"The Great War in Salento": a journey through cinema and history.
Discovering a different Salento, walking through the locations of a courageous film
Yay for independent and brave cinema! "The Great Salento War" (directed by Marco Pollini, 2022), is a film set in lower Salento after World War II. It tells the story of the first fan in the history of Italian soccer to lose his life over a ball game. It was the tragic epilogue of the rivalry between two small towns, Supersano and Ruffano, which in the film we find in their rough and rugged beauty like the trunks of the olive trees that surround them.
We follow the vicissitudes of the protagonists along the sunny streets of Supersano, among local history, movie magic and ancient landscapes. We are accompanied by the words of Prof. Bruno Contini, a local historian in love with his territory and author of the book from which director Marco Pollini made the film.
The Castle of the Orsini del Balzo
Or rather: the assault on the bus - A massive structure and a mighty keep... This castle, built in the 12th century and which became the heart of Supersano, has seen a lot. Today it also adds to its long list of honors the pride of being in the scene of the bus assault in the film "The Great Salento War."
The shrine of the Blessed Virgin of Coelimanna
That is: where women used to go to pray - A shrine at the top of a high flight of steps and an evocative Byzantine crypt: witnesses to the devotion of the supersanesi to Our Lady of Coelimanna, who here, according to tradition, appeared to a shepherdess. The miracle is recounted inside the shrine in an early 20th-century papier-mâché triptych by an artist from Lecce, Giuseppe Manzo. Lift your eyes to the sky, however, to admire the "double star" roofing, very unique in the south.
The church of St. Michael the Archangel
That is: the heart of the village - The square, the church, the tavern. These are the meeting and clashing places in the film. The mother church dates back to the 1700s and has changed a lot over the centuries. The altar on which the priest celebrated Mass at the time of the film (1948-49) was quite different from the present one, which shines with the wonderful mosaics by Jesuit artist Marko Ivan Rupnik.
The masseria Le Stanzìe
AKA: Agnese's rooms - Since the distant 1500s the masseria has watched over the Supersano countryside, but archaeological excavations reveal much older origins. The interiors preserve the fireplaces, terracotta floors and rustic furnishings of yesteryear. Today it is a cozy agriturismo, but in the film it is Agnese's home.
The Macrì masseria
Aka: Don Alfredo's house - The masseria stood along the Strada dell'Olio, on the edge of the Belvedere Forest, which disappeared in the late 1800s. Now a cozy B&B, in the "Great War of Salento" is Don Alfredo's house: the interiors preserve extraordinary dry-stone decorations on the walls dating back to the 1700s.
AKA: Red Blood, Red Earth - This masseria - now a B&B - also dates back to the 1500s, but there are traces of much older, prehistoric and Byzantine settlements. Over time it has undergone many renovations but inside it still preserves traditional furnishings and fittings and a valuable museum of rural civilization. The video clip for "Rosso Sangue, Rossa Terra," on the film's soundtrack, was shot here.
A community around a film
A film is a collective work, always. It not only tells, teaches, remembers, imagines, but it acts and transforms! Communities come together, the identity of places leaves municipal boundaries and goes out into the world, spotlights are turned on a resilient and authentic Italy. And we hope that following in the footsteps of a film can become an intelligent and creative way of traveling to discover Italy.
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