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 passion.
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 Paretone.
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 of Frasso.
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 of Puglia.
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 Two Sicilies.
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 ideas).
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 participated.
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.

S.VITO DEI NORMANNI
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Puglia (Apulia) region of Italy

 

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