Forming part of the “heel” of Italy’s “boot”, Ugento is a historic town in the Puglian province of Lecce. It was once inhabited by Massapic tribes and was later settled by the Romans, who gave it the name “Uxentum”. Today, it is considered a “City of Art” and home to museums where ancient religious treasures and contemporary works are exhibited.
Things to do in Ugento
In the heart of Ugento is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, which was constructed in the 18th century on the site of an ancient Gothic church. It is fronted by a Neoclassical façade dominated by four Ionic columns and houses a presbytery adorned with Rococo-style decorations. Highlights of the interior include the “Assumption of Mary with Saints” by Corrado Mezzana and a marble baptismal font dating back to 1740.
Adjacent to the cathedral is the Museo Diocesano di Ugento, which houses some of the most treasured religious artefacts in the Lower Salento region. Many of its exhibits were once housed in churches throughout the Dicoesi di Ugento - Santa Maria di Leuca and include sacred vestments, liturgical items and devotional objects.
A short stroll away is the Castello di Ugento, a 17th-century castle that houses a hotel, a gourmet restaurant and a culinary school. Its Baroque-style apartments are also open to the public as a museum, with their Salentine star-shaped vaults providing a spectacular setting for contemporary art exhibitions. Works by both Italian and international artists are presented alongside frescoes dating back to 1694.
Getting around Ugento
Ugento is around 45 minutes’ drive from Lecce and an hour from Brindisi. Salento Airport is just over an hour away and has seasonal flights to destinations across Europe. Regular buses connect to Ugento and the town is compact enough to explore on foot.