At the feet of the “Serre Salentine” – the rocky hills which are characteristic of the lower Salento – lies the small town of San Donato. Historically a rural village without any perimeter walls or defensive fortification around it, this town will mesmerize you with its beautiful and elegant eighteenth-century aristocratic manors, which lie just a few steps away from the town’s main religious building, and its many chapels like the one dedicated to Sant’ Antonio Abate.
You will be captivated by the town’s structure, organized in such a way that all the houses and buildings are built around either the Baronial palace or the Mother Church dedicated to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, which was almost completely rebuilt after 1704.
Along the long neoclassical façade of the castle, you will discover the magnificent sixteenth-century atrium, which displays a gorgeous loggia, decorated with acanthus-leaf and pomegranate-fruit- shaped ornaments. Don’t forget about the Church’s exterior double-ordered façade and the fine eighteenth-century altars featured in its interior. The entrance portal features the huge statue of San Donato Vescovo, which denotes the ancient devotion to San Donato’s Patron Saint by the local community, which celebrates three different yearly festivities in his honour, all taking place in August.
If you are interested about the local products this land has to offer, don’t forget that San Donato is the home of the meloncella, the local fruit that the ancient local historians glorified for its size and sugary content. Also known as cummarazzi, cucumbarazzi or pagghiotte in the local dialect, meloncelle are elongated muskmelons with a characteristic green or dark-coloured fluffy peel, grown in the spring and summer seasons. If you have the chance to go there but you end up forgetting one of its complicated local names, you will certainly remember about the meloncella’s crunchy, fresh and delicate consistency.