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Specchia (Italy)

Underground mill © Specchia

Specchia is located in Southern Italy (Province of Lecce, Puglia Region), in the heart of the Cape of Santa Maria di Leuca, which is the border point separating the Ionian Sea from the Adriatic Sea. It is a site of great natural and cultural value and an important centre for the rural economy in the region.

Specchia is a shining example of a place where tradition meets innovation. For example, there is the Protonobilissimo castle, which dates back to the XV century, as well as a public access Centre for advanced digital services.

On the traditional side, all over the historical centre of the city the telephone and electric cables have been removed from the fronts of the houses and the old basolis paving has been restored to its XIX century appearance. During the restoration of the old houses in the medieval centre, Albergo Diffuso (Spread Hotel) was created. It operates throughout the whole year and offers hospitality to many tourists from all over the world.

The local administration has also restored and recovered some other historical and architectural heritage of great value, such as various underground oil mills (caves were once used to produce olive oil) and an old tobacco store in the village of Cardigliano (as Specchia was once a centre for the working of tobacco).

Within Protonobilissimo castle old merges with new, as it now houses a new local multimedia library and a Multifunctional film archive for the European Mediterranean. These projects were realised with the aid of the International Council of Cinema, television and audiovisual Communication of UNESCO (CICT-UNESCO).

Traditional farm activities have been converted into the new officinal herbs sector, maintaining an important historical part of Specchia’s economy. This industry has flourished in Specchia, where it produces and processes the officinal herbs then distributes them into specialized shops.

The quality of life in Specchia is a high level one, thanks to both the interest and activity aimed at preserving the historical, architectural and natural heritage (such as woods and important plants), and the interest and activity of improving its standards in terms of sustainability:

An example of the sustainability effort is the new tourist centre that functions as an ecovillage, as it uses green sources of energy such as an Aeolian set and a photovoltaic field.

Biblioteca comunale © Specchia

Gastronomy is also very important here. Specchia has recovered many of the old recipes and typical products belonging to the rural gastronomic inheritance of the territory, which are highly appreciated by the visitors. At the table, the area of Leuca, including Specchia, is synonymous with Mediterranean diet. The base products of the gastronomy of this area are similar to the ones of the other Mediterranean basin countries: olive oil, tomatoes, pasta, herbs and vegetables. The differences amongst the cuisines are the way these products are used, the supplementary value that each population attributes to the food and the dishes that are cooked and prepared every day for the joy and delight of the inhabitants and tourists.

In the field of the Culture, the administration has realised the restoration of a former Black Franciscan friar’s convent, dating back to the XV century. A University Foundation has opened an excellent educational Centre here, offering several degree courses: Tourism Sciences, a Master of 1st level on ethic–social responsibility, a Master in Energy Management and a Specialization Master in officinal herbs.

Lastly, an important International twinning project for young people has, since 2003, attracted participants from Specchia and other villages in Finland, Germany, Hungary and Poland. This project has been a wonderful and much desired cultural exchange between European societies. The group that has formed out of this project has the ambition of creating a village for Europe where young people working on joint projects, such as the Comenius one, can meet.

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Last update: 07/11/2014 | Top