Type of itinerary: Historical - cultural
Start at: Mesagne
Arrive to: Francavilla Fontana
Route Length: 18 km
Time required: 5 ore
To be travelled: By car
Road surface: Asphalt and dirt
Municipalities crossed: Francavilla Fontana, Latiano e Mesagne
The route crosses three Municipalities (Mesagne, Latiano and Francavilla Fontana) and we can start following it either from the eastern or from the western boundary of the Terra dei Messapi.
We will simulate arrival in the Terra dei Messapi at the nearest transport exchanges (port, airport and railway station) of the very close Brindisi, just 12 kilometres away. For this reason our journey will start from Mesagne. After a visit of the centre, for details of which you are referred to the “Mesagne: Heart of Stone” itinerary, we take the SP45 for Latiano and continue along a road with signs for cyclists which leads to the archaeological park of Muro
Tenente. The site located on the border between the Municipalities of Mesagne and Latiano is an important testimony of the existence of Messapi civilisations in the Salento. After this the route leads to Latiano (the features of which we have already illustrated in the previous itinerary “At a slow pace through the olive groves”).
Once we arrive in the town of Museums and the Blessed Bartolo Longo we can visit the historic centre, the Palazzo Imperiali (Castle) and the town Museums.
From here we can continue along the Via Appia towards Francavilla Fontana or northwards (at the cemetery) towards Ceglie Messapica.
Following the Via Appia, at about one kilometre from the centre, in an olive tree wood, we find the Sanctuary of the Madonna di Cotrino. Moving towards the north-west towards Ceglie
Messapica, we take the road that flanks Latiano cemetery through beautiful expanses of monumental olive trees, dried stone walls and trulli. Going on, still in a northerly direction, along the main dirt track, after a few kilometres we come to San Vito dei Normanni; if, instead, you decide to turn back, you are advised to turn left, and continuing along a dirt road, which later becomes asphalted, you can visit the rupestrian settlement of Grottole and the farmhouse with the same name, which, although private property, is home to a large number of tools and equipment once used for working the fields. Continuing the route towards the west we come to Francavilla Fontana (“Golden curls”). Here there are many opportunities to discover the territory, where, in addition to natural beauties, we find numerous dry stone structures built by man, such as walls, specchie, trulli and rural churches. All the result of the search over the centuries for something very rare, the sense of the beautiful, which has made this land unique.