For centuries the local economy has been based almost exclusively on agriculture and, in particular on olives and vines. Olive growing - in the Dop Terre Tarantine area – is an ancient tradition dating back to the Messapia civilization of antiquity. The Massafra countryside, is still full of old mills and presses, remnants of the early cave-dwelling civilization.
The Ionian Sea is like a huge underwater museum that preserves the memory of Puglia's oil milling culture. Many of the ships loaded with oil and wine which set sail from the port of Taranto were then swallowed up by the waves. A great quantity of well-preserved wine bowls, hydriai and amphorae decorated with mythological scenes, featuring the olive tree, have been excaveted from the seabed and are now on show in the halls of the National Museum of Taranto.
This Museum's collections are of great historical and artistic value, and it is a very important institution in southern Italy, second only to the Museum of Naples.
Do not miss excursions to Crispiano,"Town of the Hundred Masserie", with its interesting “Museum of Rural Life”, and Grottaglie, famous worldwide for the ancient art of ceramics.
The ceramic shops are called figule and are concentrated in the district around Episcopio Castle. Craftsmen still work according to the traditional skills handed down from generation to generation by master potters. Output is extremely varied and the traditon has consolidated over time to produce rustic ceramics, specific to Grottaglie among th products of the 28 Italian ceramic towns and cities.