Giurdignano is a beautiful town that belongs to very ancient roots. An elective place where Italian-Greek monks left precious evidence of their living, it had already been a Roman settlement, as remnants witness an imperial necropolis from the II - III century a.C.. A place rich of ancient folklore and traditions, it is also one of the most important sites where Megalithic findings were discovered; in fact, many are the dolmen and menhir existing around the area especially in the one called: "Megalithic garden".
Centoporte Abbey is closely tied to the hydruntino monastery of San Nicola de Casulis, it is an important centre of the Greek Italian culture, known for its enriched library, amongst the most valuable in Europe. Dedicated to SS. Martiri Cosma e Damiano, the Abbey was said of "Centoporte" because the several numbers of windows the building used to have. The Abbey had never completely finished but it was used as the unit of an ensemble likely to be monastic, run from the VII century.
Giurdignano: The Tables of Saint Joseph
The tables of Saint Joseph are an ancient tradition of Giurdignano. They date back to the middle age and show the influences of the Greek ritual church which, in the town of Giurdignano, had taken place for a long time. They also distinguish themselves by depicting and showing Byzantine -baroque influences that easily charm the visitors.
On the occasion of the celebration of Saint Joseph, during the evening of the 18th of March, some tables are arranged and traditional food is placed on them. The performance of the cerimony is very interesting; three big breads are made: one with three spheres, the baby Jesus symbol, one with a rosary to symbolise the Virgin Mary and one with a stick in the honour of Saint Joseph.
The breads are offered to the guests amongst which there is the Virgin Mary, played by a young girl, and the character of Saint Joseph who, by hitting the table with the fork for three times, makes the guests stopping eating and starting to say several prayers; in the mean time, the landlord introduces a new meal. Eventually thirteen meals will be served for each Saint taking part to the ceremony.
This is one of the most evocative traditions in Salento, becoming through the years a sign of peace and unity between the people of the Mediterranean