Copertino

COPERTINO

Approximately 15 km from Lecce, in the Salentina peninsular is where one can find Copertino; a city which is dominated by its Medieval Castle.

Copertina was probably founded due to the reunification of inhabitants from Casole, Cigliano, Mallone and Cambrò. These new citizens, who were probably dispersed in previous centuries, due to the Goth and Vandal invasions in 560 AD, gave new life to the new city, which took the name of Cittadella, then changed to Conventino, Cupertino and finally Copertino.
The origins of the habitation therefore came about after the Greek-Gothic War (535-553), which abolished the Ostrogoth Reign in Italy and made Puglia Byzantine property for centuries; especially its Southern regions. The Byzantine period, however, did not see Copertino recorded in any historical documentation. Its existence didn’t appear in records until the Norman period, in the 11th Century, when Goffredo of Altavilla, son of Roberto Guiscard, decided to build the Cathedral (1088), which was later dedicated to the Vergine delle Nevi (Snow Virgin) of Manfredi (1235), son of Fedrick II of Swabia.
With the fall of the Swabians by Angioini hands (1266), Copertino was first entrusted to the De Pratis Family, then to the Brienne of Lecce, who amplified the Swabian castle, and then to the Enghien. Copertino then passed first , through marriage, to the Orsini then the Chiaromonte Family, who during the 15th Century ordered the construction of the City’s defensive walls.
In 1498, Copertino passed hands to the Aragonese and was entrusted to the Castriota Scanderberg Family from Albania, as thanks for their help during battles against the French. Under their rule, Copertino enjoyed a period of major town planning development: the defensive walls were amplified and fortified and the S. Chiara Monastery built.
The Castle was also amplified under their domination, on the wishes of Alfonso Castriota, who entrusted the work to the architect Evangelista Menga (1540).
In 1557, the City was acquired by Vittoria of Oria through auction, and the subsequent century saw the progressive exit of the population from its medieval walls.
In the 18th Century, Copertino, as with many other regions in Puglia, was hit by earthquakes and famine, further aggravated through bad governing by the Bourbons which began in 1742.
Its rebirth had to await Bonaparte’s arrival in Italy during 1799, the Republic of Naples experience (1806), which were followed by the Carbonari (An association which promoted independent ideas) clashes (1820) and culminating with the fall of the Bourbons by the hand of the Garibaldi.
Its citizens became part of the Reign of Italy through plebiscitary ballot (1860).
San Giuseppe (St Joseph) was born here and became the patron of astronauts due to his rare gift of being able to levitate.
A visit to Copertino can begin in its centre, where one can admire the magnificent Norman-Swabian Castle, later modified by both the Angioini and Castriota families.
Apart from the already cited Chiesa Matrice, other churches to visit are: the Casole Church (13th Century), the Dominican complex, the Monastery and the S. Chiara Church.
Among the civil architecture worth a visit, we can recommend the following buildings: Prence, Ventura, Pappi and Capozza with its beautiful portal.
Just outside the City, one can visit the “frantoi ipogei” which have been used during olive oil production since ancient Roman times.

COPERTINO
Art City

Puglia (Apulia) region of Italy
Castello - Copertino
CASTLE
Ponte del Castello - Copertino
CASTLE

 

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