Spongano is a small town, situated a few kilometers from the coast, in Southern Puglia, an area of great architectural, archeological, botanical, gastronomic and historic interest. It is an ideal base from which to explore this stunning and unspoilt part of Italy which, so far, has escaped the heavy tourism that dominates other parts of the country.
In the town centre you will find a good range of food shops and supermarkets as well as chemists and all other essentials. There is also a larger supermarket on the outskirts of the town.
A local farmer sells beautiful fresh produce from his van several mornings a week. He parks close to the Palazzo and is well worth a visit.
You can buy excellent local wines at the nearby winery.
There are a couple of good restaurants in the town, a pizza takeaway and several small cafe bars dotted around the village square. At least a couple of these also sell a good selection of ice-creams.
The village square is widely used by the local community. It hosts a wide variety of events from outside screenings of football matches through to Opera concerts.
There is weekly outdoor market with a good selection of interesting local cheeses and other fresh produce. It is well worth a visit.
A detailed list of shops, local markets and places to eat in and beyond the village is available upon request. Also typically for the region, shops stay open quite late in the evening but are closed for a few hours in the middle of the day. Most shops are closed on Sunday and one afternoon in the middle of the week.
Things to do
There are tennis courts in the village and various riding schools in the area. On the edge of the village there are attractive lanes through the olive groves which are ideal for long walks or cycle rides.
At Castro, small and large motorboats or acquascooters can be hired.
Spongano's proximity to the sea make it a great location for lovers of water sports with scuba-diving, sailing, windsurfing and kitesurfing very popular along the Adriatic coast. The cliffs offer ideal terrain for those who prefer more extreme activities like rock climbing and free climbing.
Trekking amateurs and experts will be spoiled for choice between the coastal paths, ancient mule tracks and the numerous caves. Travel by mountain bike to discover the hidden corners of Salento.
Santa Cesarea Terme is an important spa known for the curative properties of the sulphur water gushing from the four caves.
Many religious and cultural festivals and celebrations take place all over Salento. Two major festival are Le Panare - an ancient propitiatory rite connected with the olive harvest just before Christmas - and Santa Vittoria in August. A calendar of such activity is available to anyone staying at the Palazzo.
Furthermore, Sarah & Alessandro have incredibly deep knowledge about the area. They are more than happy to give you the kinds of tips and advice that don't exist in guidebooks and that will enrich your visit and make it even more special.
It is claimed that Spongano was founded by those who escaped from the destruction of Castro. The name Spongano comes from the Latin word 'spolium' which means 'driven out, despoiled'.
In 1190 Spongano was declared part of the principality of Taranto by a grant of King Tancredi d'Altavilla. Later it was the feud of the signori Orsini Del Balzo, Gattinara, Lemons and Rossi.
The imposing church was constructed in the second half of the last century after the demolition of the old church which was cramped and dilapidated.
The cult of Santa Vittoria, was imported by the Barone Bacile di Castiglione family who came from Le Marche and were very devoted to their local saint.