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The wine of the Nardò PDO derives from the grapes of four vines cultivated in the countryside of two municipalities: Nardò and Porto Cesareo. Nardò is a beautiful Baroque town in the heart of the Terra d’Arneo, which boasts a remarkable old town starting from Salandra Square, a concentration of works of art including the steeple of the tower dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, the City Palace, the Sedile with the statue of the patron San Gregorio Armeno, the old Palace of the Magistrate’s Court, the Church of San Trifone and the Fountain of the Bull. Not far away are the Cathedral and the monument of Hosanna near Porta San Paolo.
The Acquaviva d’Aragona castle lost its aspect of grim manor after its transformation into a civil residence by the Personè family between the 19th and 20th centuries.
A walk through the streets of Nardò reveals the architectural beauty of the noble palaces with their richly decorated façades, often with their mignano, the imposing Baroque balcony that allowed noble women to look out into the street without being seen.
Between the sea and the town, which gives its name to the area’s PDOwine, there is a locality called Le Cenate, with villas and small houses where the local nobility used to spend their holidays. A few kilometres away there are the beaches of Sant’Isidoro and the rocky and jagged coasts of Porto Selvaggio and Torre Inserraglio. On the Neretina coast there is also the half-moon cove of Santa Maria al Bagno which, in the Museum of Memory and Hospitality continues to tell the stories of the many Jews hosted by the locals between 1943 and 1947, and the elegant Santa Caterina, between Torre Santa Caterina surrounded by a thick pine forest and Torre dell’Alto, which acts as the entrance to the Natural Park of Porto Selvaggio and the Palude del Capitano.
Palude del Capitano is a wetland part of the Natural Park of Porto Selvaggio and covers over 500 hectares with pine forests, woods and sheets of water bordered by tamarisk, sage and rushes between high sand dunes and underwater caves. Near Porto Selvaggio the coast becomes high and rocky, while beyond the dense forest of Aleppo pines there is a cove of white pebbles.
Palude del Conte stretches along the entire protected marine area north of Porto Cesareo, beyond Torre Lapillo to the long golden beach of Punta Prosciutto.
The coast road on which the coastal towers of Sant’Isidoro and Squillace stand out, leads to Porto Cesareo and its protected marine area. The Roman columns laid down on the bottom of the sea confirm the importance of its port in the traffic of goods, among which wine had an important place. A small statue of the Egyptian god Thoth was also found in the basin during a fishing trip in 1932, and is now kept at the MarTa museum in Taranto.
The other treasures are naturalistic: from the prairie of phanerogams, an authentic biological rarity that offers oxygen, refuge and nourishment to marine organisms to the small hydromedusa “Turritopsis nutricula”, the only organism known to date capable of reversing its biological cycle and escaping death. While on the islet “Mojuso”, which means muddy, the Iris revoluta, the rare Salentine iris, flourishes.