Ancient origins of the Village
The medieval village of Nardò is located in the Province of Lecce in the beautiful Puglia that includes a stretch of the Ionian coast of Salento having antique origins dating back to the antique prehistory thanks to some archaeological evidence found on the region.
The origin of the borough dates back to the seventh century BC. Then, with the fall of the Roman Empire of the 476, and the ballets between Byzantines and the Goths in 544, Nardò came under the Byzantine rule between 552 and 554 and, for a very limited period of time, under the rule of the Lombards between 662 and 690. In 761 had an influence of the monks who spread the East ritual and worship with the development of private and agrarian law descended from their countries of origin and built the Abbey of Santa Maria di Nerito and the Greek language became predominant.
The city walls and the castle (this is no longer visible) were built in 1058 by Goffredo Normanno, the nephew of Roberto il Guiscardo who conquered Nardò and Lecce and the Benedictine monks settled down in place of the Basilian at the Abbey of Santa Maria di Nerito.
The Cathedral Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta was found by Eastern monks on the ruins of the Church of Santa Maria de Neritorio with monastery dedicated to the Assumption of 1088. The two naves with two tiers of arches and pointed arches supported by rectangular pillars, the walls decorated with frescoes of the fourteenth century of San Nicola, St. Agostino, Cristo Pantocrator, Madonna with Child, Madonna of Health and others. The presbytery with the main altar of the nineteenth century and the area reserved for singers of 1590, a wooden crucifix of the thirteenth century better known as “Black Christ” for the very dark wood as well as for the presence of side altars of the Baroque period and the Chapel of 1680 of San Gregorio Armeno by Placido Buffelli.
The Episcopal Seminary of 1674 was built on the will of Bishop Tommaso Brancaccio with neoclassical façade is divided horizontally by two pilasters with the bottom by an ashlar (processing walls used in ancient times) ground and in the upper part, the smooth wall is interrupted by a rhythmic alignment of windows with architraves and the presence of an ashlar with corners. The portal is surmounted by a balcony with a door window frames circumscribed and crowned by an architrave with pediment.
The Church of San Domenico built between 1580 and 1594 with three naves and basicale plant later transformed into a single room for better preaching. It was partially destroyed by an earthquake of 1743 with the exception of the front, left side and part of the wall of the sacristy. The carparo façade (calcarenite stone) with the bottom covered with human figures and leaning caryatids; the upper part, with more subtle forms. The interior, with a Latin cross plan and three chapels on each side with a painting of Our Lady of the Rosary. Near the Church of the Dominicans with the fountain of the Taurus of 1930 in the north made by the sculptor Michele Gaballo.
The Church of the Immaculate Conception of 1580 built on the ruins of a medieval building with projection in carparo divided into two orders from a distinct ledge by pairs of pilasters including gabled niches. The portal has a niche with a statue of the Immaculate Conception in a local stone place in line with rosette. The interior of the Church has a single nave ending in the presbytery with three side altars in Baroque style.
The Church and Convent of Santa Chiara of the thirteenth century is one of the oldest monasteries in Puglia. In the seventeenth century was built the adjacent Church of San Giovanni Battista. The interior has a single nave with three chapels and baroque altars and chancel decorated with pilasters painted in polychrome marble.
The Church of Madonna del Carmine of 1460 with Romanesque façade and adjacent convent. The bottom is marked with a porch that dominates the entrance with two lions. The statues of the Angel of the Annunciation and of Our Lady Annunziata of five hundred are placed in the niches, over the decorated peduccio with arches on the main façade and side. The interior of the church is decorated with fine Barocco stucco, six arches on pillars and the square presbytery with the choir. The aisles and altars are dedicated to the Trinity, Madonna del Carmine, St. Eligius, the Crucifix, St. Catherine of Alexandria, the Sacred Heart, and the Annunciation.
The Church of Santa Maria della Purità built between 1710 and 1724 by the Swiss-Italian Architect Francesco Borromini with concave and convex surfaces accentuated by moldings and decorative elements of the Neapolitan repertoire of the time. The interior has a Greek cross plan with very short arms emphasized by four pilasters with stucco decorations. The main altar in polychrome marble with a painting of Madonna dei Santi and, on the side, a canvas of Nicola tra Santi and Martyrdom of San Gennaro.
The Church of St. Anthony of Padua of 1499, built on the ruins of a synagogue in a Jewish neighborhood knows as the “Giudecca” with the prospectus of local stone with Baroque decorations inside. The structure has a single nave with a wooden ceiling and altars with paintings and statues of the five to six hundred as the representation of St. Anthony of Padua in 1514, the Crucifixion of the seventeenth-century Venetian school. At the rear of the main altar is a burial monument in 1545.
The Church of San Giuseppe Patriarca of 1758 built on the site of an earlier church of the XVI-XVII century. The interior with octagonal and bas-relief with the Flight into Egypt, in addition to the three baroque altars with paintings of St. Joseph, St. Apollonio and St. Oronzo. Other paintings on canvas depicting the Blessed Transit and the marriage of St. Joseph. Near the church is the Oratory of the Confraternity and the meeting room with an altar dedicated to the SS. Crucified with a wooden cross and the statue of Jesus on the Cross, St. John the Evangelist and Mary Magdalene at the foot.
The Church of St. Trifone of the eighteenth century with façade embellished with Corinthian pilasters and niches. The nave of rectangular cross-section with four pillars on each side surmounted by arches in the center where there are windows on each side. The presbytery with an altar dedicated to St. Trifone the Martyr, portrait in the painting by the painter Nicola Russo.
The Church of Santa Teresa in 1699 with convent made in two different periods of time. The nave and the inner wall of each open chapel framed by concave and pilasters. The vault is embellished with stucco reliefs as well as interior decoration. The church has three altars with the greater altarpiece depicts the Ecstasy of St. Teresa, while the side with the paintings of St. Teresa, St. Giuseppe and St. Giovanni della Croce.
The Crypt of St. Antonio Abate of the twelfth century with rectangular nave preceded by an uncovered narthex. The interiors walls are decorated with Byzantine paintings of the thirteenth century depicting St. Francis of Assisi, the Annunciation, St. Anthony the Great, Madonna with Child, the Crucifixion, Christ Pantocrator, St. Peter, St. Nicholas, St. Gregory, St. Demetrius and St. John the Baptist.
The buildings of historic interest are numerous as the Courthouse building whose construction is connected to the University. The building is with rococo furnishings dating from the late seventeenth century, inside the Statue of St. Gregorio Armeno, St. Michael the Archangel and St. Anthony of Padua and paintings on canvas of some Saints. The Municipal Theatre of the nineteenth century with textile ornaments made a famous craftsman. The Palace of the University of the sixteenth century in the late baroque style.
The area is rich in farms scattered all over town, ancient Villas and architectural buildings such as the Acquaviva Castle dating from the second half of the fifteenth century, natural areas such as the Park of Porto Selvaggio and Captain Marsh and museums which collect testimonies from various eras.
Good food in Nardò
The cuisine of the borough is poor for the ingredients used like flour, barley, wheat, but rich in substance and tradition covering different types of meat and fish in order to taste the best local dishes, as well as extra virgin olive oil and full-bodied wines such as Red Nardò, Nardò Rosso Riserva and Nardò Rosato.
The tourism in the Salento area is recognized and appreciated worldwide for its marine areas of excellence such as Santa Maria al Bagno, Santa Caterina, Porto Selvaggio, Palude del Capitano “Captain Marsh” (the latter with the Regional Natural Park) and Torre dell’Inserraglio, reaching St. Isidoro with shallow waters and fine white sand, in addition to inlets and Mediterranean pine forests rich in biodiversity.