historical information

Massafra contains a rich treasure of history, art, culture and nature. The civilization of a people that has very deep roots has developed along the steep and steep walls of the ravines. For the richness of the testimonies historical, artistic, naturalistic and landscape we remember the Gravine of the Madonna della Scala and of San Marco. The first takes its name from the homonymous Sanctuary and borders the town to the west. The second, from the church dedicated to the Saint, it divides the old city from the new one, connected by the Garibaldi bridge. Looking out over the Gravina of San Marco and from the terrace of the Madonna della Scala we can admire a suggestive landscape: rock houses and churches full of frescoes, rich vegetation and numerous species of birds and insects. In these ravines man began his existence starting from the Neolithic. The rock settlements became the place of refuge for the Byzantine monks who fled from the East at the time of the iconoclastic struggles. The Norman invasion and the peoples of the North did not determine the decline of rock life and only around the fourteenth century, the village began to be abandoned due to some collapses. Thus new types of underground dwellings were born which had the same organization as the cave dwellings. Famous in the rock village of Madonna della Scala is the Pharmacy of the Magician Greguro, the wise Greek who collected, cataloged and used, with the help of his daughter Margheritella, the medicinal herbs existing in the ravine. And, again, the large natural cave "del Ciclope" used as a place for public assemblies, games and markets. To visit the rock church of Buona Nova, full of frescoes. In the Gravina di San Marco, dominated by the medieval castle, there is the rock church dedicated to the Saint, entirely carved into the rock, considered one of the most beautiful rock churches in Puglia. On the western rampart we admire the rock church of Candelora with frescoes. Linked to this ravine is the underground Church of San Leonardo and Sant'Antonio Abate.

touristic route

The territory of Massafra extends from the Murge plateau, where Mount Sant'Elia stands on which the WWF protected oasis extends, to the Ionian Sea with the characteristic low coast with golden sand, flanked by the pine forest with the typical pines d'Aleppo and a rich undergrowth of typically Mediterranean vegetation. The ancient Massafra preserves interesting architectural and artistic testimonies. From the Medieval Castle to the Mother Church, characterized by an almost military architectural structure, it preserves inside ancient frescoes (16th-17th century) which decorate Baroque altars, while an artistic wooden machine forms the background, together with the choir. Next to the church is the Oratorio del Purgatorio with a Baroque ceiling. From the Convent of San Benedetto in Baroque style with precious internal decorations, to the Convent of Sant'Agostino which offers the visitor a suggestive show of Apulian Baroque, equipped with natural acoustics that make it an ideal place for musical performances. The dome of the Cathedral of San Lorenzo dominates the urban landscape; inside there are numerous valuable altars, among which that of the Sacrament stands out. The Church of the Infant Jesus rises in the district of the same name. Its origins are linked to the prodigies of a wax Child (preserved inside), seen oozing in the house of the noblewoman Isabella Accolti Gil. In the initial stretch of the Gravina Madonna della Scala, in a suggestive natural setting, is the Church of the Madonna delle Grazie. In the middle of an intricate staircase, which connects the historic center to the Via Appia. we can admire the Church of SS. Doctors Cosma and Damiano. In the square in front of the panorama around is nothing short of extraordinary. The Madonna della Scala Sanctuary, dedicated to the patron saint, stands at the bottom of the ravine of the same name, immersed in the evocative naturalistic environment of caves, in an atmosphere full of the aromas and mystery of the "Valle delle Rose". It was built on the remains of an ancient religious site in 1730 together with the spectacular tufaceous staircase.Typical of Massafra are the hypogean dwellings with wells known as "vicinities", of which there are hundreds of specimens.Strictly linked to the city is the phenomenon of "living in caves", with the presence of about 30 frescoed churches, scattered in the inhabited center and in the surrounding countryside, which also make it known as the "Thebaid of Italy".


The year begins with the Carnival with the parade of allegorical floats. The religious feast of Santa Maria della Scala occurs on February 20, but the celebrations in honor of the Patroness of Massafra take place on the first Sunday in May with fireworks and the symbolic delivery of the keys to the city. During the Lent procession of the "Crucifixes" in the Gravina Madonna della Scala. Procession of the "Mysteries" from the ancient Mother Church on Good Friday. Feast and torchlight procession in honor of SS. Medici Cosma and Damiano with the traditional "Scambisciata" on 26 and 27 September. Solemn procession in honor of San Michele Arcangelo on 29 September.


The kitchen includes simple, varied and tasty dishes, able to enhance the products that the countryside knows offer and satisfy the most demanding palates. Typical first courses are: orecchiette and “fricidd”, cavatelli, broad beans and leaves, “spuzzitate” broad beans, beggar's soup and baked cardoncelli. In the local cuisine, important second courses of meat also dominate, cooked above all in the stove: braciole, “gnjumeriedde” (kid or lamb offal reduced to strips, gathered into balls with intestines and cooked on the grill). There are also focaccia and timbales that are carefully prepared at home for the Easter and Christmas holidays. Typical local desserts are the "tornerai" two biscuit wafers that enclose a thick layer of homemade ice cream. During the Christmas holidays, the “carteddate” (shortcrust pastry canestrelli fried with honey), the “pett'l” (leavened fried dough), the “purcidd” (shortcrust pastry dumplings) and the delicious taralli “nglppet” (covered from sugar) of the Easter period.

the carnival

Carnival begins in Massafra on January 17, the feast of Sant'Antonio Abate, from which the popular saying "de Sant'Antuòne, masks and sounds" derives. On this day, farmers would lead their cattle to the annual ceremony of blessing pets. And it was a continuous party, from morning to evening with receptions and dinners that continued throughout the Sundays and Thursdays of the Carnival. It is currently considered one of the most important and festive in Puglia for the involvement of citizens and tourists who participate directly in the entertainment stimulated by the choreographies and sets of the floats and allegorical groups that parade along the main street of the town usually on Sunday and Shrove Tuesday. At the end of the parade, the ancient tradition of the carnival funeral procession takes place.

old town - churches

  • Chiesa Madonna del Carmine       E-6
  • Santuario Gesù Bambino         D-5
  • Antica Chiesa Madre              D-6
  • Chiesa di S. Lorenzo                E-5
  • Chiesa dei S.S. Medici             E-7
  • Chiesa di S. Gaetano             D/E-3
  • Chiesa di S. Antonio             E-4
  • Chiesa di S. Toma                D-6
  • Chiesa e Convento di S. Benedetto         E-5
  • Cappella di S. Lucia                                    D-7
  • Chiesa e Convento di S. Agostino        C/D-6
  • Torre dell’Orologio                                     E-5
  • Castello                                                        E-6
  • Casa Natale di Niccolò Andria                 E-5