During the Middle Ages (namely between the 6th and 14th centuries), several farming communities were developed around a crossroads of strategic importance, the road that from Egnatia would lead to Taranto, connecting the Adriatic Coast with the Ionian Coast, as well as the way between Conversano and the Messapian lands of Ceglie and Ostuni.

During those times, the use of caves increased both as a space for living and one for work dedicated to the processing of agricultural products or also as a place of both prayer and burial. Thus, rocky settlements were born, some of which have handed down an important testimony regarding one’s daily life, religious values, social structure, economy, artistic expressions, and construction techniques of the Middle Ages.

The site of Lama d’Antico, located between Fasano and Savelletri, represents one of the most fascinating rock settlements of the region, as it incorporates a complete village developed in the Middle Ages between the 10th and 14th Centuries AD which is still presented in a great state of conservation, such as the cave-dwellings, places of worship, and real laboratories used for the production and preservation of foods and goods.

An architectural masterpiece of indescribable beauty is the Church of lama d’Antico, a Cathedral carved into the rock, located like a fulcrum at the center of the village. It is one of the better preserved rural churches in Puglia

The paintings, which have been frescoed on the limestone rock (dating back to the second half of the 13th Century AD), testify to the coexistence of typical elements found in Eastern/Oriental traditions and those of the Medieval Latin world.

The other two small church caves of San Giovanni and San Lorenzo also have conserved frescoes which depict saints, bishops, prophets, martyrs, and iconic monks, as per Byzantine tradition.

The Lama d’Antico village developed along a narrow canal/channel or ‘lama’, whose rocky flanks were carved out to surround a new natural habitat of rare beauty: lentisk and wild thyme bushes, olive trees, and caper plants that would descend from the waterfall and revive it with color during the summer bloom. A giant centuries-old carob tree appears as a sort of natural sculpture with a ‘rolled’ trunk, testifying to the most recent history in the site immersed in a thick and uncontaminated Mediterranean scrub.

Countless are the signs of human work connected to the village’s productive activities and traces of a water network, worked on arduously to satisfy the essential need to collect and the preserve the precious resource. Extraordinary is the agricultural landscape in which the village is immersed, as well as the garden of ancient olive trees, standing out in the view.

The Lama d’Antico Rock Park is located on the the provincial Fasano-Savelletri road, in Contrade Sarzano di Fasano, Google Coordinates: https://goo.gl/maps/KqBdCiefc2H2 

During the summer, from May 16th to September 30th, one can visit from 9:30 AM to 1:30 PM and from 4 PM to 8 pm every Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday. For more information call +39 328.3597517 / +39 392.4161712   sito web: ​ http://www.lamadantico.it/it/home/   ​info@lamadantico.it

This article has been translated by Louis (Gigi) Alvares , a second-year (sophomore) student Rice University, Houston, Texas studying Sport Management and Psychology with a Certificate in Italian. He one day hopes to work in the world of European football.