S. VITO DEI NORMANNI
Situated on the Salento peninsular,
not too far from the splendid Adriatic coast of Puglia, is
where one will find San Vito dei Normanni, which conserves
important works of art.
Its origins seems to come from the arrival of a Slavic colony,
escaping from the Saracens (963), who founded Castri Sancti
Viti, the first city nucleus dedicated to the martyr San Vito.
Boemondo d’Altavilla had a square tower built which
was surrounded by a ditch (1096) dedicated to his hunting
The territory however, was inhabited since the Bronze Age,
as testified by tomb and ceramic finds from the Mondescine
area. Finds from the Iron Age and Messapian Era (VIII Century
BC) has also been uncovered in the districts of Castello and
San Vito degli Schiavoni optimised its population at the end
of the Medieval period when Turkish threats pushed the inhabitants
from rural homes spread across the territory, to gather in
the area of the Norman tower and build the Castle.
Beginning in the XV Century, the fortified suburb became a
Commune and San Vito developed outside the City walls.
Over the centuries, the City was administered by the following
families: the Sambiase, De Gragnano, Chiaramonte, Del Balzo,
Palagano, Albrizio, Serra, Belprato, Caracciolo and Dentici
In the Late Medieval period, the San Giovanni and the Santa
Maria degli Angeli Churches ware built, giving a more complete
urban planning to the fort.
In 1484 the settlement was besieged by Venice who were always
looking for new commercial ports along the Adriatic coast
Towards the end of the ‘500s, San Vito as with all other
centres in Puglia, experienced the arrival of religious fraternal
orders who built new churches and convents.
During the XVI Century, San Vito became part of the Spanish
Crown domain and experienced a period of economic decline
which continued throughout the duration of the Reign of the
Beginning from 1799, the year of the Republic of Naples experience,
and for the entire 19th Century, San Vito’s inhabitants
actively participated in every Renaissance event, which concluded
in annexation to the Reign of Italy (1861). The suburb was
also seat of a rivendita Carbonara (Smaller city associations
linked to the Carbonari movement which promoted independent
On 13th December 1863, the habitation took on its actual name
of San Vito dei Normanni.
Apart from the Castle, one can visit the following in the
City: the Santa Maria della Vittoria Church (1571-1595), built
to commemorate the victory over the Turks during the Battle
of Lèpanto, in which some of its citizens actively
Outside the City, it’s worth a visit to the Rupestrian
Churches, founded by Basilian monks escaping iconoclastic
persecution from the Eastern Emperor (VII-X Century); among
which we’d like to remember San Giovanni and San Biagio.