A visit to the Church of Santa Maria di Cerrate is something not to be missed. This old church is located in the isolated countryside between Casalabate and Surbo, among vineyards and centuries old twisted olive trees. It’s one of the best examples of Ramanic architecture in Puglia, dating back to the 12th century. The inside is frescoed with beautiful byzantine paintings.
It is believed that it was founded at the beginning of the 12th century by Count Tancredi as a convent. It was an important religious and cultural centre until 16th century, undergoing the usual ups and downs of partial destruction, reconstructions and additions until it was transformed into a farm.
The Romanesque church opens over a central green space with three naves, the central one being a much higher wooden gable roof. The interior is made from warm, light local limestone with mighty columns carrying Caorinthian capitals, and includes an elegant 18th century alter and several fragments of frescoes on the walls.
Outside the triple facade is extended on the left by a wing with three small open articles marking the front of an arcade running along the left side of the church, formerly a shelter for pilgrims. On the other sides the green internal space is bordered by simple buildings that once made up the convent complex and subsequently the farm.
Inside the building to the right of the church you will find a small but interesting country life museum, with machinery and other objects and tools on display.
In the garden there is an elegant 18th century stone sculpted well.