While taking a walk in the streets of an old town centre of any little town or city in the Salento region, you will definitely come across some small workshop where authentic "masters of the trade" work with innumerable materials with incredible passion and skill – from papier-mâché to ceramic and stone from the province of Lecce. In Salento, however, craftsmanship takes on many forms in which crude material such as iron or simple material such as woven reeds find their highest form of artistic expression.
The southern part of Salento is teeming with a variety of artisanal activities. Fabric and embroidery production is widespread, not to mention crochet and lace of the finest quality. Ceramic art is popular throughout Salento: dishes, bowls, casseroles and vases are made from Nardò and Gallipoli to Cutrofiano and Ruffano. Ceramic production is not limited to household items, though. You can also find whistles, bells and "puppets" that decorate nativity scenes.
Papier-mâché production in the Lecce tradition is renowned. This art can be traced back to ancient civilization and was brought to the West from the Arabs. A unique technique was perfected here that consisted of grinding the paper, soaking the pulp and then using fire. Lecce has been manufacturing papier-mâché constantly since the 17th century and these works have won gold medals and acknowledgement from the crowned heads of Europe at international sacred art exhibitions. Ceramic works are still created in both ancient and modern workshops and is exported throughout the world.