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PDO BRINDISI, FROM THE WHITE CITY TO THE LAND OF CASTLES

A journey through the territory of D.O.P. Brindisi extra virgin olive oil, amidst the green of centuries-old olive trees, the red of the earth, and the white of dry stone walls.

Let’s explore the territory of D.O.P. Brindisi extra virgin olive oil along an itinerary that runs parallel to the coast of Puglia, south of Ostuni, in a hilly area characterized by strong chromatic contrasts: the green of centuries-old olive trees, the red of the earth, and the white of castles, villages, and dry stone walls.

Our journey starts from Ostuni, the picturesque ‘white city,’ perched on three hills with its winding alleys, staircases, and lime-washed houses. At the highest point of the city lies the Cathedral, dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta, adorned with a late Gothic façade featuring three portals surmounted by rosettes. Its square is also home to the Episcopal Palace and the Seminary, connected by a stone bridge called “la Loggia,” and the “Museum of Pre-Classical Civilizations of Southern Murgia,” housed in the evocative spaces of the former Carmelite Monastery of Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi. The museum preserves the Woman of Ostuni, the remains of a pregnant woman dating back to the Pleistocene. Worth a stop are also the Church of San Vito Martire, for its elegant Rococo lines, and the Baroque Palazzo Zevallos, the residence of the ancient Neapolitan feudal lords. Before departing, take a moment in Piazza Libertà to admire the Spire of S. Oronzo, a votive monument erected in 1771 by the people of Ostuni following a plague.

Surrounding Ostuni, you’ll encounter a lush countryside characterized by gentle slopes dominated by the olive trees of D.O.P. Brindisi extra virgin olive oil, amidst “lamie,” trulli, and castles built during the Norman-Swabian era, around which some of the most beautiful medieval villages in Puglia gather. The Dentice di Frasso Castle in Carovigno dates back to the 12th century, with a triangular structure and towers at the vertices, likely inspired by the designs of Francesco di Giorgio Martini. Its current appearance, with doors, windows, and an elegant balcony, reflects the residential needs of noble families who inhabited it from the 17th century when it ceased to serve defensive functions. In the castle’s underground, you can still see snow pits and stone-lined tanks for oil storage.

San Vito dei Normanni, with its name, recalls its past as a fortified center favored by the Normans and the Altavilla. The current Dentice di Frasso Castle, dating back to the Renaissance, incorporates the ancient Norman tower. Make a detour to the Museum of Rural Civilization, housed in the fascinating setting of the Dominican Fathers’ Convent, to explore the history and local rural traditions through a collection of tools used by farmers and artisans in pre-industrial Puglia. Before departing, enjoy the cool shade of the lush maritime pine trees in Villa Comunale. We conclude our itinerary in San Michele Salentino, with a visit to S. Maria della Grottella, one of the most beautiful rock churches in the area, and a stop at the former farmhouse S. Giacomo, which houses an olive oil mill where you can deepen your understanding of the production process of D.O.P. Brindisi olive oil.

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.”