Village of Palagianello

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Naturalistic Itinerary

Tourist route

Starting from the welcome centre it is possible to pass across a stone bridge (ex railway bridge) which crosses Palagianello’s gravine. From this privileged point it is possible to admire one of the 350 Taranto’s gravines. The gravines are deep rocky canyons of carsic origin, which start from the murgese upland leading to the sea, corroded by old rivers that today form only when there is heavy rain. Looking at the northern side we distinguish the first part of Palagianello’s gravine, which starts from the border of Mottola’s territory to the rupestrian hamlet area. This part of the gravine is still uncontaminated with luxuriant vegetation, the rocky slope are more than 100mt high giving the possibility to different birds of prey to nest as the Barn Owl, the Kestrel and the Lesser Kestrel. The second part of the gravine is near Palagianello’s hamlet. This unique and striking scenario was done by human efficiency and respect for the gravine. It is possible to appreciate this by looking at the natural terraces which were used as vegetable gardens for the cave houses . The third part starts from the stone bridge, were we are, towards the south were the gravine becomes “lama” (=small erosive crack).
All this area is denominated Regional Natural park named “Terra delle Gravine” established on the 20th of December 2005 with R.L. n.18. It has an of extension of over 13 villages of the Taranto province for a total of 28.000 hectars.
We will see along our itinerary didactical panels, lay over areas, a rest stop where we are reminded that we are in a protected area. From a naturalistic point of view it has a special wealth of animal and vegetable species, some endemic. The pine forest, the Mediterranean bush, the sierre’s and upland’s pseudo-steppe give refuge to several species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds.
The naturalistic, historical and artistic trail leads as far as the rupestrian church of Saint Lucia with its arched door with a semicircular lunette where, inside, it is still possible to see traces of an incised cross. On the left of the entry door there is a tomb, a cistern and a small cave house. Saint Lucia was a sanctuary were the devoted followers, since the IX to the XIV century, made several Greek and Latin inscriptions and graffito the peacock who pecks at a snake. The trail’s signs lead us to the gravine’s bottom. Along the two trails there are lay over areas to admire the opposite side of the gravine, characterized by medieval rests of Old Palasciano, as the rupestrian settlement and the rupestrian churches of Saint Gerolamo and Saint Andrea. The trail which goes to the bottom of the gravine, passes through a naturalistic landscape full of Brooms as Calicotome Spinosa, Malosma, and big bush of Phlomis Fruticosa. Rosemary and Cistus characterize the trail which leads to a carsic well of fresh spring water where different species of amphibians live in a scenario of an Aleppo pine forest. Here the microclimate and the underbrush is formed by the Mediterranean bush: Malosma, Rosemary, Myrtle and other species and the presence of  Satureja. The fauna typical of the gravine, in particular, among the reptiles besides the Lizards, the Tarantula (Gekkonidae),  the Hierophis Gyarosensis there is also the rare Kotsky’s Gecko. On the opposite side of the gravine we will climb, discovering dry stone walls, terraced gardens which are still not cultivated but have Olive trees and Prickly Pears on them. We will arrive at the ancient sanctuary of “Madonna delle Grazie”.

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