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Copertino, Province of Lecce, Puglia

copertino coatofarms Copertino was the native town of Giuseppe Maria Desa born on 17th June 1603, who became a saint of the Catholic church as San Giuseppe da Copertino.

Info

  • Altitude: a.s.l
  • Population: about 22,000 inhabitants
  • Zip/postal code: 73043
  • Dialing Area Code: +39 0832.

History

The legend says that the town was founded in the Middle Ages, probably in 924 AD, by the refugees of the countryside around Mollone, Cigliano and Cambrò and Nardò, attacked by the Saracens. The name comes from Conventino, later corrupted into Copertino. In 1088, Norman count Goffredo erected the Parish Church. Copertino was a flourishing commercial centre, whose economy was largely based on the production of olive oil, which was carried to Gallipoli to be shipped to all over Europe. Some of the ancient underground olive presses used well into the the 19th century, can still be visited.

What to see

  • The church of San Giuseppe da Copertino erected where the saint was born, in a stable where his mother, countess Franceschina Panaca took shelter to escape from the persecution of her husband's persecutors.
  • The Copertino castle, built in the Norman period and renovated in 1540 to comply with the recent developments in military architecture (invention of gun powder) according to a project by Evangelista Menga, including a ditch and majestic bastions with 90 arrow slits to allow cannon movements.
  • The Parish church of the Virgin of the Snow started under Gottfried in 1088 and completed in by Manfred of Swabia. The five-sided apse and the belltower were added in 1576 by architect Francesco Maria Tarantino. In the 18th century the interior of the church was decorated in the baroque style and the original Romanesque frescos were lost. There is a beautiful choir engraved by Raffaele Monteanni, a 17th-century altar by Antonio Donato Chiarello, surmounted by a 15th-century fresco of the Virgin of the Snow.

Where to stay