is a town and comune
In Italy, the comune is the basic administrative division, and may be properly approximated in casual speech by the English word township or municipality.-Importance and function:...
in the province of Taranto
The Province of Taranto is a province in the Apulia region of Italy. Its capital is the city of Taranto.It has an area of 2,437 km², and a total population of 580,588...
, Puglia, southern Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...
Grottaglie is located in the Salento
Salento is the south-eastern extremity of the Apulia region of Italy. It is a sub-peninsula of the main Italian Peninsula, sometimes described as the "heel" of the Italian "boot"...
peninsula, a whole rock of limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....
dividing Adriatic sea
The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula, and the system of the Apennine Mountains from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges...
from Ionian sea
The Ionian Sea , is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Adriatic Sea. It is bounded by southern Italy including Calabria, Sicily and the Salento peninsula to the west, southern Albania to the north, and a large number of Greek islands, including Corfu, Zante, Kephalonia, Ithaka, and...
. The countryside around the city is scattered with vast and deep ravines that open the ground into the heart of the limestone-rock. The landscape is characterized by the presence of such ancient and enthralling rupestrian ravine
A ravine is a landform narrower than a canyon and is often the product of streamcutting erosion. Ravines are typically classified as larger in scale than gullies, although smaller than valleys. A ravine is generally a fluvial slope landform of relatively steep sides, on the order of twenty to...
encircling the built-up area.
The name Grottaglie derives from the Latin Cryptae Aliae
, meaning “many ravines”, which has been inhabited since the Palaeolithic Age. The ancestral part of Grottaglie was one of the citadels in the area, referred to in Medieval documents as Casale Cryptalerum
, founded during the Dark Ages by the inhabitants of the caves who sheltered there due to Saracen
Saracen was a term used by the ancient Romans to refer to a people who lived in desert areas in and around the Roman province of Arabia, and who were distinguished from Arabs. In Europe during the Middle Ages the term was expanded to include Arabs, and then all who professed the religion of Islam...
The fief of Grottaglie was donated by the Norman overlords to the archbishopric of Taranto in the 11th century. In the 14th century the ecclesiastic administration provided the fief with fortifications, walls, a castle (Castello Episcopio, Italian for “archbishop’s castle”) as well as with the Chiesa Matrice
Since the 15th-17th centuries the jurisdiction over Grottaglie fief was split between the ecclesiastic administration (civil law) and the lay feudal lords (criminal law, Cicinelli-Caracciolo family). Fights between these two competing authorities and periodic revolts by the heavily-taxed population were the leit-motiv of Grottaglie’s history until the abolition of feudalism
Feudalism was a set of legal and military customs in medieval Europe that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, which, broadly defined, was a system for ordering society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour.Although derived from the...
(1806). After the Italian unification
Italian unification was the political and social movement that agglomerated different states of the Italian peninsula into the single state of Italy in the 19th century...
Grottaglie had the first urban expansion outside its Medieval walls.
- The massive Castello Episcopio (13th century) castle.
- The main church, also known as Chiesa Matrice, dating back to 1379.
- The city's oratory, known as Purgatory Oratory.
- Palazzo Cicinelli, a massive building on the main square whose original façade has been later redecoreted to the current fashion during the Baroque period. The palazzo was the seat of the Duke
A duke or duchess is a member of the nobility, historically of highest rank below the monarch, and historically controlling a duchy...
s of Grottaglie also Prince
Prince is a general term for a ruler, monarch or member of a monarch's or former monarch's family, and is a hereditary title in the nobility of some European states. The feminine equivalent is a princess...
s of Cursi and Princes of the Holy Roman Empire
The term Prince of the Holy Roman Empire denoted a secular or ecclesiastical Imperial State, who ruled over an immediate fief directly assigned by the Holy Roman Emperor...
, hence the residence of the feudal lords of the town on the grant of Bohemond I.
- Palazzo Urselli, which maintains the original Renaissance (pre-Baroque) façade, with a massive 15th century gate and a decorated internal courtyard.
- Palazzo Maggiulli-Cometa, whose structure is similar to Palazzo Urselli’s.
- Palazzo Blasi, with a Baroque façade.
- Monastery of San Francesco di Paola, representing the greatest Baroque monument in the city. It has a splendid cloistered-court inside.
- The Chiesa del Carmine, housing a 1530 stone crib scene made by Stefano from Putignano
Putignano is a town and comune in the province of Bari, Puglia, Italy.-Economy:In the past the economy of the city was principally based on agriculture, but soon the population converted the rural village into an industrial center...
Folkloristic and religious events include the commemoration-day of St. Cyrus and Easter-period when the Medieval-rooted confraternal religious orders perform their processions during the days of the Holy Week
Holy Week in Christianity is the last week of Lent and the week before Easter...
Easter is the central feast in the Christian liturgical year. According to the Canonical gospels, Jesus rose from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion. His resurrection is celebrated on Easter Day or Easter Sunday...
rituals include procession
A procession is an organized body of people advancing in a formal or ceremonial manner.-Procession elements:...
and pilgrimage of confrères called “Bubbli-Bubbli” through the streets of town).
Other events include:
- The exhibition “Ceramica nel Quartiere delle Ceramiche”
- The Mediterranean ceramics contest, theatrical and musical events
- Promotion of dessert grapes, months of July–August-September
- Exhibition-contest about ceramic crib scene during the months of December and January
- “Musica Mundi” – international festival of ethnic music in July.
Grapes and ceramics-industry are two traditional elements of the local economy since the times of Greater Greece.
The numerous ceramic finds, tracing back to the Classical Age
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...
and kept in the National Museum of "Magna Grecia" in Taranto, reveal the antique roots of this handicrafts production which was privileged by the presence of considerable amounts of clay in the surrounding territory. More recently, records dating back to the 18th century report at the time 42 companies in Grottaglie operating in the ceramics-sector with a total of 5,000 employees. In addition to ceramics, also agricultural products such as olive oil and excellent choice dessert grapes are of great importance.
Alenia Composite, a factory of Alenia group producing parts for the Boeing 787.