Ugento, History, Art, Culture
Ugento is a city of art whose origins are lost in the mists of time. Around 1500-1000 B.C. the Messapi settled in the area; an indelible sign of this settlement are the important walls whose perimeter measured about five km, some parts of which are still visible today. During this period, when it was large, prosperous and powerful, the town had its own mint. During the Roman Empire, Ugento became part of Rome's great expansionist plan, not only as a municipality but also as an ally. The outbreak of hostilities between Rome and Carthage led the Messapian cities to ally with Hannibal in the vain hope of regaining their independence and thus their former autonomy. Thus the port of Ugento, like the other ports of Messapia, was used to land and supply Hannibal's army. This alliance was paid for dearly, as the war ended in favour of Rome. In 82 BC, Ugento became a Roman municipality. So Ugento, now part of the Roman empire, suffered the glories and defeats that characterised the mark of this power over the centuries. Under the Norman period (around 1020) better times began for the Ugentines: the centre obtained the re-election of the Latin Bishopric in place of the Greek one, the erection of the castle and an increase in its population. In 1195 the Barony of Ugento was incorporated into the Principality of Taranto, which Frederick Barbarossa granted to his son Henry IV. In 1537 Frederick Barbarossa's troops took the population by surprise and the town was again destroyed. It is worth noting that around 1880, as in most Italian towns, Ugento underwent a major redevelopment in the heart of its small urban centre, numerous hovels were demolished to make way for the current Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II and the opening of several streets that now make up the fabric of our historic centre. All this confirms that the small centre was once prosperous and powerful.