Situated in lower Salento,
in the province of Lecce, Melpignano is part of those localities
belonging to Greek Salentina, associated with the Griko dialect
derived from Magno-Greek (10th-4th Centuries BC).
The presence of man on the territory dates back to Neolithic
times and the Bronze Age, brought to light by the Menhir,
The origins of Melpignano, instead, is discussed as dating
back to before the old pre-Roman, referring to the Greek populations
where the local dialect was derived, or to the presence of
the Roman centurion named Malpinio, who was awarded this land
for valour demonstrated during the league of the Greek-Messapian
wars, led by Pirro (280-275 BC).
During the High Medieval period, Melpignano was an important
Byzantine centre, so much so that it maintained the celebration
of the liturgy in Greek, even under the advent of the Normans
King Tancredi of Altavilla gave the feudatory to Giambattista
Lettere in 1190.
After the arrival of the Angioini in the south, the feudatory
passed to the Del Balzo Orsini Family in 1300, the Tarantino
Family, the Musco Family, the Ramirez of Glanos Family, the
Castriota Family, the Acquaviva of Aragona Family and finally
the de Luca Family in 1757, who kept it until the abolition
of feudatory rights in 1806, by the wishes of Giuseppe Bonaparte,
governor of the Republic of Naples.
In 1861, Melpignano entered into the Reign of Italy after
a plebiscitary vote the previous year.
A visit to Melpignano can begin with the ex Augustinian Convent
(1573-1662) and the adjacent Carmine Castle (1656), a superb
example of Baroque from Puglia. One can then enter the habitation
through the beautiful porticos of Piazza S. Giorgio, where
the homonymous church is situated with its beautiful polychromed
Among the civil buildings we would like to mention: Palazzetto
of Notar Zullino and Palazzo Maggio, the Baronial Castle and
finally, to round off the visit, an interesting hypogean oil-mill
from the 17th Century.
Every year in the square where the ex Augustinian Convent
is situated (second half of August), the City holds a conclusive
concert of the manifestation known as the “Night of
the Taranta,” when some Salento cities come to life
with the pinching rhythms. The square is so large, that the
manifestation has grown in the number of participants, having
now reached more than 100,000 public spectators.