A visit to Salento (Italy)
Salento is an area in the south of Italy that includes the provinces of Lecce, Taranto and Brindisi. It makes up a third of the region known as Puglia.
This is the peninsula also known as the heel Italy. It is surrounded by the Adriatic, Ionian and Mediterranean seas which create a variety of breathtaking landscapes.
Tourists who visit Salento are attracted to the sea and beautiful Lecce, the administrative center of the Baroque baroque, as well as the stunning architecture. San Cataldo is the closest place to reach the ocean.
This is the old town that was so successful in the 1960s. However, most locals are now just passing judgment on it, despite its beautiful beaches and clear waters where my father used to take me fishing when I was a kid.
Cesine Natural Reserve
We will begin our journey on the coast road SP366, heading south, from San Cataldo. The natural reserve of Cuisine is located just outside San Cataldo. It’s a reclaimed swampland that hosts a variety of fauna and flora species. SP366 runs alongside Cuisine, and it is so beautiful to be surrounded with the pines and olive trees that make up this territory.
Torre Specchia is the first town after Cesine. This is a popular surfing spot due to its strong exposure to wind.
You can relax on the small, but a friendly beach. There are bars and kiosks that will help you. They also offer one of Salento’s most popular summer dishes, frisa. This is a kind of toasted bread with fresh tomatoes. It’s refreshingly cool on hot August days, and so unlike the northern Italian cooking traditions.
Continue our southward journey to reach San Foca. The minuscule coves on the north side San Foca are characterized by clear waters and silvery-sands.
This large, irregularly shaped square hosts bars, restaurants and hotels. Sometimes, a market serves as a bridge between the big harbour and the heart of the little town, where some historic shops still exist.
It is possible to rent a boat in San Foca to reach beautiful coves that are not accessible by foot. These coves are located mostly in Roca or Torre dell’Orso.
Cave of the Poetry
Roca is only 2 minutes from San Foca. It boasts one the most beautiful natural beauty of Salento, Grotta Dilla Poesia. This can be translated to c ave de the poetry.
The crack in the rocks opens up to a vast expanse of water where many boys and girls dive. The stairs in the rocks make it possible to swim into this amazing cave even if you are not very prudent.
Roca is, probably, the site where Aeneas landed on Virgil’s Aeneid. It was also a pirate harbor at the beginning of the 15th century. You can still walk among the remains of an ancient Roman city today.
Just a few feet divide Roca and Torre dell’Orso. Torre dell’Orso is a stunning sight. It has a large beach, surrounded by pine groves and rocks. The best is yet to come.
You can park your car or bike near Dentoni, Torre dell’Orso’s historical patisserie. Here you will enjoy a classic cafe con latte di Mandorla (iced coffee infused with almond syrup) as well as a warm pasticcio, a traditional dessert made from a shortcrust shell filled with custard. Take a deep breath, and you’re ready to explore this stunning coast.
The romantic atmosphere created by the Torre dell’Orso Two Sisters rock at sunrise is a result of the Torre dell’Orso rocks. Fabio Viola, photo
Blue Flag Beach
You can find the beach right in front of the bakery. It has a golden sand beach and stunningly clear water. The European Blue Flag is a sign of high quality standards.
To reach the other side of the bay, leave the tower behind and walk along the shore. Soon you will see two stacks, known as due sorelle (the sisters), which are the symbols of Torre dell’Orso. These two sisters make a great spot for a quick canoe trip, or even a swim.
The best way to see these famous stacks is from their top. Look for the trail that climbs up the cliffs and prepare to be amazed. These sisters are also a great place to see the sunrise over Adriatic Sea.
You should spend an evening in Torre dell’Orso by visiting the Giardini del sole park, which offers rides, bars and restaurants, as well as a warm and merry environment.
Otranto is a great place to dive into history if a beautiful sea isn’t enough. This town is filled with mystery and history, which I love.
You can enter the Old Town from Porta Alfonsina (the Alfonsina Gate), and then you will find the charming artisan shops and beautiful sights on many streets.
The Castle of Otranto
The bastions which dominate Otranto’s bay are worth a visit. The old Aragonese castle that hosts the old town was also the setting for Horace Walpole’s first gothic novel ” TheC astle Otranto“. Otranto’s cathedral is also worth a visit. It features a huge mosaic depicting the tree of Life.
The Byzantine era is evident in the crypt’s evocative beauty. This church also houses 800 victims of the 15th-century bloody Turkish invasion. These are only a few of the many stunning Italian coast towns.
Two of Salento’s most striking places are the Punta Palascia and the Bauxite Quarry, both just outside Otranto.
First, a quarry used to extract bauxite (a mineral used to make aluminum), but it was abandoned in the 1970s. It has been filled with rain over the years, creating a surreal atmosphere of bright colors and green water.
Punta Palascia is Italy’s easternmost territory. It looks at first glance desolate. But don’t let that fool you.
You can park your car near the military zone, and then walk down the cliffs to see the lighthouse. The smells of many natural plants that grow on these rocks will capture your attention. Myrtle, oregano, and sage are just a few examples.
This is the end our journey – 60 km (37 mi) in the stunning Salento, surrounded by nature, history, and delicious food. This is something I found or rediscovered many years after moving to the north.
This warm atmosphere is what I now take advantage of on long weekends. Every friend that I bring along is sad to go at the end.
- Salento Travel Guide: https://www.visitsalento.com/
- The official Puglia Region tourism portal: https://www.viaggiareinpuglia.it/ter/PE11/en/Salento