The medium-sized town of Nardo (population 32,000) is perhaps best known as the home of the Nardo Ring – a high speed motor test track located on its outskirts. If tearing around a race track at speeds of over 240 km/h is not your thing, however, there is still plenty to do in this peaceful 1,000 year-old destination, with culture-vultures, history-buffs, architecture fans and beach bums all well-catered for.
Nardo is well visited for the fine Baroque architecture that can be witnessed in many of the towns’ structures. A high percentage of these buildings are located in and around Piazza Salandra, a large open space that is the main meeting point in the town centre. The 11th century cathedral is the most notable structure and contains a well-preserved Romanesque-Gothic interior, whilst the 16th century Church of San Domenico and the 17th century Church of San Cosimo are also well worth a look in between sampling the local food and wine that the cafes have to offer.
Holidaymakers also visit Nardo due to its close proximity to the coast, with it being possible to get from the centre of town to the beaches within ten minutes by car. The area in between is rich and varied, containing lush greenery, olive groves, vineyards and other natural attractions – perfect for outdoor activities, especially during the sunshine and warm temperatures that spring, summer and autumn bring every year without fail.
All of the shops, cafes, bars, restaurants and supermarkets that you are likely to need during your stay can be found in and around the town centre, with more on offer near the beach front.
Puglia remains largely untouched by mass tourism, so if you head outside of Nardo you will not get caught up in throngs of other holidaymakers. This also means that most destinations have a laid-back feel to them, and this is particularly evident in the sleepy seaside town of Porto Cesareo (16km), which can be reached in just 20 minutes by car. Another option is the comune of Gallipoli (18km), which boasts both traditional attractions and modern amenities.
The weather in Nardo usually lives up to its Mediterranean climate status, with hot summers, warm spring and autumn seasons and mild winters. The period from May to late September is the driest, though this is also the busiest with both foreign and domestic tourists, so you may need to book your flights and Nardo accommodation well in advance for this time of the year.
Papola Casale Airport (BDS) is the nearest international airport to Nardo, being located 54km north in Brindisi. Ryanair offer the only UK flight to this destination, which departs on a daily basis from London Stansted. The nearest alternative airport is at Bari, but this will more than double your transfer time upon arrival.