Underground oil mills in Salento: the best ones and where to find them [Guide 2023]

They were also called green gold mines. Underground oil mills in Salento were those places where the oil from freshly harvested olives was extracted. They were dug entirely into the rock, both to hide them from pirates and to keep the product intact.

In Salento dialect we know them as “TRAPPITI” those who worked in them “TRAPPITAR”I. The workers were mostly fishermen, who remained on land during the bad season; they were referred to as “CIURMA”, while the boss was called “NACHIRO” from the Greek “NAUCHLEROS”.

For the entire pressing period, which lasted from November to May, the TRAPPITARI did not move from the oil mill, thus creating a small community with customs and traditions very different from the neighbouring village.

Salento is full of underground oil mills, given the endless plantations of olive trees; here are the most interesting ones you can visit.

frantoi ipogei salento
By Sergio Limongelli – Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36470016

Gallipoli is home to an underground oil mill dating back to 1600, the one excavated under Palazzo Granafei, in the middle of the historic centre of the beautiful town in Salento.

Presicce, a town in lower Salento, was known as a CITTA’ SOTTERRANEA (UNDERGROUND CITY) between the 18th and 19th centuries precisely because of the large number of ancient underground oil mills it housed. Apparently there were more than thirty, all dug under the town’s main square.

Morciano di Leuca, a stone’s throw from Santa Maria di Leuca, has twenty or so underground oil mills but only a couple are open to the public.

Sternatia has nineteen of them, but only one is open to the public.

Vernole is home to an underground oil mill dating back to the 1500s, the CAFFA oil mill restored in the late 1900s and kept active until 1907.

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Team HDSalento

Team HDSalento

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