Cannizzi Garden –S. Giovanni al Sepolcro Botanical Garden

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)

This is a small, delightful public area in Brindisi, set between the walls of the historic city centre and some new buildings.

Opened in 2017, thanks to a project by Giovanni Nardelli, a landscape agronomist of the Public Green Office of the Municipality and the Vice President of the Italian Association of Technical Directors, this small park was built on some 598 square yards of uncultivated land and following the demolition of some ancient “cannizzo” houses, typical city buildings.

On the old boundary walls and on the ones of the small remaining residences, there are still rings made of “carparo” (“limestone”), used to tie workhorses. As a further testament to its ancient past, visitors can still perceive the peculiar arrangement of humble abodes and domestic gardens, two ancient wells from different historical periods, some public seatings and several ancient stones.

The Roman actor Ubaldo Lay, celebrated nationwide for portraying Lieutenant Sheridan in a famous TV series, fell in love with this place in the 1960s: he used to live in Mesagne, where he married Olga Bogaro, but knew Brindisi very well and had many friends there. One day, behind the small deconsecrated church, he discovered an uncultivated garden, after the demolition of some ancient “cannizzo” houses, and decided to buy it. He did not do anything else and soon new residences and palaces rose up around his property, eventually becoming a local residents’ green facility.
On Lay’s death in 1984, that wonderful place was abandoned for thirty years. Luckily, few years ago, his heirs sold it out to the Municipality of Brindisi.
In 2017, the park was eventually restored. Its reclamation and redesign have safeguarded the original “soul” of this place ever since, rediscovering the signs of the past and inserting a vegetable garden with many aromatic herbs (including a collection of mint); the garden also includes wild plants from Brindisi traditions (cultivated and irrigated according to ancient techniques aimed at saving water), as well as ornamental and historical flowers like a small rose garden of 30 Hybrid Tea plants, a hedge of Floribunda roses, small flowerbeds of pelargonium, agapanthus, lantanas, lavender, bird of paradise flowers, a border of jasmine, Plumbago auricolata and a carpet of common verbena.
The result is an enchanted and very delicate garden, which looks private but is actually open to the public.

Not to miss:

The wonderful “Tempietto del Santo Sepolcro” is a small deconsecrated church rich in layered historical artefacts and fragments of beautiful frescoes. The church is believed to have been built by Bohemond I, prior to his departure for the Holy Land in 1096, and was probably the city’s primitive Christian baptistery.
The building still features its almost complete circular layout, with a diameter of almost 62 ft.
The excavations carried out between 1993 and 1995 brought to light the remains of a Roman domus of the Imperial Age (I – II century AD).

The fragments of the frescoes on the walls were probably painted between the first half of the XIII and XIV centuries: they feature some layers ascribable to the Byzantine tradition and some others layers attributable to the Serbian style.

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)


Piazza del Tempietto del Santo Sepolcro - Brindisi(BR)

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