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Photo: Lupiae


Nardò, the second largest and most populous city in Salento, is an ancient town rich in culture, a palace, chapels, and churches amongst other architectural wonders. The name originates from an Illyrian word ‘Nar’ which means ‘water’ as the town was founded by Messapians who came from Illyria. It is located in the north-western part of Salento and borders different towns such as Galatina, Leverano, Veglie, Salice Salentino, Avetrana, Copertino, Porto Cesareo and Galatone.

Human activities can be traced back to the Palaeolithic time, the town was discovered by the Messapi back in 1000 BC. However, it was conquered by the Romans in 269 BC. Nardò was captured in 1055 by Normans and later in 1266 by the Angevines. It was handed over to Andrea Matteo Acquaviva in 1947. The first Duke of Nardò was the son of Andrea Matteo Acquaviva, Belisario, who promoted the Renaissance in the city. The city stood against Spanish dominion in the city.

Nardò was a place of refuge for about 100,000 Jewish concentration survivors, and the city allowed the Jews to express themselves freely in terms of religion and traditions in the Synagogue.

Nardò has various historical and fascinating sites, and some of the historical sites include the Piazza Salandra, located in the town’s centre; Legend has it that Nardò emerged on the spot where a bull created a well by using its hoof to strike the ground. The Fountain of the bull is located on Piazza Salandra and is one of the most beautiful baroque piazzas in southern Italy. It has a monumental spire in carpano stone. The Sedille is the oldest building in the town's square and houses the magistrate, who makes decisions relating to the town.

The top piece has the patron saint of the city, San Gregorio Armeno and his companions San Michele Arcangelo and Sant’Antonio of Padua, which was added in the 17th century. Another fascinating structure is the various orphan arches in various city locations. Another historical site is the Palazzo dell’universita, built from 1588 to 1612 on Piazza Salandra and accommodated the municipal offices till 1934.

Palazzo de Pandi was also constructed in the 18th century and renovated in the 1800s. Some of the incredible features include the glass roof arched passage between two buildings that are part of the Palazzo. The interiors of the court and some of the rooms are decorated with frescoes.

The church and Convent of saint Claire is the oldest monastery in Southern Italy. Clarisse Nuns established it in 1265 and came for refuge in the town. The Church of San Domenico built between the 16th to 18th century. It is decorated with a very popular façade with Baroque Carytids, columns and vegetable figures. The church of San Cosimo was built in 1618; the temple of Osanna was built in 1603; Nardò Cathedral was constructed in 000AD with an 18th-century façade and had a Romanesque-Gothic interior; Chiesa del Carmine.

The 2014 British musical film, 'Walking on Sunshine' was shot in Nardò. Nardò is also famous for the red and rose Italian DOC wines produced with grapes limited to 18 tonnes per ha yearly and composed of 80 to 100 % Negroamaro with Montepulciano. Malvasia Nera makes the remaining 20% with an alcohol level of 12.5 % minimum.

Daniele Greco, a triple Jumper; Fabrizio Miccoli, a footballer and Giuliano Sangiorgi, a singer and songwriter are all famous people who hail from Nardò.