Oral tradition has handed down to us the existence in the territory of Salve, a short distance from Canalone del Fano and the Grotta delle Fate, of a citadel named Cassandra, where its industrious inhabitants – dedicated to the production of olive oil and wine – could use a mill that milled gold nuggets.
The historian Aldo Simone, in his monograph ? Salve. Storie e Leggende ?wrote that Cassandra actually existed and was located about halfway between the major Messapian towns of Ugento and Vereto, a short distance from Canale del Fano and the Grotta delle Fate on a hill called Profichi. This is the so-called Serra di Spigolizzi, from whose crest one can visually dominate wide expanses of territory both inland and towards the sea.
Simone wrote about the find of a necropolis relevant to Cassandra, of which incontrovertible evidence was found in a plot of land called St. Torneo – sited on the edge of the land belonging to Masseria Fano – during land reclamation works of the Mediterranean woodland, dating back to the end of the 800?s. They were graves dug in the bedrock and in one of which he found a copper lamp, whose poor conditions did not allow recovery.
Monsignor De Rossi, Canon of the Diocese of Ugento, during his pastoral visit of 1711 to the locality in question, wrote of the existence of a pagan temple (fanum) where Masseria Serrazza now stands. With regard to vestiges of the temple cited by De Rossi – the tombstone and a part of the ancient walls – Simone stated that today (i.e. in the second half of the last century, n.d.r.) there is no longer anything, neither the one nor the other.
The scholar of Salve with regard to the citadel of Cassandra reached these conclusions: the Messapi, and therefore also our Cassandra, had sustained, before the Roman occupation a war against the Tarantines from which, in the end, they were victorious. [?] Certainly our citadel was subjected, like other countries of Messapia, during the Roman domination to the tribulations of the war against Hannibal, to those of the Social war, and later to the already mentioned devastation of the Goths after which, I repeat, it never rose again .
Starting from the historical sources available, integrating them with the archaeological data that emerged as a result of recent excavations and surface reconnaissance, it has been tried to come up with some assumptions regarding the actual existence of Cassandra, taking care to distinguish the historical reality from that transmitted by oral tradition, imbued with embellishments, exaggerations and fantasies, often the result of oral tales .
1.2 archaeological data
The strip of territory of Salve interested by the presence of the valleys of the Canale Fano and the further slopes of Serra di Spigolizzi is what returned substantial traces of human presence.
Serra di Spigolizzi seen from La Chiusa ai Fani (photo by n. Febbraro)
The picture that Salentine historians handed down to us from the 16th century onwards suggests the existence of a small town – named Cassandra – founded in Messapian Age on the hill of Spigolizzi near the Masseria Brufichi, destroyed by the Goths in 548 A.D. of which are reported:
a temple dedicated to the God Faunus  for which, subsequently, a cult to the God Bacchus is attested  that, in the course of our era, was Christianized and consecrated to St. Torneo martyr; a pagan temple, located where today stands the Masseria Serrazza (approximately 2 Km east of Spigolizzi hill) and, more precisely, at the adjoining chapel of the Holy Cross, to which the canon don Tommaso De Rossi ascribes a tombstone and the ancient walls since vanished.
The Serra di Spigolizzi has been the subject of an accurate surface research which has made it possible to reconstruct a human presence between the Middle Paleolithic and the Age of Metals. On the plateau of Spigolizzi there is no trace of a Messapian and Roman city. The first intensive residential presence prior to the installation of the Masserie Brufichi and Spigolizzi goes back to about 3,500 years ago.
At a very short distance from Serra di Spigolizzi (about 800 meters to the east) there is a small plateau called La Chiusa overlooking the Canale Fano, which has preserved the ruins of an ancient city wall and kept an archaeological stratigraphy of three distinct human settlements. The most recent being a small fortified hamlet of Archaic Age (VI-V century BC).
The only existing Messapian hamlet in the area is the one known as La Chiusa, of which there is no testimony regarding the original name.
The Messapian town was abandoned definitively during the first decades of the fifth century. BC (480/70), with a chronological difference of almost a millennium from the evocative legend which has been handed down on the destruction of the mythical Cassandra at the hands of the Goths.
The presence of ruins in the village of La Chiusa and the discovery of archaeological finds on the hill of Spigolizzi gave life to the imagination of farmers and, above all, from the 16th century onwards to the local historians who have reinforced the thesis of the existence of a citadel that has had a long continuity of life from the Messapian Age to the late ancient.
The archaeological record, however, have given a different version to this thesis, leading to backdating of almost a millennium the abandonment of the hamlet of La Chiusa and around two millennia the Serra di Spigolizzi.
P. Arthur, Between Justinian and Robert Guiscard. Approaches to the archaeology of Salento in the Byzantine Age in Gelichi (ed.), the National Congress of medieval Archaeology (Pisa, 29-31 May 1997), Florence, 1997.
A. Simone, Hi. Stories and legends, Milano, 1981.
 Simone 1981.
 Arthur 1997.
 In Italian mythology God of human and animal fecundity, protector of flocks and fields.
 the deity of wine traditionally depicted with a crown of ivy, cob and the cup: called Dionysus by the Greeks and that later became part of the Roman pantheon, maintaining the same attributes, under the name of Bacchus.