Concept

Salento

Summary
Salento (Salentino: Salentu, Salentino Griko: Σαλέντο) is a cultural, historical and geographic region at the southern end of the administrative region of Apulia in Southern Italy. It is a sub-peninsula of the Italian Peninsula, sometimes described as the "heel" of the Italian "boot". It encompasses the entire administrative area of the province of Lecce, a large part of the province of Brindisi and part of that of Taranto. The peninsula is also known as Terra d'Otranto, and in the past Sallentina. In ancient times it was called variously Calabria or Messapia. Messapia (from Greek Μεσσαπία) was the ancient name of a region of Italy largely corresponding to modern Salento. It was inhabited chiefly by the Messapii in classical times. Pokorny derives the toponym from the reconstructed PIE *medhyo-, "middle" and PIE *ap-, "water" (Mess-apia, "amid waters"). Pokorny compares the toponym Messapia to another ancient Italic toponym, Salapia, "salt water", a city in Apulia. Late Bronze Age settlements were complex and comparatively rich, They lost their wealth at the beginning of the Iron Age and degraded into dispersed huts. Farmers cultivated cereals and used meadows for stock grazing. In the subsequent archaic time stone built houses were erected accompanied by funerary plots. Trade with the Greek was established. Surplus production and the intensification of wine and olive oil production enabled the culture of the Hellenistic period. The Romans conquered the Salento in the third century BC leading to a consolidation process of farms. The Salento peninsula is composed of limestone, dividing the Gulf of Taranto to the west from the Strait of Otranto on the east, with the Adriatic Sea to the north and the Ionian Sea to the south. Known also as "peninsula salentina", from a geo-morphologic point of view it encompasses the land borders between Ionian and the Adriatic Seas, to the "Messapic threshold", a depression that runs along the Taranto-Ostuni line and separates it from the Murge.
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