The name of the town originates from its patron San Pancrazio Martir. The attribute "Salentino" was added in 1862. The coat of arms represents a crowned eagle with spread wings that has an ear of corn in its beak and a star in its chest. The first urban settlement, which will later give the town its name, was built at the end of the 10th and the beginning of the 11th century, around a chapel dedicated to the Saint, who is believed to have passed through these lands before going to Rome. and presumably located on the site where the current Church of Sant'Antonio da Padova is today. The entire territory, in the twelfth century, became a fief of the Archiepiscopal Mensa of Brindisi until 1866, when its assets passed to the state. In 1221 Archbishop Pellegrino enlarged the ancient Parish Church, dedicated to San Pancrazio and at the same time completed the Archbishop's Palace or Castle (1216-1222), which became the summer seat of the Brindisi Curia in the return of the Holy Visits. In 1547 the quiet city was shaken by a Turkish incursion: on the night of January 1st, a hundred Turkish privateers landed in Torre Colimena and, led by a certain Chria, originally from Avetrana, but absent for many years, reached San Pancrazio, seizing the completely defenseless population. All the inhabitants were captured, transported to Turkey and sold as slaves. The episode is narrated in the wall paintings found in the church of Sant'Antonio da Padova, which was also sacked. The reconstruction and repopulation of the town is due to Francesco Aleandro, who can be considered a second founder of San Pancrazio. After the long feudal season, the farmhouse remained aggregated, as a hamlet, to Torre Santa Susanna until 1839, when King Ferdinand II established the administrative autonomy of the town.
The Mother Church (1862-1869), dedicated to Saints Pancrazio and Francis of Assisi is located in Piazza Umberto I, in front of the Town Hall. It has a neoclassical facade with simple and rigorous decoration, ending with a large tympanum that recalls the smaller one on the portal. On the bell tower is the statue of San Pancrazio. The interior is a Latin cross, with three naves; the semi-spherical dome, rich in decorative details, rests on the round arches. In the semicircular apse stands the eighteenth-century marble altar. In the heart of the historic center is the Church of Sant'Antonio da Padova, around which the first residential nucleus seems to have developed (X-XI century). The architecture of the church is in the late Romanesque style (12th century), with Renaissance elements; the facade is characterized by an elegant sixteenth-century style portal while the interior, with a single nave with barrel vaults, has two characteristic hanging stone stoups. Above the side entrance, a mural appears, describing the assault and sacking of the town by 100 Turkish corsairs in 1547. Adjacent to the church, in Piazza Castello, is the Archbishop's Castle, built in 1221 by Archbishop Pellegrini, it was enlarged in 1510. The Church of the Santissima Annunziata (1510), with a single nave, preserves oil on canvas paintings from the 18th century. The Church of San Giuseppe Lavoratore, in the artisan area of the town, is the most recent (1996). The 3 km from the town, surrounded by greenery, is the Sanctuary of Sant’Antonio alla Macchia, still today the destination of numerous pilgrimages.
THE ROCKY SETTLEMENTS: Traces of frequentation in the cave are present in the western area of the municipal area. In Contrada Caragnuli, near the homonymous farm, there is a medieval or early medieval rock settlement, for civil use, intercepted and largely destroyed in recent times by a quarry for the extraction of limestone blocks. In Contrada Caretta, in the area called "Sant’Antonio alla Macchia" there is an underground oil mill and a small cave dedicated to Sant’Antonio Abate dating back to at least the seventh century. Finally, an isolated place of worship is present in Contrada Torrevecchia, within the area belonging to the Torrevecchia Farmhouse, where the crypt of the Angel (dedicated to San Vito) is located, dating back to the VIII - IX century, frescoed with figures of saints with large cloaks.
MASSERIE: Of the numerous building complexes typical of early 1900s rural architecture, the following deserve particular attention: Torrevecchia, located along the old road to Avetrana; Mattarella, along the road to Torre Santa Susanna; Scazzi and Gli Angeli north of the municipal area.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES: Traces of an ancient Messapian settlement have been found about 1 km east of the town, in the Contrada Li Castieddi, with continuity of life from the eighth century. B.C. until the first century. AD, when the site was gradually abandoned. The structures brought to light, thanks to the reconnaissance and systematic excavation campaigns, relate to the peripheral area of the Hellenistic settlement (IV-III century BC) characterized by a stretch of a road axis with residential areas on the sides. Burials have also been found inside courtyards, dug into the earth and covered with slabs, and areas for processing pottery. The Contrada was already known as an area of archaeological interest from 1900 following random finds and clandestine excavations: Attic vases with black paint, Italiot pottery, loom weights. In 1960 a group of 300 bronze axes and spearheads from the Iron Age was found.
The typical cuisine is characterized by inexpensive ingredients, expertly blended to offer unique, tasty and imaginative dishes. For the preparation of homemade pasta, durum wheat flour or barley flour was mainly used. In addition to lajini (wide fettuccine often seasoned with chickpeas), orecchiette and macaroni (also called pizzarieḍḍi or maccarruni) served with tomato sauce and ricotta cheese are popular. Wild and cultivated vegetables are widely used: li cimi ti rapi nfucati, li spunzali allu fuecu and li pampasciuni. Perhaps the most typical dish of the peasant tradition is the puree of shelled broad beans with wild chicory (fài and foij) or with fried bread and chilli (fai e pani frittu and pipinu maru). Blue fish also occupies an important place followed by cod which is cooked in winter also in combination with pasta. For very tasty meat dishes are the turcinieḍḍi, rolls made from the entrails of the lamb (prepared in the Easter period) and lu sangunazzu. Typical are also among the dairy products lu sieru and ricotta šchanti. Fantasy dominates above all in desserts: traditional peasant figs are the figs ncucchiati cu la mennùla (figs dried in the sun and then garnished with almonds); typical of the Christmas period are purciḍḍuzzi and ncartiḍḍati, respectively small balls and washers in the shape of a rose made of fried crispy sweet pastry and then turned in honey and garnished with pine nuts or almonds and colored sprinkles. For the feast of St. Joseph, the classic zeppole or zèppuli are traditional.
In honor of the Patron Saint, San Pancrazio Martire, solemn civil and religious celebrations are held on 11 and 12 May, during which the relics kept in the Mother Church, dedicated to SS. Pancrazio and Francis of Assisi. On 3 and 4 October, however, the celebrations of the saint take place in honor of St. Francis of Assisi. Another religious celebration is that linked to Sant’Antonio Abate, honored by celebration on June 13 at the Sanctuary of Sant’Antonio alla Macchia, where the small cave dedicated to the saint stands.
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