shape the landscape, it can be interesting to visit the Olive Oil Museum in Fasano.
Housed in the ancient farmhouse in the Sant’Angelo de’ Graecis district, also known as the “Abbey of San Lorenzo” because – according to the Ministry of Cultural Heritage – the production settlement dates back to the 12th century in the rocky settlement of Lama di San Lorenzo.
Objects that centuries ago were used in the daily production of olive oil, such as mills, wooden and metal presses, basins, strainers, mortars, ropes, mule harnesses, pots, bottles, steam tools, and bilge keels, were destined for destruction. Instead, they were saved by the arrangement of the Olive Oil Museum in the countryside of Fasano, established in the restored eighteenth-century olive press.
The entire Brindisi territory preserves, and continues to open to the public, other interesting ancient oil mills.
In the Brindisi area, precisely near Torre Canne in Fasano, archaeological findings have revealed olive pits in the rocks: the early inhabitants used them for their sustenance.
We then move on to the Messapians, who inhabited the area we now identify as Brindisi, Lecce, and the eastern part of Taranto. They were followed by colonists from Greece and the domination of the Romans: for all of them, olive oil is the common thread of unity.
Even today, the so-called “plain of olive trees,” also known as the millennia-old area of Puglia, characterizes the landscape and habits of the Puglian Mediterranean Diet that have come down to us.
It is in Monopoli, in the province of Bari, that the so-called plain of olive trees begins and then continues towards Fasano, Ostuni, and Carovigno amid marine natural parks and Mediterranean scrub, woods, small villages, and trulli to explore with organized excursions – throughout the year – through easy and extraordinarily beautiful routes.
In Puglia, these ancient olive trees are protected by regional law 14 of 2007 on the “Protection and enhancement of the landscape of monumental olive trees in Puglia.”