Copertino: history, what to see, where to eat [Guide 2024]

Copertino, a secret gem of the Salento hinterland, reveals itself as a fascinating treasure chest of history, culture and tradition. In this enchanting location in the province of Lecce, every stone tells millenary stories, every alley is permeated with a unique atmosphere. In this article we will discover Copertino from top to bottom, giving you all the information and useful advice for visiting this fascinating town.

Castello_di_Copertino
Photo by Wikipedia

History of Copertino Lecce

Copertino, with its roots dating back to between 560 and 615 AD, is a city rich in history and tradition. Since its formation after the Saracen invasions, Copertinohas gone through various dominationss, including the Byzantine and Norman ones. In the 14th century, it became a county under the Brienne and d’Enghien. During the 15th and 16th centuries, the city prospered as a commercial hub thanks to its olive groves and underground oil mills.

The 16th century saw the rise of the Pignatelli family, who maintained control of the county until the subversion of feudalism. In the 17th century, Copertino witnessed the miracles of the friar Giuseppe Desa da Copertino, elevated to the altars by the Church. In the 19th century, the city began a journey towards the contemporary era, trying to free itself from the last legacies of feudalism. In 1861, Copertino participated in the plebiscite vote for Italian unification, marking the beginning of a phase of growth and development. During the fascist period, schools were opened, contributing to the cultural and civil progress of the city. Copertino has thus gone through centuries of changes, preserving its historical and cultural identity.

What is Copertino famous for?

Copertino is renowned for being thebirthplace of St. Joseph of Cupertino, the famous Capuchin friar of the 17th century. Saint Joseph is known for his miracles and mystical experiences, becomingpatron saint of students, aviators and astronauts. In addition to its religious heritage, Copertino is also famous for its charming historic center, ancient churches and cultural traditions.

What are the inhabitants of Copertino called?

The inhabitants of Copertino are known as “copertinesi“, a name of which the population is very proud.

Where is Copertino located?

Copertino is located in Salento, precisely in the province of Lecce. Its strategic location makes it easily accessible for visitors from various parts of the country and beyond. Surrounded by breathtaking landscapes and fascinating coasts, Copertino is a true paradise for those who want to undertake a slow and authentic journey. span>

How to get to Copertino

To reach Copertino, it is possible to use different means of transport. If you arrive by plane, the closest airport is Brindisi, from which you can take a taxi or rent a car to reach your destination. Alternatively, you can opt for the train or bus.

  • By train: it is possible to take a train to Lecce from Brindisi station and in Lecce change trains by taking one for Cupertino.
  • By bus: also in this case, you need to take a bus towards Lecce and here make a change for Copertino.

What to see in Copertino Salento

Copertino historic center

The historic center of Copertino, surrounded by its medieval walls, offers a fascinating journey through time. Characterized by paved streets, historic buildings and ancient places of worship such as the Basilica of Santa Maria ad Nives and the Sanctuary of San Giuseppe da Copertino, the village preserves a rich artistic heritage. The majestic Copertino Castle dominates the horizon, while the ancient gates, including the evocative Porta di San Giuseppe, welcome visitors in an authentic atmosphere.

Basilica of Santa Maria ad Nives

The Basilica of Santa Maria ad Nives was founded in 1088 by the count Godfrey the Norman. Raised to a royal basilica by Manfredi in 1235, it is dedicated to the Virgin of the Assumption.

Basilica_della_Madonna_della_Neve_in_Copertino,_Italy
Wikipedia photo

Santuario San Giuseppe da Copertino

Built in 1758, the Santuario di San Giuseppe has a central plan and contains numerous relics of the Saint, including his heart which arrived in Copertino in 1953.

Paternal House of St. Joseph

A small house that belonged to Felice Desa, father of Saint Joseph, modified in 1753 into a chapel by the Friars Minor.

Casa_paterna_di_San_Giuseppe_da_Copertino-foto wikipedia
Wikipedia photo

Santuario della Grottella

Built in the 16th century, the Santuario della Grottella is linked to ecstasies of St. Joseph. It hosts important artistic and musical events in its large park.

Santuario_della_Grottella_Copertino
Wikipedia photo

Church of Santa Chiara

Founded in 1545, theChurch and monastery of Santa Chiarawere remodeled in the 18th century, taking on a baroque style.

Palazzo Pappi

Residence of the Pappi family, with a characteristic Renaissance portal created by Evangelista Menga.

Farms

Among the things to see in Copertino and the surrounding area, there are several farms such as Masseria Fortificata Annibale, Masseria il Trappeto, Masseria La Torre, Masseria Li Monaci , Masseria Messere, Masseria Mollone, Masseria Cambrò, Masseria La Nova and Masseria La Cornula.

Palazzo Ventura

Residence of the Ventura family with an 18th century portal.

Prence Palace

With traces originating from the seventeenth century, it features frescoes, lunetted barrel vaults and a portal dedicated to San Michele Arcangelo.

Copertino Castle

The copertino castle, with its star-shaped structure from the 16th century, develops around a square courtyard. The four corner bastions give the building an imposing presence, while the quadrangular tower, dating back to the 13th-14th century, testifies to its Norman roots. The castle, surrounded by a moat, is accessed today via a stone bridge, even if it originally did not have this function. The access portal, with Catalan-Durazzo elements, is adorned with war motifs and decorations that recall the warrior atmosphere of the time.

The internal courtyard hosts galleries connecting to the bastions and two important structures: the Pinelli-Pignatelli portico and the chapel of San Marco, frescoed by Gianserio Strafella in the sixteenth century. Thegentle chapel of Santa Maria Maddalena,with fifteenth-century frescoes, was discovered during the restoration works in the sixteenth-century residential environments. Declared a national monument in 1886, the castle is today under the protection of the Superintendence of Fine Arts and Landscape for the provinces of Lecce, Brindisi and Taranto.

Gate of St. Joseph:

Erected in 1430, transformed into a triumphal arch in 1754 in honor of Saint Joseph.

Porta_San_Giuseppe_Copertino
Wikipedia photo

Malassiso Gate:

Made in 1540 by Alfonso Castriota, with the statue of San Sebastiano, now preserved on a votive column.

Church of Santa Maria di Casole

Located outside the city centre, it dates back to the first half of the sixteenth century and has original frescoes and a particular choir.

Chiesa_Santa_Maria_di_Casole_Copertino
Wikipedia photo

Chapel of Santa Maria delle Grazie

Built in the sixteenth century, it features frescoes from 1707 and canvases by Fra Angelo da Copertino.

Crypt of San Michele Arcangelo

Located in the countryside south of the town, it dates back to 1314 and contains frescoes of the Crucifix and St. Michael the Archangel.

Where to eat in Cupertino

The city of Copertino offers a variety of gastronomic options, from traditional to pubs and pizzerias. Here are some tips on where to eat in Copertino:

  • Pizzaapp
  • Arco Divino,Piazza Castello
  • Il giardino delle Clarisse
  • Escamotage
  • Le Fogge – Birra Vino Braci

How far is Copertino from the sea?

Copertino is not directly located on the sea, but its strategic position in the heart of Salento allows easy access to the splendid beaches of the Ionian and Adriatic coasts. Distances vary depending on the specific destination, but generally,the closest beaches are located around 15-20 kilometers from Copertino.

Sea blanket

Despite not being a seaside resort, Copertino is an ideal base for exploring the breathtaking beaches along the Salento coast. Its particular proximity to the Ionian coast makes some beaches accessible in a few minutes by car. So here are which beaches are closest to Copertino:

  • Porto Cesareo 
  • Porto Selvaggio
  • Torre Squillace
  • Torre Inserraglio
  • La Strea 
  • Scala di Furno
  • Torre Lapillo

When is Copertino partying?

Copertino celebrates several festivals during the year, including the main festival dedicated to San Giuseppe da Copertino, patron saint of the city, held between 16 and 19 September. During this religious festival, the city comes alive with processions, cultural events and concerts which welcome hundreds of visitors every year.

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Team HDSalento

Articles by the HDSalento team

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