Non-repayable Grants for Real Estate Investments in Salento (PIA and MiniPIA)

The PIA Turismo and MiniPIA Turismo announcements from the Puglia Region are strategic initiatives recently promoted by regional planning with the aim of improving the quality standards of the tourism sector. Both are already active and will remain so until 31/12/2027.

 

Beneficiaries:

MiniPIA MiniPIA is aimed at Micro and Small enterprises in the tourism sector, including newly established ones, business networks or consortia, as well as self-employed professionals, equated to small businesses as economic operators, according to Article 12, Law 22 May 2017, no. 81. At the time of application, self-employed professionals must have a VAT number. The incentives cover investments ranging from 30,000 to 5 million euros (the previous funding cap, Title II, was 2 million euros).

PIA PIA is intended for SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), business networks (composed of at least 5 enterprises), and medium and large-sized enterprises. Investments must range between 5 and 40 million euros. Small businesses must demonstrate an average turnover of at least 1 million euros in the last three years or have commercial agreements with 4-star hotel management brands.

 

Eligible Structure Types The call allows for the request of contributions up to 60% of eligible costs for investments in various tourist structures, including:

  • Hotels
  • Motels
  • Hotel villages
  • Historical residences
  • Hotels with wellness centers
  • Condo hotels
  • All non-hotel categories such as B&Bs, resorts, holiday homes, hostels, and outdoor accommodation facilities like tourist villages and vacation parks are excluded from the list. An exception is made for tourist-residential hotels (residences) operating for at least 6 months, and existing B&Bs created within a farmhouse or a previously uninhabited historic building. The properties must be in compliance with cadastral and urban planning regulations.

 

Objectives: The aim of this incentive is to enhance the territory through the development of essential services and products for the cultural and natural promotion of the Region. The ways to achieve this goal are manifold:

  • Expanding and improving the quality standards of the tourism offer;
  • Improving tourist services with a green and ecological approach;
  • Enhancing environmental accessibility and safety;
  • Digitizing tourism enterprises;
  • Advancing the tourism enterprise 4.0;
  • Training operators for the development of digital and other skills;
  • Qualifying and supporting regional employment, especially female employment in this sector.

 

Fundable Initiatives and Eligible Expenses PIA and MiniPIA Turismo financing does not include the construction of new buildings but the recovery of existing buildings to be converted into hotel activities or the improvement of already operational hotel structures. 90% of the financing concerns real estate assets, and 10% concerns process innovation activities, supported by a report produced by Universities or authorized bodies.

MiniPIA Investments between 30,000 and 5 million euros may concern:

  • The creation of new tourist or non-hotel accommodation facilities (with at least 5 rooms) in existing buildings;
  • Extraordinary maintenance, consolidation, restoration, and conservative rehabilitation of historic or abandoned buildings. For historic buildings, if the building in question is regularly inhabited, a "historicity certification" must be issued by the Superintendent for Cultural Heritage, while if the building has been uninhabited for at least three years, certification from a technician is sufficient;
  • Recovery of rural buildings, farmhouses, trulli, towers, fortifications, period houses, and farmhouses: they can be renovated for hotel purposes without the need for "historicity certification" but must have at least 5 rooms;
  • Expansion, modernization, and renovation of existing hotel structures;
  • Creation or modernization of beach establishments, campsites, and tourist moorings;
  • Creation, expansion, or improvement of sports infrastructure and theme parks.

PIA Investments between 5 and 40 million euros may concern:

  • New tourist and non-hotel accommodation facilities with at least 7 rooms in existing buildings;
  • Expansion, modernization, and renovation of existing hotel structures;
  • Creation of hotel structures in historic buildings;
  • Improvement of the territorial tourist offer to promote the desegregation of tourist flows.

 

Eligible expenses include:

  • Land value and its improvements;
  • Construction works and similar;
  • Machinery, plants, furnishings, and equipment;
  • Preliminary feasibility studies, design, and work management;
  • Patents, licenses, know-how, and technology transfers;
  • Software programs;
  • Wage costs for new hires.

 

These productive investment plans must be integrated with at least one investment of an energy, digital, technological, and waste management nature:

  • Projects of managerial, organizational, technological, and strategic innovation for tourism enterprises;
  • Training projects for the qualification of skills related to digital transformation, sustainable tourism, ecological transition, green conversion, related to the regional smart specialization strategy;
  • Investments aimed at environmental protection.

 

For SMEs, the investment plan for the incentive may also include:

  • Specialist consulting programs, including internationalization;
  • Expenses for participation in fairs.

 

Financial Incentives For PIA and MiniPIA, the non-repayable grant varies based on the size of the company but generally will fund 45% of the total investment, with the possibility of adding an additional 15% derived from the tax credit thanks to the provisions of the ZES Unica (from January 1, 2024, the special economic zone for Southern Italy – ZES unica, which includes Puglia, is established).

 

Disbursement Methods The bureaucratic process to request PIA and MiniPIA is divided into three phases:

  1. Access phase: submission of the application on the Puglia Region's online platform. It is specified that when submitting the application, the property must already be owned or, to demonstrate availability of the property, a preliminary sale agreement with a 10% down payment on the purchase price must be in place.
  2. Evaluation phase: assessment of the application by Puglia Sviluppo.
  3. Project presentation phase: submission of the final project within 60 days of admission.

Funds will be disbursed on a first-come, first-served basis. The first-come, first-served evaluation procedure examines funding requests in the order of application submission. Once the allocated funds are exhausted, the evaluation process stops. The first-come, first-served procedure does not automatically imply that the order of arrival is the only determining factor. In some calls, there are precedence criteria (e.g., for youth or female enterprises), and in all cases, it is still necessary to pass the formal eligibility assessment.

The form of aid is a non-repayable grant. Non-repayable grants are probably the most well-known and appreciated form of subsidized finance by companies. It is a monetary provision that is not subject to any obligation of repayment. Non-repayable grants are generally (but not necessarily) granted in return for the submission of a specific project, in the form of a contribution in percentage terms of the total expenses presented in the application. A small example: the company participates in a call that grants non-repayable sums for 40% of the total presented projects. If the project involves a total cost of 100,000 euros, this means that a sum of 40,000 euros will be granted, which will not have to be repaid.

There are conditions, as the plan presented must be adhered to, or expenses anticipated, which will then be reimbursed, and moreover, the tourism-hotel use of the property must remain active for at least 3 years from the moment of its opening.

If you wish to renounce the funding after already submitting the application, there are two cases: if the practice is already advanced, i.e., accepted and the funding disbursed, it will be necessary to return the received sum plus interest, otherwise, if the application has not yet received a response, it will be sufficient to make a formal renunciation.

To ensure that PIA and Mini PIA applications are adequately and completely submitted, it is advisable to rely on an expert in the sector, someone who meticulously and carefully manages the funding request. A renowned professional, especially for this kind of operation, is the Chartered Accountant Marco De Marco, with an office in Lecce at Via Giovanni Gentile no. 6, who, in recent years with the Title II funding, and now with PIA and Mini Pia Turismo, is helping numerous entrepreneurs navigate the bureaucratic process and realize their projects.

 

Fundable Properties in Salento The Salento real estate market is rich in historic and ancient properties to be restored and recovered, which could be the subject of Mini PIA Turismo funding, not only by local companies but also by out-of-region or foreign companies, which see Salento as an increasingly attractive investment area.

One of the purposes of the funding is to give new life to these properties full of traditions, which with their architectural elements deeply characterize the territory, making Salento appreciated worldwide not only for its natural resources. We have a heritage with great tourist-economic potential, and the main goal is to realize and align it with current market demands, without neglecting environmental sustainability.

Currently, on our portal www.immobilinelsalento.com, we offer properties for sale that could be subject to Mini PIA Turismo funding. Here are some examples:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusions Those involved in tourism in Salento today have an additional resource to draw from to ensure that the historical-architectural heritage of this territory is recovered and brought to new life, also boosting the local economy. In recent years, there has been a trend, especially among foreign and out-of-region visitors, in search of the original Salento, with the first step of their journey being the search for accommodation that fully reflects the historicity and originality of the place. There is still much work to be done, but the recovery process is on the right track, with careful restoration to details and customer demands, aimed at rediscovering the most authentic Salento.


The Via Francigena in Salento: let's discover the itineraries between history, nature and architecture

Historically, Via Francigena, or rather Vie Francigene, refers to a group of streets that connected the territories dominated by the Franks (now France and Germany) to Rome in medieval times. Today we talk about Vie Francigene also to indicate those cultural itineraries towards Rome, intended for modern pilgrimage and sustainable tourism.

The saying "all roads lead to Rome" can ironically give an idea of ​​how many Vie Francigene there are on a theoretical level. The history of this path has its origins in the Middle Ages, when pilgrims had to reach one of the peregrinationes majores, to get to Jerusalem, Santiago or Compostela. The pilgrims' journey, in fact, started from Southern Italy to reach Northern Europe or, on the contrary, began in Rome to reach Puglia, where they embarked for the Holy Land. In fact, pilgrims in the Middle Ages started from their home and traveled not only the 'road' network of the time, but also all those paths and pavements which least exposed them to the risk of assault or accidents but which at the same time passed through places where it was possible receive hospitality and food.

The Via Francigena in Salento extends along the heel of the boot for approximately 120 km: a journey into the culture of this strip of land which boasts countless unmissable stops, between the main cities such as Lecce and Otranto, the thousand-year-old city that looks to the East, admiring fascinating architectural works, passing through villages and countryside, where there is no shortage of ancient testimonies of pilgrimage stages.

 

Alto Salento, the origins of the route

The route starts from the city, or rather from the port of Brindisi, and one of the symbolic elements are the Two Columns of the Appian Way, arrival for those who had to leave for the Holy Land, or departure for those who had to go to Rome. For a long time the columns were considered terminals of the Appian Way, but the placement of the columns on the rise overlooking the port of Brindisi, and the relationship with the view of the mouth of the same, demonstrate that they were raised with a celebratory intent, perhaps to support of two bronze statues.

Another obligatory stop for anyone passing through Brindisi is the Church of San Giovanni al Sepolcro, very ancient, from the Norman age (11th century), built on several layers of the city's history. It is a small re-enactment of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, with a circular plan to indicate the circularity of life and spirituality that rises upwards, accompanied by cycles of frescoes and carved capitals.

Continuing the journey, close to Torchiarolo, we find Valesio, an ancient city that was first Messapian, then Roman, then Byzantine, which remained in existence until the year 1000 AD. approximately as a medieval village, then uninhabited, literally crossed by the Via Traiana-Calabra. It is a very important city in antiquity, where many excavations have yet to be carried out, but in which many coins from various parts of the Mediterranean have been found so far, and this makes us understand that this place was the hub of exchanges, commerce and passage of people from many different places, which still has a lot to tell.

On the stretch of road that leads us from Valesio towards Surbo, we come across a historical-architectural asset of great value, which since 2012 has been managed directly by the FAI

(Italian Environment Fund), namely the Abbey of Santa Maria a Cerrate.Dating back to the 11th century, although according to archaeological excavations  was enlarged until it became one of the most important monastic centers in southern Italy: in 1531, when it came under the control of the Hospital of Incurables of Naples, the complex included, in addition to the church, stables, accommodation for the farmers, a well, a mill, two underground oil mills. The sacking of Turkish pirates in 1711 plunged the entire center into a state of complete abandonment which continued throughout the 19th century. Today, after a complex restoration, the Abbey can be visited again and represents a splendid example of Apulian Romanesque architecture embellished with important frescoes that make it unique in the Byzantine world. there were previous settlements, during the 12th century it was also a center of production (especially of cereals), and was inhabited by Byzantine monks who were fleeing from Turkish persecution in Byzantium. The locality was an important religious and cultural hub. the Abbey

In the countryside of Lecce, on the border with the municipality of Surbo, there is another very important stop on the Via Francigena Salentina, namely the Church of Santa Maria d'Aurìo.

Dating back to the 12th century, it is the oldest architectural testimony of the medieval farmhouse of Aurìo, which disappeared between the 15th and 16th centuries. The church was another place that was crossed before arriving in Lecce, and in addition to being full of crosses, a distinctive and characterizing sign of the passage of pilgrims, it also has a series of boats engraved on its facade, and this is a sign that the pilgrims they were preparing for the journey to go to the holy land and had to cross the Adriatic. The vast majority of these travellers, especially those who came from northern Europe, had never seen the sea, and the experience of navigation was terrifying for them, because it happened that due to rough seas and storms, ships were shipwrecked and pilgrims died. drowned. The design of the ship was engraved almost like a votive offering, to ensure that the church protected their journey. In the event that they managed to arrive from the east to Salento, after crossing the stormy sea, the engraving became an ex-voto for the grace received.

 

From Lecce towards south Salento

At the entrance to Lecce we are welcomed by the former Olivetan Monastery, and the ancient monastery, more than a secluded place, was a strategic site, chosen in the 12th century by Tancredi d'Altavilla, the last Norman count of Lecce, to build a sumptuous religious complex, assigning it to the Benedictine Order. The abbey aroused amazement from the beginning due to its magnificence and the church, dedicated to Saints Niccolò and Cataldo, reached "the highest level" among medieval architecture in the Terra d'Otranto. In 1494 the Olivetans (Benedictines of Monte Oliveto) arrived, replacing the pre-existing community, now in extinction. While the church was preserved and enriched, the convent was rebuilt in majestic form.

The Via Francigena passes through Lecce, where the Church of San Nicolò dei Greci is located in the historic center.
It is a Salento church built above an ancient church dating back to the 9th century, of which the ancient crypt and the apse part still exist. Ancient paintings are still present in the crypt. The small church was called the “Church of San Giovanni del Malazio” and at a certain point it had been abandoned. In the rear part of the church there is a cistern, which collected the waters of an aquifer of the Idume river, the river of Lecce.

Proceeding towards the fortified city of Acaya, and crossing the countryside of Melendugno, you arrive in the area of ​​Grecìa Salentina, and one

of the places most frequented by travelers was that of Carpignano Salentino, where the baroque Parish Church from the 16th century stands out, which houses the Crypt of Santa Cristina dug into the tuff between the 8th and 9th centuries. The Crypt is the only place from this era where the client and the fresco painter are known, as their names are mentioned in the numerous writings in Greek that cover the walls of the crypt. The frescoes on the walls, which are more than a thousand years old, have been preserved very well and the crypt is the only case in the entire Mediterranean where we have such a wealth of data. This type of frescoes continues to remind us that at the time, for those crossing the Via Francigena, the main point of reference was Constantinople, where Greek was spoken.

We continue between ancient farms and a lush pine forest until we cross the village of Cànnole, where we find the Village of Torcìto, which was initially a village, then in the 12th
century it became a Masseria, to which over the years further structures were added, such as the dovecote tower and the Church dedicated to San Vito. The Masseria di Torcìto is surrounded by lush vegetation, which has accompanied it over the centuries, and which today has given life to the Torcìto Natural Park, much appreciated by trekking enthusiasts.

We then arrive at the eighteenth-century Sanctuary of Monte Vergine in Palmariggi, which houses a precious crypt from the Byzantine period, on whose eastern side there was an altar containing a half-length fresco of the Madonna with the Baby Jesus in her arms.

Giurdignano follows with its "Megalithic Garden", an area rich in dolmens and menhirs, and we remember in particular the San Paolo Menhir, another stop on the Francigena route, where a crypt was excavated inside the rocky spur, probably from the Byzantine, inside which you can see a fresco representing the taranta, a poisonous spider that bit women, the so-called tarantate, of whom Saint Paul is the protector.

In the smallest municipality in the whole of Salento, Giuggianello, still between dolmens and menhirs, there is the ancient Masseria Quattro Macine, a Byzantine settlement dating back to the 7th century, attacked by the Turks over the years, rebuilt, used as a post station, tobacco factory, farm .

 

We then enter the gully of the Idro Valley, and pass through the Grotta di Sant'Angelo, a partly destroyed church-crypt, where some traces of the frescoes that decorated the walls of the cave are still evident, representing sacred figures, people in tunics, the faces of two women, and saints. Although the frescoes are difficult to identify today, the Sant'Angelo cave is undoubtedly one of the most evocative and interesting in the entire Idro valley.

We then head to the center of Otranto with the splendid Cathedral of S.Maria Annunziata, built on the remains of a Messapian village, a Roman domus and an early Christian temple, it was founded in 1068. It is a synthesis of different architectural styles including Byzantine, early Christian and Romanesque elements. The 13th century frescoes were almost all destroyed by the Turkish invasion of 1480. However, the precious mosaic floor remains intact, executed between 1163 and 1165, of great scenic impact due to the large decoration representing scenes from the Old Testament, chivalric cycles, medieval bestiaries. The images, arranged along the development of the Tree of Life, retrace the human experience from original sin to salvation. The crypt is very particular from an architectural point of view, which dates back to the 11th century and is a miniature of the famous Cistern of Theodosius or the Mosque of Cordoba. It has three semicircular apses and is characterized by forty-eight bays interspersed with over seventy columns, semi-columns and pillars. The singularity lies in the diversity of the support elements, coming from ancient and early medieval buildings, from the various figurative repertoire. The surviving frescoes which span a chronological span from the Middle Ages to the sixteenth century are of great value.

No less important is the Church of San Pietro, also in Otranto, it is one of the most representative medieval buildings of the South of the Byzantine building tradition and remains the highest and most vivid expression of Byzantine art in Puglia. The sacred building probably represented the first basilica of the city, elected metropolis in 968 and directly dependent on the patriarchal seat of Constantinople. Its dating has long been the subject of debate among scholars, but from the analysis of the structure, the frescoes and the inscriptions in Greek, it seems attributable to the 9th-10th century. In the three apses at the back there are splendid Byzantine-style frescoes dating back to the 10th-11th century

After passing Cocumola, where the Menhir of the Cross stands in Via Savoia 26, you walk among pine forests and olive groves up to Vignacastrisi.

It is then the turn of Andrano, in whose countryside we find the Crypt of Attàrico; it is believed that from the 8th to the 10th century the cave hosted Basilian monks, and two frescoes are still present. Initially as a refuge, and later as a spiritual hermitage, the monks in the meantime moved to the nearby abbey of Santa Maria del Mito, a cultural center and totally self-sufficient farm, located between the fiefdom of Tricase and that of Andrano.

 

The final destination

The route of the Via Francigena Salentina is almost over, and about 1 km from Santa Maria di Leuca, near today's Masseria Coppola, on the SS 275, the last stop was the ancient Cappella dei Lazzari, where illnesses were treated . Built in the 14th century. by the Grand Dukes of Tuscany for the Florentine sailors, who frequented the port of Leuca in large numbers, unfortunately it no longer exists.

The last stop, and undoubtedly the most significant, is in Santa Maria di Leuca, at the Basilica – Sanctuary S. Maria de Finibus Terrae, which has its roots in the early days of Christianity. It stands where there had been the temple dedicated to the goddess Minerva of which, upon entering the church, on the right, an relic is preserved: the altar or a part of it, on which sacrifices were offered to the goddess. Tradition has it that the apostle Peter in 43 AD. he landed in Puglia to return to Rome after his journey to the East. On this occasion, the temple was dedicated to the Savior and
converted into a Christian sanctuary. It was precisely here, in fact, that Saint Peter began his work of conversion, starting from the Salento population and then continuing throughout the West. The testimony of the apostle's passage is the Petrina Cross placed in front of the Sanctuary. Only at a later time was it consecrated to Santa Maria di Leuca. Precisely because of its highly coveted position, the sanctuary was unfortunately targeted numerous times over time, in particular by the Turks and Saracens, as an indirect attack on the Christian religion. It was destroyed five times, the last of which in 1720. The numerous reconstructions obviously gave the Sanctuary a different appearance from the original one, but the faithful wanted to maintain the structure of the perimeter walls.

 

Conclusions

The path we followed takes us back in time thousands of years, and allows us to understand and discover the most ancient origins of the architectural beauties that dot the route of the Via Francigena Salentina, starting from small treasure chests, such as the crypts, up to arrive at immense treasures, such as abbeys and farms.

They are places that are still part of our present today, and which will enrich our future.


Rebirth of the former tobacco factories in Salento: a story of reuse and renewal

Introduction and diffusion of tobacco in Italy

The cultivation of tobacco in the heel of Italy has rather remote origins and has characterized the life of many families and farmers in Salento for a long time. According to sources, tobacco was grown as early as the eighteenth century. At the time, there were two types of tobacco: Kotor (dry-grown and irrigated) and Brazil (constantly irrigated). Both were used as snuff (mostly) and smoking (for the production of cigars), and were much appreciated by high society and the clergy of the time.

The very first tobacco growers were the mendicant friars, but it was the Venetian merchants and the Spanish who introduced it to the Terra d'Otranto. When the volumes produced became truly large, cultivation passed into the hands of the Kingdom of Italy. This happened at the beginning of the nineteenth century, when tobacco was widely spread in the Lecce countryside, in some villages down towards Capo di Leuca, but also towards Mesagne, Oria, Francavilla.

With the advent of the government tobacco monopoly, things changed. The farmers of Salento stopped seeing tobacco as a source of income: the real profit went to the landowners and the state. And the hours of work invested in tobacco production were so many that they did not receive adequate economic compensation. Among the varieties of cattaro in Salento, the one from Lecce stood out. It was a shorter plant than the others, with 22 leaves, the market particularly loved its fragrance and aroma. The village curly cattaro was also highly prized: its leaves were longer. In addition to these two types, others were soon added, coming from America, but also from Herzegovina.

The story would still be long and complex. But to be concise, let's get to the twentieth century. In this historical period, there were few families in the province of Lecce who had concessions for the cultivation and processing of tobacco. During the First World War, tobacco processing was entrusted to women, the famous "tabacchine", who were employed occasionally and without too many guarantees. It is no coincidence that there was no shortage of agitation to request that the amount of the piecework wage be revised.

 

The life of tobacconists and farmers of Salento

Over time, and also as a consequence of the olive and vine crisis of that period, the tobacco industry continued to expand. On the one hand it was an advantage: especially in the summer months, the cultivation of tobacco made it possible to significantly stem the problem of unemployment. On the other hand, tobacconists continued to receive a meager wage, with which they contributed minimally to the family income. And not only that: we almost always worked in precarious hygienic and sanitary conditions. Life in the tobacco factory was tough and the teacher (a female supervisor) made sure that no one spoke or wasted time in any way. The threat was always that of dismissal.

 

From sowing to harvesting, up to stringing the leaves

The cycle of tobacco cultivation by tobacconists in Salento began with the sowing process, which required expert hands, and took place in the so-called "ruddhre", i.e. a portion of land used for cultivation. This rectangle of land was worked to be leveled, with the rake, inside which an expanse of organic fertilizer was deposited. Subsequently, the tobacco seeds, mixed with the ash, were thrown onto the ground and then watered. Once ready for tobacco cultivation, they were uprooted from the root and then collected in "cascette", small wooden boxes, covered with a jute cloth and then transplanted onto new soil.

The harvest took place at the first light of dawn: a job that involved entire families, even children. In particular, 4 to 5 cycles were carried out to harvest the tobacco leaves, in order to perfectly clean the entire plant. All of this, approximately, in a week.

Once collected and arrived home, we sat in a circle and began the fundamental phase of threading, the "'nfilatura". This process consisted of threading the leaves along a large steel needle (the "cuceddhra") and then passing the string through the eye. Once all the threads were filled with tobacco leaves, they were hung on the frames and the sun drying phase could finally begin. The loom is called "tiralettu" and, once the sun set, they were brought into the house.

Once the tobacco was ready, it was delivered to the "Manifattura te lu tabbaccu" in wooden crates covered with jute sheets.

 

Processing in the tobacco factory

The tobacconists usually began their task towards the end of November when the tobacco leaves were now dry. They took care of their sorting, dividing them inside particular wooden crates by color and based on quality.

The tobacco leaves were put together and divided into small bunches and then pressed, while the other tobaccos formed the so-called "ballettes", arranged according to the weight and type of quality of the tobacco. Once this phase was completed we moved on to pressing, after which the leaves were placed in a wood stove to mature the tobacco with the heat.

There was a worker who supervised all these operations, or "the mescia" to check that there were no hitches or imperfections in the manufacturing processes. The balls were placed in a room in contact with sulphur, to avoid corrosion and after a few days placed in the warehouse for another inspection by the mescia. The tobacco leaves obtained were crumbled to create cigarettes and the tobacco obtained was taken to the Monopoly factories in order to evaluate the taste and flavor.

 

The sector is starting to show signs of suffering

From 1935 onwards, however, the sector began to show signs of suffering. The entire sector showed signs of decline for a wide range of reasons: the introduction of poor quality varieties, poor commercial capacity, the choice of unsuitable land, unfavorable weather conditions, poor preparation on the agricultural front, the lack of use of fertilizers and so on. Not to mention that the vine and olive tree were gaining ground. Towards the end of the 1930s the work began to be reorganised: from packaging methods to the processing of the leaves themselves, methods were changed and sometimes even a minimum of mechanization began to be introduced. These choices led to a reduction in manpower and necessary working hours, which resulted in a series of workers' revolts and trade union activities.

A recovery of the sector followed, thanks also to a series of measures issued specifically in favor of tobacco growers. We then reached the 1960s, when tobacco downy mildew appeared, a plant disease that seriously damaged the sector.

In 1970 the Monopoly regime fell: the tobacco growers were freed but, in fact, left in disarray. It was, in fact, the final blow to the sector, which ended its history in a short time.

 

Tobacco factories and their rebirth

A rather forgotten recent history, despite the socio-economic and cultural repercussions, which has left an incredible abandoned architectural heritage, today mostly in ruins in the Salento area. Many are buildings that go almost unnoticed, with a regular and simple structure, made of tuff, often also vaulted but small in size, sometimes newly built, and sometimes built on the basis of pre-existing buildings, such as farmhouses or farms. However, there are also warehouses larger than 1,000 m2 where the processing and storage of tobacco that flowed from extensive cultivations was concentrated. Factories that are true landmarks in the outskirts of the municipalities of Salento, up to the great works created in Lecce, the "Royal Tobacco Manufactures". What has become of this agro-industrial archeology today? Below are some approaches for the reuse and reconversion of an architectural heritage spread across the territory, which seeks specific answers according to the cases in regional financing with European funds linked to tourism, in the regional territorial landscape plan which catalogs it in the "System of agricultural factories food", in the 2015 regional law on the "Enhancement of industrial archeology heritage", in program agreements in variation of the PRG. But, above all, it is a heritage that would like to find a different future with the help of private individuals and, even more so, of institutions, so that it can be transformed from a problem into a great territorial opportunity, as farms and farms have already been in Puglia. rural artefacts.

Near the municipality of Veglie, between 1926 and 1928, as part of the reclamation of the Salento countryside wanted by the fascist regime, "Monteruga" was specifically founded, a real village, expanding a pre-existing farm, the whose aim was to create a thriving center for the production of tobacco, as well as oil and wine. Its architecture reflects the traditional one of the villages in the area in the first decades of the twentieth century. What is attractive is the fact that the entire village seems to have suddenly stopped in the last century and, although affected by the inevitable degradation of time, is overall quite intact and well preserved. We still find the tobacco warehouse, the oil mill, the silos, the Church of Sant'Antonio and the farmhouses. Towards the end of the 1970s it reached up to 800 inhabitants, only to suffer a rapid and drastic decline over the following decade, due to the privatization of the company and the division of the land. The Ministry of Culture has placed it under restriction as a "site of particularly important interest", and the hope is that this place will be recovered as soon as possible.

Some recent examples of former tobacco factories that have found new use, following a careful and respectful renovation, are: “La Masseria Diso – Il Tabacchificio”, one of the most renowned examples of luxury hospitality in this type of pre-existence; “The former tobacco factory of Taurisano”, now used as an exhibition space for works by contemporary artists; “Il Tabacchificio – Hotel” located in Gagliano del Capo.

Other former tobacco factories, however, are waiting to be brought back to life, and this is the very current case of a former tobacco factory located in southern Salento, in Castrignano del Capo. It is a structure dating back to 1800, whose original nucleus is that of a farmhouse dating back to 1600, entirely built with barrel and star vaults, distributed over two floors. The project for the recovery and conversion into a luxury accommodation facility, with an adjoining restaurant, is underway, respecting the local architecture and traditions of the place.

 

The future:

The recovery of former tobacco factories is not only a question of architectural restoration, but also of preserving collective memory and promoting sustainable development. With the support of institutions and private investors, these buildings can become engines of growth for Salento, transforming a page of industrial history into a new chapter of prosperity and innovation.


The Charm of the Gardens in the Heart of Salento: Between History, Beauty and Nature

Introduction:

Salento is not only known for its natural, cultural and architectural beauty, but also for its enchanting gardens. For centuries, these green spaces have been an integral part of the social and architectural fabric of the region, reflecting the beauty, history and passion of its inhabitants. In this article, we will explore the definition of the garden and the importance of gardens in Salento, from the homes of the historic centers to the sumptuous noble palaces, from the hanging gardens to modern landscape interpretations.

 

Definition of Garden:

The garden, in the collective imagination, evokes a place of beauty, tranquility and rebirth. But it is much more than just a green space. It is an ever-evolving work of art, a refuge for the mind and spirit, a habitat for flora and fauna, and sometimes even an extension of the identity of those who create and care for it. In Salento, gardens take on different shapes and meanings, but they all share a deep connection with the history and culture of the region.

 

Gardens in Historic Centers:

The historic centers of Salento are often characterized by narrow paved streets and ancient homes that overlook secret courtyards and secluded gardens. These gardens, small hidden treasures, represent an oasis of tranquility in the heart of lively urban life. With their lush plants, fountains and stone benches, they offer a refuge from the hot summer sun and a meeting place for families and friends. Often there are citrus trees, which in spring with their flowers create an inebriating scent, and numerous succulent plants, resistant to sunny summer days.

 

Gardens of the Noble Palaces:

The noble palaces of Salento, evidence of the region's glorious past, are often surrounded by sumptuous Italian gardens. These gardens, designed with mathematical precision and enriched with statues, pergolas and fountains, were conceived as an ideal backdrop for aristocratic life. Today, some of these gardens have remained privately owned, and enriched with swimming pools and other contemporary elements, many others, however, are open to the public, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the grandeur of the past and the timeless beauty of nature.

 

Roof garden:

Especially in the historic centers of Salento, where the availability of green spaces is more limited, hanging gardens have become a solution for optimizing green space in a densely populated urban environment. Suspended between the walls of ancient cities, this type of gardens, with very ancient origins (around 590 BC), create a unique and evocative environment for anyone who has the privilege of visiting them. An example of this is the Palazzo Ducale of Presicce, which on the terrace boasts the presence of an Italian-style hanging garden of around 10 ares, enriched by a fountain and a belvedere, now always open to the public, as it is property of the Municipality of Presicce – Aquarium.

 

Gardens of the Villas:

The historic villas of Salento, places of holiday and leisure, are often surrounded by large landscaped gardens, where the art of gardening blends harmoniously with the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape. Here, among centuries-old trees, flower beds and shady paths, you can find corners of serenity and contemplation, far from the hustle and bustle of modern life. One of the richest examples is the one we find in the majestic villas of Santa Maria di Leuca, all built in the second half of the 19th century. These homes are mostly still privately owned, but for some years a day has been dedicated to public visits to their parks and gardens.

 

Modern Garden in Salento:

In contemporary Salento, the art of gardening continually evolves to respond to the needs and challenges of the modern world. Sustainable gardens, urban parks and multifunctional green spaces are emerging as new forms of landscape expression, offering not only aesthetic beauty, but also environmental and social benefits for local communities.

 

“La Cutura” Botanical Garden:

Finally, we cannot talk about gardens in Salento without mentioning the "La Cutura" Botanical Garden, a hidden jewel located in the Giuggianello countryside, cited among the ten most beautiful gardens in Italy. Founded in 1986, this botanical garden has as its original nucleus an ancient farmhouse from the 1700s and its grounds, and today hosts an extraordinary collection of exotic and endemic plants from all over the world, blending wonderfully with the pre-existing architecture, creating a unique environment of discovery and wonder for botany enthusiasts of all ages.

 

Conclusions:

Gardens in Salento are much more than simple green spaces; they are living testimonies of the history, culture and timeless beauty of the region. From the ancient homes of the historic centers to the sumptuous noble palaces, from the hanging gardens to modern landscape interpretations, these enchanted places continue to inspire and enchant residents and visitors, offering a taste of the richness and diversity of Salento's natural and cultural heritage.


Villas, Casine, Casini. The architecture of suburban residences in Salento in the second half of the 18th century.

When we delve into talking about noble and ancient villas in Salento, first of all it is necessary to specify the reasons why these beautiful buildings were built. The Masserie are initially the places where the farmer lives to never move away from the countryside; the Casini, the Villas and the Casine are successive architectures that originate following the need of the landowner to temporarily move to live in the countryside.

 

Salento's economic delay and consequences on architecture

It is appropriate to say first of all that Salento has always been a relatively poor land and that the obstacles to development are and have been numerous: among these the presence of land used exclusively for grazing, the presence of vast areas of scrub, the presence of swamps and marshes, the spread of extensive cultivation, the invasions of the Turks, the persistence of backward cultivation techniques, the short-sighted attitude of landowners.
In the southern areas, during the eighteenth century, the olive growing crisis and the growing demand for wine on the European market led to a profound rural transformation.

 

The architecture begins to change following the spread of vineyards
The spread of the vineyard was to the detriment of olive groves and cereal cultivation and had a significant impact on new forms of rural construction. In fact, in the areas where this new culture spread most, there was a transformation of the landscape and the architecture of the homes. The vineyards, managed more complexly, required the constant presence of the farmer and, alongside the traditional farmhouse, the homes of the farmer, the sharecropper or the small owner were added.
In fact, the farms, although architecture aimed at the defense of the territory, are often enriched with elegant decorative elements such as monumental wells, sumptuous rooms and enormous fireplaces, coats of arms placed in plain sight, all elements borrowed from city architecture and which attribute to the fortified rural construction an aristocratic sign.
The farms were still far from real villas, typical of Northern Italy, or from the typology of the rustic villa of the Roman era. These are very often buildings of a monumental nature which, with their decorative features, mark the difference with the simple and poor homes of the farmers.

Baroque in the countryside
Starting from the second half of the eighteenth century, a compromise was reached between city and countryside. Thus it was that on the outskirts of the most important inhabited centers, such as Nardò and Lecce, and where there was the most fertile land, elegant residences arose which still today bear witness to the spread of the Baroque even in rural environments.
Therefore in this phase there were two parallel and contemporary processes of architectural development in the countryside: in many cases the old farms were revived, providing new decorations, various embellishments and often they built on top of the original structure, so much so as to deliberately mask the structural physiognomy of the ancient building; at the same time, villas, casinos, cottages and gardens were built from scratch.

The spread of the country casino is the confirmation of a new mentality, arising from the fact that the new bourgeoisie was aware of the fact that agriculture was the pillar of the economy.

 

Refuge in the countryside becomes a necessity
But beyond the purely economic interest, the fact remains that starting from the second half of the 1700s the need to move to the countryside only for a healthy retreat began to be felt. This exodus was then encouraged by the scarcity of food products and the continuous spread of epidemics due to the heavy rains that raged in the Lecce area.

 

The Villa and the Casina
The villa is usually an imposing building, belonging to noble families or in any case to the upper middle class, which features architectural friezes, is treated in detail and is surrounded by a park made up of ornamental plants, in order to make the stay more pleasant. It is almost always at the center of an agricultural activity, so, apart from rarer cases of purely holiday residences, in addition to the manor house, it contains rural blocks of flats such as the settlers' homes, stables, garages and factories. The villa, like the little house (very often the two terms are interchangeable) shows a detachment from the rural environment and the activities connected to it, as they are often richer buildings, surrounded by a park and preceded by shady avenues with ornamental plants. Here some architectural details are highlighted such as the columns at the entrance, the arches, the terraces and the staircases.

 

The Valley of Cupa
From a geographical point of view, the Valle della Cupa is made up of a large karst depression and has well-defined borders: in the center of the area is the city of Lecce and around a series of towns. Among others, the following are part of the Valle della Cupa area: Campi Salentina, Novoli, Carmiano, Arnesano, Monteroni, San Pietro in Lama, Lequile, San Cesario, Cavallino, Lizzanello. The fertility of the soil, the ease of access to water and the proximity to Lecce have already in ancient times made the Valle della Cupa one of the favorite destinations of the aristocracy of the capital. Due to their historical-artistic interest, many of the buildings within the area are under the protection of the Superintendence. Many noble families of the capital chose this landscape to build hunting or holiday residences. In the first outskirts of Lecce, near the road that leads to San Pietro in Lama, you can start the journey by visiting Villa Mellone, an enchanting noble residence dating back to 1784. The door and balustrades on the first and last floors ask you to look up to fully enjoy it. The private chapel and the garden call for a broader vision to appreciate its beauty, also pushing the gaze into the surrounding countryside. In the same area you can visit Villa Franchini. In Monteroni then the splendid Villa Cerulli and Villa Romano. The latter was chosen as a film set.

 

The Casino
The country casino represents the new relationship that was established between landowners and farmers. Less sumptuous than the villa, the casino is in fact a type of home that combines the settler's house with the owner's seasonal home. Stylistically sober, and without ornamental parks, this residence often has two floors: the ground floor occupied by the farmer or gardener with the tobacco processing rooms, the warehouses and the wine cellar, while the upper floor saw the real residence landowner's home.
It turns out that the terms casina and casino, even if used interchangeably, express different housing typologies and at the same time represent a different conception of the relationship with the countryside and with the farmer's family.

 

The garden
The so-called Garden is different in both form and function and is simpler in construction. More commonly we can say that the garden is the settler's home where the crops are grown, usually greens and greens, then sold on the markets of the inhabited centers or on site.
In most cases the garden is a very simple building system, with one or two bedrooms and a large living room with some rooms for storing work tools. There was also a stable where a few animals were raised with herbs from the garden. This dwelling was widespread especially in the outskirts of the city with modest land areas.

The rural architecture of Salento, which has survived to the present day in fair conditions, reflects the economic and social history of the region, with its peculiarities and the external influences that have shaped its evolution over the centuries. A magical journey, which allows us to discover a more recent phase of the history of Salento, but not without its charm.


Exploring the magic of the Notte della Taranta in Melpignano, in the heart of Grecìa Salentina

In the heart of the splendid Italian region of Salento, there is an event that enchants and fascinates: the Notte della Taranta in Melpignano. This fascinating musical show celebrates the rich culture and tradition of Grecia Salentina, an area in Puglia where a strong influence of Greek culture persists.

 

Deep Roots

Grecia Salentina is a linguistic and cultural area located in the southern part of Puglia, where Greek traditions have deep roots. Here, the Greco-Salento dialect, known as griko, is still spoken by many inhabitants. The region is famous for its rich cultural heritage, which is reflected in music, dance and traditional festivals.

The “Grecìa Salentina” is made up of nine municipalities: Calimera, Castrignano dei Greci, Corigliano d'Otranto, Martano, Martignano, Melpignano, Soleto, Sternatia and Zollino.

Sternatia is the town where the ancient dialect language of Greek origin, "griko", is today best known and spoken among the inhabitants.

In the historic center, we can find numerous courtyard houses, ashlar portals and the baronial residence of Palazzo Granafei. The precious monumental palace was built during the first part of the eighteenth century, although the frescoes inside are later and dated 1775. Inside it houses a sixteenth-century underground oil mill.

Nearby Soleto was, even before being a Greek city, an important center of the Messapian civilization, as evidenced by numerous tombs and the discovery of the ancient enclosure walls. With the advent of the Eastern Empire, it was also an episcopal seat. The historic center is very beautiful, which still retains its medieval structure with very narrow parallel and perpendicular streets, with baroque portals and Renaissance noble houses. The most important monument in all of Soleto is the so-called Raimondello Spire. It is a large bell tower, but without a bell and erected exclusively for ornamental purposes, an example of Gothic art in Salento.

From Soleto we can easily reach Zollino, where we can admire above all the religious architectural constructions.

We then reach the town of Martano, one of the largest Greek-influenced villages in this area.

However, its territory was already inhabited a long time before as evidenced by the prehistoric menhirs of Santu Totaru and Teofilo. It was in the medieval period that Greek influence arrived, being inhabited by colonists from the Eastern Roman Empire and the Greek rite was preserved until the end of the seventeenth century.

The Grike dialect and traditions, however, still survive today. The historic center of Martano shows some parts of the ancient city walls, and some historic noble palaces built between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries, the most beautiful example of which is probably that of Palazzo Moschettini, equipped with a large, finely decorated portal and a long balcony equally valuable.

From Martano we move to Martignano. The origins of this center could themselves date back to the Greek period, in one of the important junctions that Lecce led to Otranto and Nardò. The most important monuments it preserves are the Parish Church, the Clock Tower and the Bell Tower, all united in a single structure.

We then reach Calimera, a town in which the Greek origin is already directly inherent in its name. “Calimera” in fact means “good day” in Greek. The history of the small church of San Vito which stands just outside the town center, in the countryside, is evocative. This small church open only on Easter Monday has a large boulder inside with a hole in the middle. Tradition wanted people to pass through the forum to propitiate fertility according to an ancient pagan rite. The church was built around the boulder precisely to "Christianize" it too and thus prevent pagan rites from continuing to perpetuate themselves. However, the tradition has been preserved to this day and every Easter Monday many inhabitants of Calimera reach it to pass through the boulder.

Castrignano dei Greci. Here too, the origin is evident in the very name of the town, which is therefore thought to have been founded directly by a population coming from the Eastern Roman Empire and was certainly inhabited by the Byzantines between the 6th and 9th centuries.

On the other hand, the buildings of the time are no longer present and the most important monuments remain the nineteenth-century Parish Church of the Madonna SS. Annunziata and the sixteenth-century Gualtieri Castle, adapted as a baronial residence on an older pre-existing building.

Corigliano d'Otranto, also Greek from the 6th to the 9th century. Its ancient castle from 1465 (Castello dei Monti) resisted the terrible Turkish attack of 1480, so that it is still today a source of pride not only architecturally, but also purely historical. The visual impact is truly majestic, bringing to mind the classic concept of a "medieval castle": four towers at each corner, surrounded by a large moat which was once accessed via a drawbridge.

Not far from Castrignano lies Melpignano, today very famous due to the famous Notte della Taranta. This village was also inhabited by Greeks and the Greek rite was preserved until the sixteenth century.

In the historic centre, the beautiful Piazza San Giorgio is worth seeing, where the parish church, round-headed Renaissance porticoes and the Clock Tower built at the beginning of the twentieth century are located. Also important is the Church of the Virgin of Carmelo, with an imposing façade built in the mid-17th century and enriched with baroque details by Giuseppe Zimbalo. Finally, it is worth taking a trip to the seventeenth-century Palazzo Marchesale.

 

The Night of the Taranta: A Unique Experience

At the heart of this vibrant culture is the Notte della Taranta, an event that celebrates the traditional music of Salento, in particular tarantismo, an ancient healing ritual through music and dance. The event culminates with a large concert in the picturesque town of Melpignano, where musicians from all over the world come together to play pizzica, a traditional Salento musical genre.

 

The magical atmosphere of Melpignano

Melpignano offers the perfect setting for this extraordinary celebration. During the Notte della Taranta, the streets come alive with colours, sounds and scents, while visitors completely immerse themselves in the magical and engaging atmosphere.

 

An unforgettable experience

Participating in the Notte della Taranta is an unforgettable experience for anyone who loves music, dance and culture. Visitors can enjoy not only the main concert, but also a number of side events, such as pizzica lessons and performances by local artists. It is a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture and tradition of Salento, while creating an experience of sharing and celebration with people from all over the world.

 

Conclusions

The Notte della Taranta in Melpignano is much more than a simple concert; it is a journey through the history, music and culture of Salento. This magical event captures the essence of Grecia Salentina, offering visitors an authentic and unforgettable experience. If you are looking for cultural and musical adventures, there is no better place to be than here, in the heart of Puglia, during the Notte della Taranta.


The timeless charm of Salento architecture: a journey through the historic centers and local furnishings

In the heart of the splendid Italian region of Salento, a land rich in history, culture and natural beauty, there are hidden architectural treasures that tell millenary stories. The historic centers of Salento, with their narrow and winding streets, ancient squares and historic buildings, enchant visitors with their timeless atmosphere.

 

Salento Architecture: a cultural heritage

The architecture of Salento is a fascinating fusion of styles that reflect the many historical influences that have shaped this region over the centuries. From the remains of ancient Greek cities to the vestiges of Roman rule, from the testimonies of the Byzantine period to the Baroque era, Salento is home to a rich architectural heritage that stands out for its unique beauty and majesty.
The historic centers, such as those of Lecce, Gallipoli, Otranto and numerous other villages, present fascinating architecture characterized by imposing facades, elaborate details and intricate inlays in Lecce stone, a local limestone known for its softness and its ability to be carved with precision. Santa Maria di Leuca and the Valle della Cupa are two of the places with the greatest architectural expression of private luxury homes, which manifests itself in large Art Nouveau villas, still visible and partly visitable today.
Private homes are those that embody in the most authentic way the essence of the life and everyday life of the people who have populated these lands, treasure chests of their customs and their culture.
These homes range from the smallest and most humble, up to the large manor house, but although they differ from each other in size and details, they have a single common denominator: the star vault. The latter, created with skilful patience with the interlocking of tuff blocks, gives majesty to every environment, even the most humble.
Other elements that characterize the typical Salento houses are the courtyards, the courtyards, the gardens, the terraces, i.e. outdoor spaces where the exchange of daily life between families took place, who sometimes lived almost in symbiosis.

 

Traditional Furnishings: between history and modernity

Traditional Salento decor reflects the rich history and traditions of the region, with influences ranging from local craftsmanship to contemporary trends. Hand-carved solid wood furniture, colorful fabrics and ceramics decorated with traditional motifs are just some of the features of Salento furnishings that capture the attention and imagination of visitors.
Ceramic is a distinctive element, with its bright colors and designs inspired by nature and everyday life. Salento ceramics are often used to decorate plates, vases, tiles and art objects, adding a touch of color and originality to domestic environments.
The traditional houses of Salento are characterized by welcoming and rustic interiors, with floors in local stone or cement tiles, vaulted ceilings and whitewashed walls. The furniture is often custom-made by local artisans, using fine woods such as walnut, cherry and olive, and are often decorated with inlays and carvings that enhance their beauty and craftsmanship.

 

The modern reinterpretation of Salento aesthetics

In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in traditional Salento furniture, with many designers and interior designers reinterpreting traditional shapes and motifs in a modern way. This trend has led to the creation of contemporary furnishings inspired by the rich cultural heritage of Salento, which combine traditional materials with clean lines and innovative designs.
Salento's homes and public spaces increasingly reflect this fusion of tradition and modernity, with interiors that mix antique furniture with contemporary design pieces, and that celebrate local craftsmanship and traditional techniques alongside innovative and sustainable solutions.
In recent times, a lot of space has been given to the recovery of ancient objects, which, no longer being used for their original purpose, are given new life, with new uses and uses, as in the case of wooden ladders, now used as coat hangers or plant holders, and large amphorae, once used for storing wine and oil, which now embellish courtyards, gardens and living room corners.
Focusing attention on the materials used, in addition to the aforementioned Lecce stone, tuff, wood and ceramic, cotton, linen and wicker are widely used, manifested in tablecloths and curtains, chairs and baskets.

The dominant color is white, the only one capable of attenuating the heat of the summer sun of this land, accompanied by a palette that ranges from earth tones to pastel colors, up to the most lively and vibrant tones.
A minimal - chic furniture, therefore, with clean lines, but never too precise, which leaves room for the simple but refined shapes of craftsmanship.

 

Conclusions

The architecture and furnishings of Salento represent a precious cultural heritage that enchants and inspires visitors from all over the world. Through their timeless beauty and their ability to tell millenary stories, the historic centers and traditional interiors of Salento continue to be a source of inspiration for artists, designers and culture enthusiasts, helping to preserve and enhance the unique identity of this fascinating corner of Italy.


Financial benefits for large, medium and small businesses

PIA TURISMO 2015

What do the Facilitation Programs provide?

Finally, thanks to the notice of the official bulletin of the Puglia Region, large, medium and small businesses can apply through the online procedure "PIA TURISMO" made available at www.sistemapuglia.it to take advantage of financial endowments made available provision for real estate redevelopment projects.

Let's better define who the beneficiaries are:

• Large-sized companies in the ordinary accounting regime which, on the date of submission of the application, have approved at least two financial statements;

• Medium-sized companies under ordinary accounting which, on the date of submission of the application, have approved at least two financial statements;

• Small businesses under ordinary accounting which, at the start of the request, have approved at least three financial statements from which an average turnover of not less than 1 million euros can be distinguished;

In addition to the subsidies, initiatives such as investment programs for the realization of:

1. Tourist-hotel activities, thanks to the physical and efficient recovery of unfinished structures, started in a legitimate way, destined for tourist-hotel activities;

2. Expansion, modernization and restructuring of tourist-hotel structures in order to raise quality standards and / or classification;

3. Construction of tourist-hotel facilities with a capacity of no less than 7 rooms to be consolidated, restored and / or rehabilitated any buildings of an artistic and historical nature, which at the time of submitting the application, the Declaration of interest was interposed cultural;

4. Consolidation, rehabilitation and restoration of rural buildings, farms, trulli, towers, fortifications in order to transform them into hotel structures with accommodation capacity of no less than 7 rooms;

5. Intervening on systems and structures to improve the quality of the property, such that it can favor tourism seasonal adjustment in the local area.

The costs allowed for those who choose the subsidy program:

The materials and expenses for the rehabilitation and construction must be used for the purposes of the program which is the subject of the request for subsidies. The eligible expenses are:

1. Purchase of company land and its accommodation within the limit of 10% of the investment in tangible assets;

2. Masonry and similar works;

3. New factory machinery, plants and equipment;

4. Purchase of patents, licenses, know-how and non-patented technical knowledge, new technologies of products and production processes, for the part in which they are used for the activity carried out in the production unit affected by the program, up to a maximum amount equal to 40% of the total investment.

In addition, expenses are allowed for:

• The acquisition of consulting services for business innovation and to improve the competitive positioning of local production systems concerning the environment, responsibility and ethics, business internationalization and e-business;

• Participation in trade fairs.


Bail-out vs bail-in

Why should you choose the investment of the brick?

A rule that entered into force on 1 January 2016 also in Italy, after the Chamber approved the "European delegation law" with (270 votes in favor, 113 against and 22 abstentions), provides that banks in default can draw from the accounts currents exceeding € 100,000.00 of account holders, including shares and bonds from customers - savers. This means that the bail-out, that is, the external bailout through the public coffers, is replaced by the bail-in, that is, the bailout of banks by drawing on internal resources. It is unacceptable to think that investors and shareholders can no longer rely on the concreteness of banks. From this it follows that investing in brick is the safest way to make a long-term investment.

IS BUYING A HOUSE A BARGAIN?

The answer is yes.
The markets today are not in good condition, also given last year's statistics which see the decline of 2.5% (according to the brokerage firm Tecnocasa), but thanks to the depreciated properties, investors can now deposit their savings in this type of market which is constantly evolving. In central and southern Italy at the moment, brick is considered a safer investment. The ascent towards an interest-bearing real estate market will be slow and not without its pitfalls, but it is expected that this year and the next year the sale will increase.


The Lecce stone

“In Lecce even the poorest houses are tasteful. In no other city have I seen so many doors, windows, loggias, pillars, balustrades all made of stone. Stone is easy to work here. "
(George Berkeley)

George Berkeley, famous theologian and philosopher considered, together with John Locke and David Hume, the father of empiricism, wrote some splendid words about Puglia and in particular about Lecce which he, in his "Travel diary in Italy" (1717), he defined in no uncertain terms "the most beautiful city in Italy". The philosopher appreciated the architecture of churches, convents and noble palaces, as well as the surrounding landscape and also expressed convinced praises on the people who lived in the city, of which he wrote "civilized and educated people, it seems that they have inherited the amiability of the ancient Greeks who in the past inhabited these parts of Italy ", but as the quote at the opening of this article shows, only part of the beauty of local architecture escaped his gaze as a sensitive empiricist, beyond the mastery of the craftsmen who built them, it was also due to the quality of the stone used in the construction, the famous “Lecce stone”.

The Lecce stone, called in dialect "leccisu", is of calcareous origin, is part of the group of marly calcarenites and its formation was identified by technicians in the Miocene period, or about 20 million years ago. Among its properties is the presence, in the formation itself, of shell fragments, small fossils that geologically enrich the structure, but also of clays, quartz and minerals that fortify it and make it even more unique. It is straw yellow in color, but the particularities of its composition enrich it with infinite shades that make it even more intriguing and spectacular.

In addition to characterizing it on a visual level, the very nature of the stone makes it very sensitive to the action of natural atmospheric agents, such as humidity or water stagnation, and also to agents of human origin such as smog. To make it more resistant, the master sculptors of the Baroque era used to treat the rock with milk, in fact lactose, penetrating inside the stone thanks to its porosity, endowed it with a waterproof protective layer, without altering its aesthetic qualities. This treatment also made it easier to process. Today the lactose-based treatment has not completely disappeared, but is joined by other more technological and modern treatments. It must be said that the wear of time sometimes enriches the Lecce stone, adding to its natural beauty a further very fascinating and warm chromatic range, with colors ranging from beige to amber and even, in some cases, to deep pink shades. The ease of processing Lecce stone, known for some time as the quote with which this article opens, is a feature that has certainly contributed to the local and later worldwide success of this precious material.

Lecce stone is mostly extracted in open-air quarries found above all in the municipalities of Lecce, Corigliano, Melpignano, Cursi and Maglie, at a depth of up to 50 meters; the hardness of the stone varies according to the depth of the extraction point and while the one extracted at more superficial levels is used above all to create sculptures and decorations, from the deep, harder benches, the material to be used in construction is extracted, to make plans and is also used as a refractory stone for fireplaces.

Lecce stone is part of the soul of Lecce Baroque, the architectural style born in the Salento capital between the end of the sixteenth century and the first half of the eighteenth century, recognizable for its splendid decorations that characterize the coatings of the buildings. The style, influenced by the Spanish Plateresque, owes its birth to the work of local architects such as Giuseppe Zimbalo (1617-1710) and Giuseppe Cino (1644-1722). The fruits of this peculiar style to be absolutely known are the Palazzo dei Celestini, the church of Santa Croce, the Church of Santa Chiara, the Church of Santa Irene and the Duomo, we will talk more about it on this blog. The Lecce stone enjoyed great success during the Baroque era, but it was already appreciated in the classical and pre-classical era.

Among the sculptors who have used and still use the Lecce stone today, we point out the work of Stefano Garrisi, Renzo Buttazzo, Antonio Margarito and Andrea Serra.