Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Joy Welcult and the project of an ecomuseum

Few days ago Katja from Thalassia invited me by e-mail to the seminar Joy Welcult, to be held on Tuesday 28th in the Mesagne’s castle.

The Joy Welcult project, co-funded by the European Union (ERDF) and by National funds of Greece & Italy, aims to realize an ecomuseum in both the countries.

The Apulian Region has indicated Mesagne, and its neighbour towns, the area in which the ecomusuem will be realized.

What is an ecomueum? And why creating an ecomuseum in Mesagne? 

The ecomuseum merges cultural heritage and environment.

The goal is to let the citizens be more aware of their identity.

Therefore, associations with support of public and private players, are strongly invited to give their contribute.

In this specific case, the common background is represented by the Messapian area of Mesagne, Latiano and other towns (yet to be selected) which share history and traditions.

Damiano Franco (pictured), president of GAL Terra dei Messapi says: “we wish that Mesagne and Latiano co-operate to develop the archaeological site of Muro Tenente”.

By the way, Messapia is a pre-roman civilisation, with Illiric roots.

Mauro Paolo Bruno (pictured), Dirigente ufficio beni Archeologici e Architettonici della regione Puglia, reports: “the National Confederation of Craftsmen (CNA) is leader partner of the Joy Welcult project”.

Simonetta Dellomonaco (pictured) states: “According to CETS and European Landscape Agreement, the landscape is what citizens perceive as landscape”.

“We’d like you guys to find the name of the ecomuseum” She addresses to the audience.

Within this framework, booking on-line and e-commerce will be implemented in order to support local producers to trade their goods and manufactures.

Roberta Lopalco (pictured) points out: “the Apulian Piano Paesaggistico Regionale is strictly connected to the Joy Welcult project”. 

Apulia is the first Italian region to adopt such a Piano, meant to preserve the Apulian landscape.

Francesco Baratti (pictured) has written a book about this topic Ecomusei, paesaggi e comunita'. Esperienze, progetti e ericerche nel Salentoedited by Franco Angeli.

He passionately talks about the importance of carrying out an ecomuseum in Mesagne, province of Brindisi.

However, he adds: “Italy still lacks of a national law on ecomuseum”. I think to myself that this is a shame.

The speakers would like to continue talking about it, however it’s 1.30 and people begin to be hungry.

So, after few audience’s remarks, whom contribute is genuinely invoked by the speakers, it’s time to have lunch.

I fill my glass of white wine as well as my dish of bruschetta and pettole.

While eating, I start a conversation with Paolo, an anthropologist, who works for La Manovella, an association located in Mesagne.

“You know” he says “I am a blogger as well”. “Really?” I reply. “Yes, the address is

While talking with others who attended the seminar, I discover another blogger. “My name is Jovanka. I feel fulfilled when I focus on my blog”. She says.

I am so astonished by the high number of bloggers.

It’s 2.30.

It’s time to leave.

I feel so merry after just two glasses of wine…


Monday, 20 July 2015

The Mesagne's castle

Yesterday evening I took the opportunity to visit the Norman-Swabian castle of Mesagne.
Mesagne is just 10 km far from Brindisi.

So, I called the tourist information office of Mesagne (+39 0831 738898).

A professional lady answered my call advising that have been scheduled a tour at 8 pm, and a second one at 9.30.

Lucia and I choose the earlier one.

Such event is one of the hundreds which take place every Saturday night in Apulia (#pugliaopendays).

Culture is one of the key factor of Apulia’s appeal.

Tourists keep appreciating Apulia so much, that again this year it leads in terms of number of tourists hosted, followed by Tuscany and Sardinia.  

We arrive at the castle at 8.10, just in time to listen to the guide introducing the event.

We are around 25 people.

I notice two German families. There has always been a speciali feeling with Germans, a historical connection which linked Germany to Apulia and vice-versa.

In other words, we’ll never forget how important  have the Swabians (Frederick II and Manfred) been for Apulia and for the entire South of Italy.

The castle of Mesagne. According to documents which date back to 1060, there was a already a castrum  with military pourposes.

Then, the Swabians have developed it further.

Actually, the castle has been gradually modified till the 17th century.   

Lucas, our guide, is Argentinian “We are in the tower built up by Orsini Del Balzo in the 15th century. He was enormously rich”.

The guide continues “you see here a bathroom, which is quite unusual for that time. However, the oldest European bathroom is in Castel Del Monte (Apulia!), a Frederick II’s innovation taken by Arabs.

We continue our visit at ground floor. This immense room was till the 60ies the so called cinema Italia.

Then, we go downstairs to view the rooms where two kind of olive oils used to be stored: the alimentary oil and the lampante oil. The latest one was used as combustible, to enlight streets and rooms.

The lampante oil made the fortune of Salento.

The eruption of baroque in Salento corresponds to the economical boom of such oil.  

Indeed, Gallipoli was the port from which lampante oil departed for Instanbul and many other destinations.

We get back at ground floor to admire an amazing Messapian tomb.

This tomb was meant to bury just one person, whose we nowadays would call VIP.

The equipment discovered it is outstanding.

Few fantastic  kraters catch my eyes.

However, I’m astonished by seeing a crown of golden leaves, with a golden rose right in the middle. 

Amazing. I’ve never seen anything like this so far.

After having completed the tour in the castle, Lucas guides us to view the city centre of Mesagne.
This city center is very well preserved.

A pizzeria called Nedina, name of a Messapian queen, has a glass groundfloor which enable us to admire few more Messapian tombs.

We continue our tour till the St. Leonard’s church, which belonged to the Teutonic knights (Germans) since the 13th century.

While walking trough the San Cipriano quarter, I can’t believe to my eyes: a Fascist advise of 1929 which invite the guests of nearby brothel to avoid to piss outside, by the wall. 

It’s 10.30.

We begin to be hungry.

Therefore, after having exchanged smiles and said bye to the people met tonight, we stop at the first pizzeria, sit down and order pizza with a glass of Peroni beer.


Tuesday, 14 July 2015

The crypt of the Original Sin (Matera)

Matera is invaded by tourists since it has been appointed European Capital of Culture 2019.

Matera fully deserves this significant recognition.

In fact, Matera has one of the widest Italian cultural heritage.

An example? The rupestrian churches.

According to Le Chiese Rupestri di Puglia, written by Franco Dell’Aquila and Aldo Messina, Matera has around 150 rupestrian churches, which represents the biggest rupestrian heritage between Apulia and Basilicata.

I had red on La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno, about the increasing interest of Italian and foreigner tourists about the crypt of “peccato originale”.

This news made me tremendously curious.

Therefore, the last week end I set off to Matera to admire it.

Lucia, my partner, has called ArteZeta (320.5350910; in order to enquiry about the access.

The customer service advised that the meeting point was the oil station located 10 km. next Matera coming from Altamura, on the way towards Potenza.

The ticket costs 8 euros.

The meeting time was at 5 pm.

We arrived few minutes earlier.

Some additional tourists were waiting for the guide, who actually arrived at 5 o’clock.

Therefore, after a brief chat, all get on car and follow the guide.

After few miles, finally we arrive at a canyon.

Parked the car under an olive tree, 100 metres and we’re in front of the crypt.

“La cripta del peccato originale dates back to between 8th and 9th century. Therefore, it is the oldest frescos among the rupestrian churches in Matera. It has been discovered 52 years ago”. The guide says.

“The cripta has been inhabited for centuries by shepherds, who used to keep in their sheepfold, light fire  and make cheese”. He continues.

The frescos have been made during the Longobard era, when they were settled in Benevento. However, the frescos have evident Byzantine’s influence.

The aim of these ancient artists who painted it, was to illustrate to illiterate people some of the most relevant part of the bible.

We see the spot of the peccato originale, a snake twisted around the tree, where the fruit passed by Eva to Adam is a fig rather than an apple.

The fig can be found in few other Christian iconography such as the Cappella Sistina’s frescos, painted by Michelangelo.

So, let’s get back to the crypt.

The Holy Virgin is represented with mellow eyes, typical of the Byzantine’s iconography.

Another intriguing aspect is that some of the Saints have six fingers, just to emphasize the fact that human beings are imperfect.

I am glad for having come here to appreciate this amazing place.

We leave the crypt not before having a brief discussion with the guide, whom I give the address of my blog.

We leave the crypt, then we stop after few hundred metres away: we get off the car to visit Dragone, a local wine maker.

After having entered in this renewed masseria, we are offered few glasses of wine with cheese by a gentle woman.

I don’t like cheese, but I definetely like good wine.

We homage the conviviality by buying two bottles of red wine “Il dono”, ten euros each.

Lucia is merry. I’m fine, ready to drive back home.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Foggia gay pride

A long, colourful wave of people have crossed Foggia yesterday.

The rally starts at 5.30 pm.

At that time the sun hammers in the head.

Therefore, I arrive in Foggia at 7.

The day is still bright.

The city centre is plenty of people who look forward to view the colourful wave of Lesbians, Gay, Bisex and Trans (LGBT).

The Gay Pride took place the first time in 1969, in New York City.

At that time, the police raids against the LGBT movement were habitual in the States.

However, the 28th of June 1969, the LGBT undertook a series of violent, spontaneous demonstrations which went down in history as the Stonewall riots.

Since then, LGBT movement has stood up for their rights.

Without any doubt, a lot has been achieved from that moment on.

Let’s just remind the Irish referendum on the same-sex marriage held on the 22nd of May.

Nevertheless, it’s still not enough.

A lot still needs to be done, especially in countries like Italy, which political agenda is influenced by the Vatican on subjects such as civil rights.

Yesterday, I recognised among the demonstrators Michele Emiliano, president of the Apulian region, and Antonio De Caro, Mayor of Bari.

Leonardo Palmisano from SEL (a left-wing political party) points out: “I dedicate this gay pride to the immigrants, who collect tomatoes around Foggia for just a bunch of euros. We must bear in mind that rights are interlaced”. 

Silvia di Liddo and Caterina Mattia, members of Movimento studentesco Link affirm: “we point the finger against the national media, TV in primis, who are responsible for distorting the truth”. 

Giulia Mucelli from GAL Meridaunia states that Monti Dauni are gay friendly, therefore, anyone who wants travel around this amazing part of Apulia is very welcome.

Among the participants, I wish to mention a Dutch guy, who has got married with a guy from Manfredonia (my hometown!) met in Bologna.

He looks quite happy to be here and share his love story with others.


Please click here, should you wish to view more pics