Nardo's ancient roots are overshadowed by the boisterous Baroque. Founded by the Messapic people in the 10th century BC, it was conquered by the Romans in 269 BC, then passed to the Byzantines with the fall of the Roman Empire. It later went to the Dukes of Acquaviva, who made Nardo' a culture center for the Salento, endowing it with public buildings, a castle, and an academy for the arts and philosophy.
But despite its origins the city took on the fervor of the peculiar variety of Baroque that spread throughout the Salento from Lecce. The fanciful flair of design makes Nardo' a very pretty city. The historical center has a public piazza that is the center of civic life. Piazza Salandra is hemmed in by beautiful buildings, making it a wonderful gathering spot.
The Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, and the churches of San Domenico, Santa Chiara, and Sant'Antonio da Padova are all done in Baroque. The Cathedral, on the other hand, dates from 1090, though it was restructured in the 13th century, and boasts a Gothic-Romanesque facade. Inside is a flurry of frescoes and an ancient cedar wood cross. The little tempietto in Piazza Osanna is a decorative centerpiece to the piazza.
Nardo' has many restaurants which offer the best of both the sea and the surrounding fields. Puglia's agricultural heritage is proudly presented on the table with delicious results. The Ionian Sea is just a few minutes away, where beach-side dining is also abundant. The coast offers clean sandy beaches and calm, clear waters. Nardo' is central for seeing towns like Porto Cesareo, Gallipoli and the splendid city of Lecce.
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