The leather industry arose in Apulia, and in the Land of Otranto in particular, in the first half of the nineteenth century, when some French entrepreneurs started processing leather in the Reign of Naples, using new techniques and an innovative organization structure: they proposed new production spaces, mechanized the process by employing water mills to macerate the cortex, and increased the units in charge of the drying process. During the nineteenth century, specialized workers spread new techniques in the whole Reign.
The leather produced in Apulia, the golden Marocchino in particular (known as auripelle), the Bazano and the Cardavano were well known in Italy for their high quality. Within the Apulian region, the Land of Otranto, the far edge of the area, was the most productive territory in this field. Brindisi, Lecce, Galatina, Maglie, Massafra, Tricase, Francavilla Fontana, Cavallino and Grottaglie were the most important centers, and also nowadays the locals remember some linguistic expressions related to the leather industry. In Tricase, as an example, the inhabitants were called pellicaj, that is to say master tanners. In Galatina, during the eighteenth century, the leather workers were called “gallicaj” or “ditiniuri” (lit. black fingers), because of the brownish color on the skin of their hands after manipulating the leather with the tannin.
In Maglie, the toponymy is still marked by the old “cunzarie” (the buildings where leather was processed) thanks to a central road named “Via dei pellai” (lit. Tanner's Street); in Massafra there is “Via delle Concerie” (lit. Tannery's Road). In 1888, in the Land of Otranto there were 118 tanneries and workshops where leather was produced, with a grand total of 331 workers. They were small tanneries, which used as raw material the skins of animals killed in the near public slaughterhouses.
The leather manipulation process was mainly traditionally handmade. The artisans used oak bark, lentisk and myrtle to tan the leather, also destined to shoe soles and uppers. The Yearbook of statistics in 1891 recorded just 59 active tanneries, mainly concentrated in the area of Galatina (11 tanneries). Grottaglie hosted 10 tanneries and there were 6 more in Maglie.
The registered owners were Tobia De Donatis, Pasquale Donateo, Ferramosca, Paolini & Nicola, Francesco Portaluri, Luigi Portaluri, Medico Portaluri, Marco Tondi and Giuseppe Tondi. Galatina hosted a famous tannery, owned by the Company Lisi Donato & Sons - where a fourhorsepower steam boiler was already implemented.
In Maglie, Galatina, Tricase, Cavallino and Massafra it has been possible to retrace their history. 
During the twentieth century, tanneries disappeared from the Land of Otranto also because of water shortages, the fast changes within the market and the industrial evolution of techniques.