An old fashioned journey through craft workshop to discover techniques and artifacts wich are both ancient and still modern, local and universal.
This is “Valle della Cupa”: a cradle of artists and artisans who carve the so-called “pietra leccese”, mold the clay, work the wrought iron, decorate clothes, and mold the papier-mâché. Then you can find one and only one interpretation of yourself and your own land in every knick-knack, piece of furniture, sculpture, or needlework, as a result of research, manual skills, and fancy.
Your journey starts in the small village of Merine, where the ancient art of papier-mâché is handed down by the experienced hands of old men which still create precious articrafts. You will be enchanted by the papier-mâché production which will lead you in the far eighteenth century that was characterized by huge masterpieces that now you can see in every church you will find in every village.
Few kilometers to the south, you will arrive at Lizzanello where modern exponents of local handicraft reproduce the complex architecture of “Barocco leccese”. Here you can discover the virtues of “pietra leccese” (an easy-to-mold limestone) which is still the raw material of modern design objects, such as holy ornamentations, big urban furniture works, sculptures, and lamps with very languid and basic shapes. Before carrying on with your journey, let your mind wander thanks to the dainty vincotto, the cooked grape must with very important therapeutic qualities, as well as gastronomic ones!
Go on, then, towards the nearby village of Cavallino where you will meet with the smith masters well known for their iron furnishing accessories and forged and hand-painted sculptures. Stop and admire artists of wrought iron which are able to forge this tough material as if it was clay. Do not forget to take a break to taste all sort of typical fresh pasta!
From here your journey will bring you through San Cesario in the centre of Lequile where you will appreciate women creative craftsmanship who decorate esteemed clothes with the traditional techniques of “filet”, “punto antico”, “intaglio”, and “tombolo”.
When you arrive in the near village of San Pietro in Lama, you will not resist tasting the typical pastries and sweets of Salento, like the cupeta (almond brittle) and mustazzoli (almond biscuits coated with chocolate). There you will have the chance to visit the artisans’ workshop and discover the local tradition of clay modelling. In each workshop, you will watch the artisans modelling clay to make vases, sculptures and design objects, sometimes modern in style, but always hand-painted.
During your journey, go for a walk in the centre of the villages and visit the ancient buildings and the most beautiful churches in the Valle della Cupa. You will likely discover the great masterpieces made by the artisans and sculptors of the XVII and XVIII centuries (Baroque altars, tabernacles, pulpits, wooden stalls and gorgeous domes coated with multi-coloured tiles), which prove the immortality of an art arisen inside the artisans’ workshops.