Located along the Gulf of Taranto, Ugento is a referred to as a "citta' di arte," -city of art. It's ancient history reaches back to the Massapic tribes but it was the Romans who gave it the name Uxentum. It was sacked by the Turks rebuilt and became an episcopal seat in the 11th century. The angular trapezoidal castle was constructed in the 13th century. It was restyled to become a regal manor house in the Renaissance period.
Ugento is just inland from the Ionian Sea, in the midst of a rich archeological zone. A bronze statue of Zeus from the 5th century BC was found here, testimony of the Greek presence many millennia ago. You can see important artifacts in the Colosso Museum, a private collection housed in the splendid Palazzo Colosso. A municipal museum, the Museo Civico, also holds archeological and paleontology exhibits. The Diocesan Museum, on the other hand, is a collection of religious art and objects with some impressive pieces in its midst.
The Neoclassic cathedral looks like a Greek temple though it was built in 1855 and is dedicated to the Madonna Maria Most Holy Assumption to Heaven, a grand name for the town's patron saint. The Baroque church of San Benedetto and the unassuming Madonna del Casale church with its ancient frescoes are also interesting stops.
The town of 12,000 is large enough to have plenty of services and restaurants, while retaining its small town appeal. There are tight streets decked with balconies and decorated palazzi throughout the historic center. Ugento is just a few miles from the sandy beaches of the Ionian, some of the best in Puglia, such as Torre Mozza and Torre San Giovanni, with clear water and miles of seafront to enjoy. The cape of Santa Maria Leuca is a short drive away, and there are loads of history-packed towns in the Salento to explore. The Salento is also famous for its wines, so a trip to taste the vintages right at the wineries is a good idea, too!
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