The civic coat of arms
of Ortelle is very recent, since it was allotted by the President of the
in 1998. It has got a blue background on which there are three trees and a
church. There are no historical documents about the origins of this small
centre, but only some contrasting theories. Some historians advocate that the
first village was built by those who surveyed the destruction of Vaste while for
others it was built during the Byzantine period. Another hypothesis is that in
ancient times Ortelle was full of vegetation, and the noble people of Castro
built there some villas. Other people built their houses around those villas and
the centre became bigger and bigger. The toponym comes from the Latin "orti"
meaning the splendid gardens around the villas of the gentlemen. The feudal age
in the Salento began after the arrival of the Normans, but there are no certain
news of that period.
Probably Ortelle and Castro had the same destiny. In 1536 the population
increased notably after the arrival of the surveyors
of Castro, who had escaped from the violent invasion of the Turks. One of the
most famous local people is Giuseppe Casciaro. He lived between the XIX and the
XX centuries, and he remained orphan when he was still a little boy. His talent
for the painting was so clear that one of his relatives helped him. He painted a
lot and some of his paintings have been exhibited in the best galleries of
Paris, Milan and Bruxelles.