Pozzelle di Zollino

Where we are

73010 - Zollino, Largo Pozzelle
Pozzelle di Pirro

Supports for the visit

Soon available:

  • Audioguides
  • Interactive map for Kids


The area is public.
Free access

How to behave

The pozzelle are precious and very fragile rural artifacts

  • Do not alter in any way the external structures of the artifacts.
  • Do not throw objects or waste inside the pozzelle
  • Inside the area, be careful of tall vegetation and holes and rocky bumps in the ground.



The pozzelle are ingenious systems to collect and filter rainwater. Real cultural assets connected to the rural world, they are a proof of the local populations’ adaptability, and show the human-induced transformations of the landscape.

Made with hydraulic engineering techniques, applied in karst contexts with Mediterranean climate, they are located within depressions in the ground called “sinkholes”.


Some pozzelle have a proper noun, in griko or in dialect, linked to particular characteristics or stories: Ascilò (“Tall”), Lipuneddhra (“Little fox”), Rizzu, Marmaregnu, Scòrdari (“Garlic”). Different uses have been mapped: source of drinking water, water for irrigation and for watering grazing animals.

The transformations

46 pozzelle are visible in the area nowadays, but the study of cartographic sources reveals that at least 20 more have been lost or have been buried.

The main transformations occurred mostly in the second half of the Twentieth Century when the area was also used as a football field.

Some pozzelle not displayed on the maps may have been built in more recent times.


Widespread in Puglia, they were present in almost all the municipalities of Grecìa Salentina. In some cases they are still well preserved and concentrated in significant numbers in public spaces on the edge of the residential area (Castrignano de’ Greci, Corigliano d’Otranto, Martignano, Zollino), in some other cases they are scattered in the rural context. Where buried, they are recorded by historical photos and toponyms. The pozzelle of Pyrrhus are one of the three rainwater collection systems still preserved and functioning in Zollino, along with the pozzelle of Apigliano, now Archeological Site, and the cisterns of Masseria Gloria.


A legend links this area to the passage through Zollino of Pyrrhus, King of Epirus, who, heading towards Taranto to fight the Romans, led his elephants to quench their thirst here.

Human history is the history of water conservation. In the absence of archeological data, the chronological framework of these pozzelle can only be related to the urban context they were linked to. Until now, the oldest archeological materials recovered in Zollino date back to the 14th century.

In any case, the first certain data on the presence of the pozzelle refers to the Holy Visit by the Most Illustrious and Most Reverend Lord Lucio Morra in 1608, which certifies their presence already at the beginning of the 17th century.

Roman commemorative coin dedicated to the victory over Pyrrhus and his elephants.

Structure and operation

The pozzelle are able to filter the rainwater deposited in the sinkhole in which they are made. They are not common wells, which draw water from the underground aquifer, nor dug and waterproofed cisterns for the collection of the surface rainwater. These systems guaranteed drinking water until the arrival of the Apulian Aqueduct, in the 1930s, and even later: they were used until the 1960s in Zollino!

They consist of three parts:

the underground structure: bell-shaped or cylindrical, made of walls in dry stone, shaped in a pseudo-dome, that is walls arranged in overlapping and gradually narrower circles;

the surface covering, slightly raised compared to the planking level: this is the pseudo-dome latch, made of dry stone of variable dimensions, which sometimes includes large square blocks, also reused;

the vera or boccapozzo: a shaped stony part (parallelepiped, cubic or barely rough-hewn), which facilitates drawing water from the pozzella by means of the central hole.

The process by which the pozzelle fill up with water takes place based on two directions:

Horizontal filtration
The red soil sediments which fill the sinkhole to the brim are soaked, as if they were a sponge, with water (temporary layers), which penetrates through the underground stone walls;

Gravity filtration
The rainwater penetrates directly from the surface covering.


A special visit to the Pozzelle of Pyrrhus with students from the last year of Primary from the “G. Falcone e P. Borsellino” K-14 school. A video story made in collaboration with the “Pozzelle Lab” knowledge and narration workshop.

Play Video
What are the pozzelle?
Play Video
Where are the pozzelle?
Play Video
The pozzelle of Pyrrhus
Play Video
Pozzelle of Pyrrhus. History and legend
Play Video
Pozzelle of Pyrrhus. Uses and names
Play Video
How do the pozzelle work?
Play Video
How were the pozzelle made?
Play Video
Why preserve the pozzelle?

Conservare l'acqua


a cura di A. Chiga, P. Durante,
S. Giammaruco