Salento handcrafts is an explosion of creativity that has a thousand forms and as many stories to tell. Here are the four most beloved productions.

tickets banner

Puglia is a region that embodies all the beauties of Italy: a sea of tropical colours, enchanting villages frozen in time, the most genuine flavors of Mediterranean cuisine and of course Salento handcrafts, which finds expression in many different ways.

Salento, in the extreme South of Italy, has always been a crossroads of cultures, and is still today a treasure chest of art and traditions where patient and skilled hands have learned to shape stone as much as terracotta, fabric as much as paper, and also much more. A trip to this wonderful land will allow you to get to know monuments and nature of rare beauty and also to discover which are the most typical and appreciated products of Salento handcrafts.

Join the Bari food tour

Paper mache, an example of the true beauty of Salento handcrafts

salento handcrafts - papier mache figurines

Among the most fascinating and characteristic Salento handcrafts productions is papier-mâché

It is a true art, in fact the master papier-mâché artists pass on their craft from generation to generation. Most of the production is of statues depicting saints, nativity characters, peasants and fishermen. But the imposing floats featured in Carnival parades are also made of papier-mâché, as it happens in Putignano, in the north of Puglia, which has one of the most colorful and famous parades in Italy.

Small or big, these works are not at all easy to make, only expert hands can take care of every detail.

The materials used are very poor: waste paper, starch glue, straw and iron wire for the structure of the object, hands, feet and head in terracotta. It doesn't seem true that from these poor materials come some of the best of Italian craftsmanship.

 It is truly fascinating to walk through the narrow streets of Lecce and come across a small papier-mâché shop: it is like being completely immersed in another universe. If you are looking for an original souvenir this is the place you want to be.

Leccese stone, the typical stone of the Salento handcrafts

Salento handcrafts - stone

Leccese stone is a calcareous stone typical of Lecce, but common throughout all Puglia for its ease of processing. For this reason, it is often used in architecture and in the production of any object. 

Walking around any town in the Salento you will learn soon enough to recognise it. From the imposing Lecce's Cathedral, to the quiet Abbey of Santa Maria di Cerrate, this white stone can be found in churches, palaces and shop windows. This versatile material is used in a wide range of products, from household objects to furniture.

If you want to buy something made of Lecce stone, just stroll around the  markets and you are sure to find something beautiful and characteristic. Although monochrome, it brings colour, light and a touch of summer into your house. That's a good reason already to choose this jewel of Salento handcrafts as a souvenir. 

More info about Santa Maria di Cerrate

Terracotta whistles, the salento handcrafts that even children enjoy

Salento handcrafts - terracotta

Terracotta whistles are one of the most unusual Salento handcrafts products. Made of clay, they come in different shapes and colours: simple, but full of immagination and born from careful manual work.

They are skillfully made all over Puglia, but in Salento they are especially popular in the area around the towns of Grottaglie and Rutigliano, where a particular type of clay called terra rossa is common.

The first whistle ever made is really old. Initially it was just a tool used as a cattle call, then it became a toy for children. Now whistles are the symbol of an ancient culture and at the same time bring good luck to their owners.

Salento embroidery: a very ancient tradition

Salento handcrafts - loom

Embroidery is an art common all over Italy. with many excellences, such as in Sardinia, and it's also a very heartfel tradition in the south. Salento embroidery, specificallyis unique in the world and is made with the classic pedal loom, made of olive wood.

It is literally magic to watch the women embroidering on the loom, or creating the laces that are a great pride of Salento's culture. Among the laces there is the one called "chiacchierino", made with a spool on the fingers and based on a quick but precise work which allows to make doilies, finishing lace, trimmings for clothes and much more.

Strolling through the streets of the small towns of Salento, you will often come across old ladies embroidering outside their homes.

Embroidery is so important to Salento culture that in Castrignano dei Greci a Museum of Hand Embroidery and Lace was created

We recommend

We recommend