Mesagne is a city of Higher
Salento, situated along the old Via Appian (Appian Way), a
few kilometres from Brindisi. It was an important Messapian
centre (6th Century BC), known by the name of Messania.
It passed under Roman domination during the III Century BC,
after the league of the Greek-Messapian wars, and changed
name to Mediana and then inserted along the Via Appia (Appian
During the period of the Punic Wars between the Carthaginians
and Rome, the City remained loyal to the Republic and was
destroyed by Hannibal in 211 BC.
During the Roman era, the territory of Mesagne saw the birth
of country villas, of which some remains have been found on
the manor farms of Campofreddo, Moreno and Partenio.
With the end of the Roman Empire (476), Mesagne passed first
under Ostrogoth Reign (476-535), therefore under ownership
of the Western Roman Empire. The Byzantines fortified the
City by erecting defensive walls.
In 1061, the Norman Robert Guiscard had the defensive towers
built, which were destroyed shortly afterwards by the Saracens
(1254), who had been sent by Manfredi of Swabia to punish
the betrayal of Mesagne, who had sided with the Pope during
the clash between the Empire and the Papacy in the 13th Century.
It was later reconstructed under the same Manfredi, and then
amplified by their successors, the Angioini (14th Century).
The fortress saw the addition of two turrets by the Orsini
del Balzo Family during 1430.
They were succeeded by the Beltrano, Albricci and Barretta
families, who transformed the Castle into a Baronial home
(1750). The last feudatory nobles before the abolition of
feudatory rights in 1806, were the Imperiali Family, already
nobles of Manduria.
During the Renaissance period, Mesagne was protagonist in
the Carbonari (An association which promoted independent ideas)
movement and motions of 1820.
In 1861, after being capital of the Land of Otranto, it was
annexed to the Reign of Italy.
One can enter the ancient suburb through the Porta Grande,
situated near to the Castle, which still has a square shaped
17th Century tower.
Among the churches one can visit: the Chiesa Matrice (Matrix
Church – 11th Century, later re-adjusted during the
13th and 17th Centuries), the Carmine Church (14th Century),
the Santa Maria Mater Domini Church (begun in the 17th Century),
the Annunziata Church, and the Baroque Church of Santa Maria
in Bethlehem (1738).
Just outside the habitation one can visit the precious small
Byzantine San Lorenzo Church (6th-7th Century).
Five kilometres from Mesagne, one can visit the interesting
archaeological area of Muro Tenente, probably an old Scamnum,
a station for changing horse along the ancient Via Appia (Appian