Castrignano de' Greci
The municipality of Castrignano dei Greci, in the province of Lecce, is one of the nine municipalities of the so-called Grecia Salentana, the Greek speaking area of Salento. Its origins go far back in time, taking on a somewhat legendary atmosphere. The name of the town seems to come from the Latin "castrum" (camp) or from the Greek "kastron" (castle). The Greek Catholic rite was practiced here until 1614; then, with the death of Don Menelao Pensa, the village passed to the Latin rite. However, the parish church of Castrignano was controlled by Greek priests much after that date. There are many Byzantine churches scattered throughout the territory of the municipality, which were destroyed: Santa Maria dei Martiri, S. Stefano, S. Maria delle Puzzelle and S. Anastasia. In the Middle Ages, Castrignano was donated to Peter Indrimi and later passed into the hands of the Prato, Maresgallo and Gualtieri families. The present history of the municipality tells of a Hellenic language and culture protection and improvement project in southern Italy: the Grika language, once particularly used in these areas, was gradually lost, particularly due to the massive migrations that took place after World War II. The lack of a serious written archive and the impoverishment of the popular tradition have led to the birth of movements for the defence Greek culture and traditions that are involving an increasing number of municipalities of this area of Apulia.
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