Village of Palagianello

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Palagianello Village

Historical Info

Palagianello’s historical info
<<Inhabited hamlet called Palasano positioned in Otranto land nearby Castellaneta, Motula and Palasanello lands... >>.
This news from Palagiano hamlet compendium ordinance to Giacomo Protonobilissimo also known as Facciapecora, donated from King Ferrante in December 1463, is the first testimony where the toponym  of Palagianello appears.
Another indirect remote news, is presented in the documents given to the Supreme Feudal Court in 1810 to prove the existence of Palagianello, where in one of these documents there was one, dated 1421, which testifies that at that time it was “an ancient and inhabited feud”.
Recently, according to a note of the counsellor of “Badia di Cava dei Tirreni”, Prospero Gambardella (1548) regarding the disagreements among Cava’s monastery and Baron Tiberio Domini Roberti , Lord of Palagianello on the ownership of the church of Saint Maria di Lenne, actually positioned on Palagiano territory, in which there is the following expression: <<IT:Se pone como li casali al presente si Chiama Palascianello, antique si domandava Palisciano vecchio, come consta a quilli ne hanno notizia=EN: the present hamlet is called Palagianello but in the past it was called Old Palagiano as is observed by older people>>, and Roberto Palmisano has indicated as the first inhabited centre of Palagianello with the byzantine Palaianum and the Norman-Svevo.
According to Cosimo Damiano Fonseca, Palagianello is “an emblematic example of rupestrian style characterizing the whole Ionian area : the continuity of living in caves from the Prehistoric period to the early Medieval one, the prolific meeting between the artistic and historic styles of Bisanzio and the ones that developed on a local humus made of ancient traditions, the continuity among the rupestrian habitat and subdialis structures found in the austere Castle a new point for inhabited aggregation  and urban convergence”.
The rupestrian hamlet with its excavated calcareous churches mostly positioned on the eastern sloping side of the gravine is the historical,archaeological and artistic witness of an inhabited centre with an economy prevalently pastoral and agricultural, well organized since the high Medieval period.
The ideation and realization of the rupestrian village of Palagianello, with its house-caves, placed on five or six floors with different levels, due to the presence of stairs, streets, animal folds, terraced vegetable gardens, drains, water cisterns, characterizing a precise and conscious urban structure similar to a medieval village positioned on a sloping  crest of a little hill.
Palagianello’s inhabited caves were not spoilt and abandoned during the rural rupestrian settlements in the XIV century, but it is among those rupestrian villages where spontaneous architectural structures took place, as in Matera, Ginosa, Laterza, Castellaneta, Massafra, Crispiano and Grottaglie.
Living in domus-grupta  is a life style that will continue till the post Medieval period, as is argued in the archive sources of the XV and XVI centuries, especially in notary protocols or from several detailed information in the archive sources of the XVII and XVIII centuries as ancient land registers and “ounce registers”, the foundations of destroyed convents and monasteries, the agreements of universities and feuds of Otranto’s land, as well as notary protocols and the pastoral visits of bishops.
In particular regarding Palagianello hamlet from the evaluation of the 1st September 1676 written by Regio engineer Luise Nauclerio that the inhabitants lived in houses covered by reeds or in caves excavated in the tuff, the latter with function of folds or wine and oil storage for the economic need prevalently agricultural and pastoral of a hamlet.  
With reference to places of cult there are not any traces of Medieval open-pit sepulchral churches on the contrary there are nine rupestrian churches whose iconographical testimony are about a high Medieval phase of excavation.
The 15th of September 1464, Giacomo Facciapecora, feudatory of Palagiano, and Stefano Domini Roberti, feudatory of Palagianello, signed an agreement on the animals’ jus affidaturae on both territories of the two villages.
Palagianello, feud of Domini Roberti before 1464, then passed to De Ribera’s feud in 1633 till 1669, when Maria De Ribera died without any heir. After a period of Regio revenue the feud passed to Marquises Caracciolo of Santeramo and Cervinara who from 1671 first as tenants and from 1678 as landowners, remained the owners of Palagianello till the law of 2 August 1806 abolished feudalism.
In 1807 with the reorganization of the districts following the law 19 January 1807, Palagianello became adjunct village and then suburb of Palagiano for demographic reasons.
After a long separatist battle in 1907, Palagianello became an independent village once again.
There are some disagreements in the explanation of Palagianello’s name. Some people remember an aristocratic called Palavius, derived from Palavum which are very known names in Roman toponymy. In the high Medieval age these places were already remembered. The interpretations of Coco, Coltella (Palavianus), Putignani (Rus – Palagi – Palagi – Anus)  are relevant on the rural origins of the hamlets and Salento’s villages established after the spread of the latifundium during the Roman period whose names have aristocratic, patrician or legionary roots with -anus suffix. Finally, a rural connotation is given to the name of Palagianello but it should not be forgotten that Palagianello was near Taranto and besides dominated by Byzantines till the Norman period, so that a Greek descendancy is not to be excluded which could be found in the union of the two words Palaios (old) and Nomos (grazing land).

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