Ceglie Messapica is a pretty town in the province of Brindisi. It is located on a hill about 11 km south of Ostuni, half way along the road between Brindisi and Taranto. It is situated on a hill overlooking the beautiful Valle d’Itria, which is known for its picturesque countryside and trulli, unique stone buildings with conical roofs.
History of Ceglie Messapica
Ceglie Messapica has a rich history dating back to ancient times, and it was an important center for the Messapii, an ancient tribe that inhabited the region. Later, it became a Roman colony and was subsequently ruled by various feudal lords and noble families.
According to legend, Ceglie was founded by the Pelasgians civilization who came from the East in Puglia; remains of this civilization would be the “specchie” (mirrors) and other megalithic constructions.
With the arrival of the Greeks in 700 BC the city was named Kaila. The name Ceglie derives from Caelia, this is how it was named in the third century BC when it was ruled by the Messapi which during that period also ruled other cities like Brindisi, Ostuni and Lecce.
For a long time they opposed and fought to the Greeks who dominated the Taranto territory and tried to create an outlet to the Adriatic Sea. They tried to resist for a few decades but Taranto finally prevailed over them in 303 BC.It was during the Messapian period that the city became an important cultural and military centre.
What to see and do in Ceglie Messapica
Today, Ceglie Messapica is a charming town with a well-preserved historic center that features narrow streets, white-washed buildings, and Baroque architecture. It is known for its excellent cuisine, particularly its homemade pasta, and its traditional products such as olive oil and wine.
Here are some of the things you can see in Ceglie Messapica:
Castle of Ceglie Messapica: This impressive castle is located in the historic center of the town and dates back to the 13th century. It was built by the Normans and later expanded by the Swabians and the Angevins. Today, the castle houses the Archaeological Museum and the Municipal Library.
Church of San Giovanni Battista: This beautiful Baroque church was built in the 18th century and houses several important works of art, including a painting by Luca Giordano and a wooden statue of Saint John the Baptist.
Historic Center: The historic center of Ceglie Messapica is a maze of narrow streets, white-washed buildings, and picturesque squares. It is a great place to explore on foot and soak up the town’s charming atmosphere.
Palazzo Ducale: This imposing palace was built in the 16th century and was the residence of the feudal lords who ruled over Ceglie Messapica. Today, it is a cultural center and hosts various exhibitions and events.
Food and Wine: Ceglie Messapica is renowned for its excellent cuisine, particularly its homemade pasta and traditional products such as olive oil and wine. There are several restaurants and wine bars in the town where you can sample the local specialties. The town boasts a well-established culinary tradition, and since the fifties has received several awards, especially for the ice cream, pastry and bakery productions. Among these, the “cegliese cookie”, which has been candidate for the PDO recognition (Protected Designation of Origin): it is a cookie made with toasted almonds, lemon and black cherry jam, covered with a glaze made of sugar and cocoa (called “scileppo”).
What to see near Ceglie Messapica
The surrounding area, as the whole Itria Valley, is characterized by the unmistakable presence of trulli and masserie. Remains of 19 specchie (mirrors) have also been found in its countryside: they are basically pile of stones of elliptical shape and various sizes, it is believed that some (the larger) were once used as lookout towers and others (the smaller) were used as tombs as few of them contained many funeral objects.
There are several interesting sights and attractions to see near Ceglie Messapica, including:
Ostuni: This picturesque town is known as the “White City” for its whitewashed buildings and historic center. It is located about 15 kilometers from Ceglie Messapica and is a popular tourist destination.
Alberobello: This UNESCO World Heritage Site is famous for its trulli, unique stone buildings with conical roofs that are found throughout the town. Alberobello is located about 30 kilometers from Ceglie Messapica and is a must-see if you’re in the area.
Martina Franca: This elegant town is known for its Baroque architecture and charming historic center. It is located about 20 kilometers from Ceglie Messapica and is a great place to explore on foot.
Locorotondo: This beautiful town is known for its circular layout and picturesque historic center. It is located about 25 kilometers from Ceglie Messapica and is a great place to wander and take in the views.
Grotte di Castellana: This underground cave system is located about 40 kilometers from Ceglie Messapica and is a fascinating natural wonder to explore.
Adriatic Coast: Ceglie Messapica is located just a short drive from the Adriatic coast, which boasts several beautiful beaches and seaside towns to visit.