Puglia is a region of boundless plains, sea, hills and millenary olive trees of inestimable value, that has become a popular destination for its suggestive coasts (more than 800 kilometers between the Adriatic and Ionian Sea), the historic villages and its countryside farms immersed in the green. It offers countless sea glimpses, pristine beaches and a particular architecture that, over time, have made it a land rich in excellence.
Among the region’s peculiarities we have to remember the typical dry construction with the cone-shaped roof in the countryside’s areas, especially in the central-southern area of Puglia: the Trulli. The buildings are especially widespread in the Itria’s Valley and in the Murge and, above all, in a village entirely made up of it: Alberobello. The Alberobello’s Trulli have been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and it is not the only one. Others World Heritage Sites are the San Michele Arcangelo’s Sanctuary (in Foggia’s province), the Gargano’s Umbra Forest Natural Reserve and the thirteenth-century fortress near the Andria Castel del Monte, symbol of Puglia.
A Journey Through Olive Trees and History
Pristine countryside, millenary olive trees, white houses and crystal sea, suggestive views, rich baroque architecture and delicious dishes, make Puglia a perfect scenario for a dreamy wedding.
The area that most identifies the region is the Salento peninsula, the “heel of the boot”, nestled between the Ionian and the Adriatic Seas. The west coast, surrounded by the Ionian Sea, has long and sandy beaches while the east coast, wet by the Adriatic, is rather rocky. Santa Maria di Leuca is the most southern place of the peninsula and where the two seas meet each other, famous for places such as the lighthouse and for the Levante and Ponente’s various inlets and caves, which make it a renowned tourist destination.
The Mediterranean climate and the great culinary tradition made of Puglia an excellence for receptions and rites at any time of the year. And according with tastes there are several suitable locations: a wedding of ancient time, luxury or simply suggestive.
Masserie and castles, beaches and baroque churches, unforgettable places for unique weddings.
The Baroque’s Way
The Apulian Baroque’s pearl is represented by Salento and Lecce. The artistic richness is well evidenced by the presence of religious buildings and palaces embellished with decorations similar to embroidery, chiseled in Lecce’s stone which have a particular malleability. Decorations are sumptuous and explosive and the local architects such as Giuseppe Zimbalo, Mauro Manieri and Emanuele Manieri make great this part of the region so that it is possible to speak of a real “Baroque way” made up of Lecce, Galatina, Galatone, Nardò and Gallipoli.
For those who love bright and imaginative scenarios, Lecce, with its overwhelming beauty, is a suitable destination. Its buildings, built with the famous local stone, suggestively reflect the sun’s rays, giving more charm to its streets. In fact, from a color that turns to yellow during the day, Lecce transforms with the passing of the hours, taking on, at sunset, orange and soft tones and further changes once illuminated by artificial lights.
Lecce is defined by the many The “Florence of the South”, it is a city whose palaces and religious architecture are embellished with decorations and frames so to become a real work of art. Examples are the Duomo’s Cathedral and Palazzo dei Celestini’s convent, with its many adorned windows and its portal decorated with cherubs and fruit clusters. Piazza Duomo is enchanting, made up not only of the Cathedral, but also of the facade of the great Bishop’s Palace and the Seminary. The most beautiful religious structure in the city is Santa Croce’s Church with its rose windows, cherubs, columns and pilasters, flowers, fruits and animal figures and various other elegant details. Following the Barocco’s Via, the view opens on the Galatina’s architectural beauties, with its Mother Church and the Doge’s Palace, and on Galatone with the Sanctuary in which the main altar is made of Lecce’s stone.
Continuing on this road you can reach the village of Nardò whose historic center witness its artistic vocation mainly in Piazza Salandra overlooked by various Baroque churches such as San Trifone, Sant’Antonio, San Domenico’s Church and the Osanna’s monument. The trip last destination can be represented by Gallipoli which is not only a popular goal for its beaches but also for its Baroque monuments such as the Cathedral and the Seminary Palace.
Olive Groves and Beauty: The Masserie
The Apulian hinterland is characterized by a centuries-old olive trees, by the lush spontaneous vegetation and by the intense aromas of figs and gorse. The area is also known for its architectural beauties telling a story of peasant’s tradition and culture, of artistic depth and decorations, of crenellated towers and fortifications: the Masserie.
These structures were configured as real autonomous villages where the main activities consisted of raising livestock and working the land. However, the farms located a few kilometers from the coasts, were real control towers to defend the territory.
The Masserie, built between the 16th and 17th centuries in Murgia, in the Itria’s Valley and in Bari, Taranto, Brindisi and Lecce’s countryside, are simple and minimal and have been converted into accommodation facilities, particularly suitable for weddings.
Greenery immersed, the farms follow the typical Mediterranean construction scheme with a fortified wall, useful for defending the territory from the brigands attacks, and an agricultural courtyard overlooked by various buildings, such as religious chapels. Due to their structure, the Masserie are particularly suitable for the celebration, in fact, in its rooms, they can host the various moments of the wedding ceremony, from the ritual to the reception, giving the newlyweds a fable full of history and ancient charm.
The tuff construction makes bright the Masserie all daytime making it suggestive in the evening.
Who choose these full of charm places can count on the region’s excellence and professionalism that making of these structures real artworks, rich in perfumes and warmth.
Customs Between Tradition and Superstition
Apulia’s Marriage Uses, Customs and Traditions
Legend says that the Apulian wedding is endless. A full experience for the spouses, friends and relatives who are called to actively participate in a series of rituals: serenades, dances, dinners, ceremonies and lunches that become other dinners. Everything is characterized by the conviviality and food, so that the wedding favor itself is a tray of sweets.
Another tradition is linked to the “mezzana”, a messenger from the pretender’s family who had the task of going to the girl’s family home “bringing honor and asking for honor”. If they consented, then the rites and celebrations would have started in a big way, from the engagement party to the wedding.
The Premarital Rites
Puglia is a land strongly attached to the past traditions and still many customs relate to the weddings that characterize the days preceding the rite. The whole community participates to the wedding which is celebrated collectively and with joy.
First of all, friends and family, waiting for the spouses personally come to deliver the participation, and another custom consists in the serenade to the bride, taking place a few days before the wedding.
The Wedding Day
On the wedding day, the guests go to the bride’s house to await the moment of her departure. The house is set up for the occasion with a rich buffet consisting of traditional sweets and typical local specialties. In the room, the bride receives a gold necklace from her mother-in-law that symbolizes the bond that will unite them and, once ready, she will go in the living room to be admired by guests in all her splendor.
A lovely moment is the exit from the home. The bride, accompanied by her father, performs the ritual of cutting the white ribbon that marks the beginning of a new life. From the house, a festive procession accompanies the bride through the village’s streets until the church.
The procession will be reformed at the end of the ceremony towards the reception site. The row of cars is noisy and joyful and the din custom has its roots in the ancient superstition that believed the noise chased away evil spirits.
The Apulian wedding, which continues until late night, takes place in suggestive places such as farms, castles, sandy and golden beaches or large villas overlooking the sea. During the ceremony there are different touching moments: the bride’s dance with her father and the bouquet toss and garter throwing.
The protagonist of the first one is the bride who calls the unmarried female guests to take the bouquet of flowers which she will shortly throw behind her: who will be able to take it will be the next to get married. The garter throwing, however, is up to the groom. After removing the garter from his bride, the man throws it towards the unmarried male guests, even in this case, whoever takes it will be the next one to get married.
The cake cutting, combined with songs of popular tradition, is accompanied by spectacular fireworks.
The Apulian wedding is a collective rite, a party full of joy and symbols.
Discovering The Memory Of The Past
The land of Puglia testifies the memory of its past in fossils remains, in architecture, in its traditions. In the various natural grottoes of the Salento’s peninsula or in the Gargano’s area, various remains, dating back to the Middle and Upper Paleolithic, have been found. Very important, was the discovery of some bone statues in the Grotta delle Veneri in Lecce’s area. The presence of the artifacts would demonstrate the human presence and the existence of cults related to fertility.
Puglia, also thanks to its proximity to the Balkan and Greek regions, hosted several peoples of Illyrian origin, including the Dauni and Messapi, and also Greek. The Greeks created several cities including Taranto.
In the third century it was occupied by Rome. During the occupation, many infrastructure and public works were built. Thanks to the Roman occupation, for example, we have the built the Via Appia and Via Traiana which favored the mobility of goods and people within the region.
Also the Byzantines and Normans were in Puglia who maintained the control from the 11th to the 13th century. During this period agriculture had a strong impulse. Uncultivated lands were not left and since this period the long Apulian agricultural tradition began.
After the Normans and the Swabians, the Angevins and the Aragonese took turns. From that moment, the fate of the region is intertwined with the history of the Southern Italy other regions, until the advent of the Bourbons whose domination was interrupted with the unification of Italy.