Abbey of Santa Maria di Cerrate

Abbey of Santa Maria di Cerrate

The Salento area has an ancient heart

Abbazia di Santa Maria di Cerrate eng

Once a Greek orthodox monastery, then the centre of a farm, this notable example of Puglian Romanesque architecture now tells the tale of its two previous lives – one religious, the other agricultural.

Entrusted to FAI on a loan-for-use basis by the Province of Lecce in 2012


Shrouded in mystery and immersed in the olive groves that cover the area outside the city of Lecce, the origins of the abbey complex can be traced back to Tancred, King of Sicily who, legend has it, was visited here by an apparition of the Virgin Mary. In more concrete terms, the story of Cerrate began under the Norman prince Bohemond I of Antioch who, some time between the 11th and 12th centuries, founded a monastery there of Basilian monks of the Greek Orthodox rite, who turned it into one of the most important hubs for the propagation of culture in southern Italy, thanks to its library and flourishing scriptorium, where the monks would transcribe ancient texts.Over subsequent centuries, the abbey grew in size and prestige, complementing its religious role with farming, but in 1711 an attack by Turkish pirates resulted in it falling into a state of complete abandonment, interrupted only in 1965 by an initial restoration commissioned by the Province of Lecce, which in 2012 entrusted to FAI a new salvage operation geared towards opening the property to the public.

Today, the restoration is ongoing, but this situation does not prevent visits to what is a wonderful example of Puglian Romanesque, embellished with Byzantine 13th-century frescoes and flanked by an elegant 16th-century well and a 13th-century loggia with beautiful capitals sculpted from white Leccese stone – a true masterpiece of Romanesque sculpture. The agricultural vocation of the site, given over to the processing of olives, wheat and tobacco, emerges from the workplaces and from the farmhouse, the stables and the underground mills with their grindstones, presses and tanks. These are all pieces of a complex mosaic to be restored and reconstructed, but already capable of recounting a chapter of the history of the Salento area.

Visitor information
Opening hours

The Abbey of Santa Maria di Cerrate is open (last entrance 30 min before closure times):

- in March, April, May, September, October from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00am to 06:00pm
- in June, July, August everyday from 09:30am to 01:00pm and from 03:30pm to 07:30pm
- in November till the 8th January 2023 from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00am to 04:00pm.

The Abbey will be open also on 26th December and 2nd January 2023, it will be closed on 24th, 25th December and 1st January 2023

How to get here

By car: Please take road SS613 (Lecce – Brindisi) and exit Squinzano towards Casalabate on SP100.
Transfer service: From Lecce you can book the private transfer service for € 30 round trip (1-4 people); € 5 for each person more (till 9 people).
This service requires prior booking and it is run by Società Cooperativa Solidarietà & Lavoro - Tel. 339 6402204 E-mail:
By train:
The nearest train station is Squinzano, about 7 km from the Abbey; from Squinzano station you can book a transfer to the Abbey.


Parking is available near the abbey.

  • FAI members: free entry*
  • Adults: € 8
  • Reduced (aged 6-18): € 4
  • Children aged 0-5: free entry
  • Students aged 25 or under: € 4
  • Family: €20, for family groups composed of 2 adults and 2 children (4-18 years of age). Free entry for any additional children in the family group.
  • National Trust members*, journalists with press card , those with disabilities + 1 companion: free entry

*with the exception of specific events, when only the additional event charge will apply.
During events the price may be subject to change.

Entrance+guided tour

Adults: € 13
Children (6-18 years) and students under 25: € 9
Family (2 adults+ children): € 35

Guided Tours

in ENGLISH please call us +39 0832361176;


- in March, April, May, September, October from Tuesday to Sunday at 10:00am, 11:30am and 04:00pm;
- in June, July, August everyday at 10:00am, 11:30am, 04:00pm and 05:30pm;
- in November and December from Tuesday to Sunday from Tuesday to Sunday at 10:00am, 11:30am and 03:00pm.

For groups of more than 10 people: please book your visit writing to


All the purchases made in our bookshops help to support FAI’s mission.
You can find a wide choice of original gift ideas like our food production specialities (FAI marmalade, olive oil, honey, salts, etc...), books about Apulian history and customs, exclusive handmade accessories andscarfs, handcrafted bags, artisanal handmade products, traditional Salento baskets to protect this ancient craft and much more.


Disabled visitors can access free-of-charge those FAI properties that are open to the public by showing their ANMIC (Associazione Nazionale Mutilati e Invalidi Civili) card.

Various spaces are accessible: the church, the ground floor of the farmhouse and the loggia on the first floor of the monks’ house.

Useful information

Dogs are allowed on a leash in the garden and in the courtyard. Inside just guide dogs or small dogs in your arms or in a pet carrier.

Venue hire and events

Choose the abbey for your events

Spaces overflowing with history, art and charm, in the heart of the Salento area

The abbey offers an extensive array of spaces for M.I.C.E. and private events.

By selecting a FAI property as a venue for your event, you are contributing to the conservation and protection of Italy’s heritage of art and nature.

What can you do at the Abbey of Santa Maria di Cerrate?

Private events
Wedding receptions, concerts, expos, banquets, exhibitions, conferences

Corporate away days
Meetings and team-building activities.

Photo/video shoots
The abbey is the ideal backdrop for photo and film shoots set in rural or monastic Salento.

For information
Abbazia di Cerrate
Tel. (+39) 0832 361176

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