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Home - Bio Itinerario "La Via Traiana"
The Trajan Way

The last stretch of the ancient roman road, one of the oldest agrarian landscapes in the Mediterranean, which today corresponds to the local councils of Fasano, Ostuni, Carovigno, San Vito dei Normanni and Brindisi; it speaks of the millennial relationship between man and these places; the monumental olive groves, the unchallenged symbol of Apulia, which extend to the coastline of the Adriatic, and the archaeological and architectonic remains testify to this relationship. Historical research shows that this area was consistently settled in messapian and roman times.

The Trajan Way was constructed between 109 and 114 AD at the behest of the Emperor Trajan on the pre-existing plan of the republican age. A secondary route of the Appian way connected Beneventum (Benevento) to Brundisium (Brindisi); it passed through Rubi (Ruvo di Puglia) and reached the coast and touched Barium (Bari) and Butuntum (Bitonto) entering Egnathia (Egnazia) through a triumphal arch. There are significant visible remains of the uncovered ancient paving stones, unlike in many other areas which have been covered by modern roads, in the archaeological area of Egnazia.

Along this important arterial road – the most important route in Southern Italy in ancient times, there are many underground olive presses to be found along it, carved out of the naturally occurring (and remodelled) cavities found in the rock. In the area of Ostuni and Fasano alone there are over 140 underground olive presses and having this ancient military and then commercial road in the vicinity, allowed for the transport of the ‘liquid gold’ to the commercial ports.

These olive presses, many of which began life in roman times, were modernised in the middle ages and continued to work up until the mid 1800’s, when more functional and productive olive presses were begun to be built above ground. Many manor farmhouses were built in the 16th century, with the aim of, precisely, looking after the old underground olive presses.
In this area the numerous tower farmhouses, the fortified farmhouses, and farmhouses build on a court pattern, characterised the defensive architectural elements, which sit side by side with the more reassuring elegant farmhouses, which echo the noble city dwellings of the 1800’s.

Many of these farmhouses are now rebuilt or renovated to give farmhouse holidays and accomodation. This has allowed for the maintenance of the historical and architectural character of these building and the revival of the surrounding areas; it has also given the area an important vehicle for promoting and commercialising the agricultural products of the region, including the principal element: olive oil.

The immense sweep of centuries old olive groves, punctuated by the presence of historical farmhouses and underground olive presses, are the custodians over the jewels of biodiversity which lie within the ‘lame’, the relics of riverbeds where rich and diverse forms of wild plants grow and where numerous species of wild animals find refuge.

The natural cavities which characterise the shape of the ‘lame’ were ancient human dwelling places. Even in the high medieval period, these caves afforded accommodation to religious communities, as can be seen in those places of cult worship which are full of frescoes and rooms, places where olive oil was pressed and animals were kept. Altogether these elements often gave life to these ancient rock communities. Among those which should be noted are: Lama D’Antico, Lamacornola, Lama Rosamarina, Lama Montanaro, Lamaforca and Lama San Biagio, with rock settlements where interesting frescoes have been preserved.

The coast of this area is characterised by a series of aragonese towers which seem today to overlook the natural Parks, Reserves and sites of interest which are recognised by the european community (as sites of community interest and specially protected areas).
The Trajan Way becomes in this Biotrail, a guiding thread: following the ancient roadway, which is still used as a vital means of communication for the area, we can discover the history of this landscape: full of ancient remains, natural habitats and sustainable agriculture.

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