If you are about to come on holiday in Salento, below you will find some useful information and images of places to visit!
UGENTO AND NEAR COASTAL CITIES
The town of Ugento is located in the southernmost part of Salento, which also includes a long stretch of the Ionian coast. Due to its architectural, archaeological and cultural importance, it was recognized in 2008 by the Puglia Region as a city of art and of importance for the local touristic economy. The modern city rises on the ancient Messapian city of Ozan (Uxentum in Latin).
A place populated for thousands of years, it has a long millennial history behind it, always in the center of cultural and commercial relations of the Mediterranean: prehistoric archaeological findings such as dolmens and menhirs have been found in the territory along with the remains of the ancient Messapian walls. An absolute symbol of the city and its openness to external influences even in past eras, is the ancient bronze statue of Zeus stilita, a masterpiece of the Magno-Greek art, preserved today in the Archaeological Museum of Taranto.
Among the streets of the old town, we also meet the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, which, together with the Castle, built on the remains of the Roman “castro”, were the most important defenses of the city. Inside the Franciscan convent of “Santa Maria della Pietà” there is a Civic Museum of Archeology and Paleontology which hosts numerous finds discovered in the territory over the years. Also worthy of note is the presence of a necropolis, in use from the Archaic to the Hellenistic era, found in the locality of Sant’Antio: the visible part has brought to light thirty tombs and numerous archaeological finds of ceramics.
In the summertime, Ugento hosts on the streets of the center “La Notte della Pizzica”, an important event that pays tribute to the “Taranta”, which has become a symbol of international recognition of the Salento area.
Ugento extends to the Ionian coast with its 12 km of coastline and its marinas: Torre San Giovanni, Torre Mozza, and Lido Marini. The marine offer accommodation facilities of all kinds, bathing establishments, entertainment, but above all a beautiful sea and fine beaches and Caribbean landscapes.
Local folklore, millennial history, the beauty of the territory and the coast have brought the territory of Ugento to be one of the most sought-after destinations of Salento.
Lido Marini is one of the coastal cities of the municipality of Ugento, which is only 8 km away. Seaside resort located on the Ionian coast of the lower Salento, a few km from Torre San Giovanni and Santa Maria di Leuca.
It is one of the largest centers of the area known as “Capo di Leuca”; it is populated above all in summer when it touches the 35.000 inhabitants, it is the ideal place where to spend the holidays in tranquility, but still enjoying every kind of service and tourist attraction.
The marina is immersed in the “Capo di Leuca” greenhouses, an area where there is a dense concentration of Mediterranean scrub, olive trees, and citrus fruits. The crystalline sea, the golden sandy coasts that alternate with the low cliffs, the fabulous panorama of the “dried of Ugento”, areas where the seabed is kept particularly low even offshore, the vegetation dominated by the Mediterranean scrub and the olive trees, make the truly unique panorama.
Between the main square and the beach, we meet a small stone stele in Lecce dedicated to the “Sea Heroes”, who lost their lives trying to save boats in difficulty among the currents of the sea.
Torre Pali, together with Posto Vecchio and Pescoluse marina is an ionic marina in the municipality of Salve. Born as an ancient fishing village, it takes its name from the ancient sixteenth-century watchtower, which is currently immersed in the sea. A few meters from the coast the island of Fanciulla, around which the sea is particularly fishy and particularly rich in coral colonies. Along the entire stretch of coastline dominate the wide beaches in very small alternating, sometimes with low cliffs, easily accessible.
Blue Flag in 2009 for the clear sea, clean beaches and water sources, today has become a sought-after tourist resort that, in the summer period offers a wide choice of accommodation facilities, apartments close to the sea and services of all kinds. The town is located in the center of the major seaside resorts of Salento with Torre San Giovanni, Pescoluse (known as the Maldives of Salento), Torre Vado and Leuca.
TORRE SAN GIOVANNI
Torre San Giovanni extends for many miles along the Ionian coast of Salento to the North of Leuca and, together with Torre Mozza and Lido Marini, belongs to the territory of the city of Ugento, a municipality registered in the register of tourist resorts.
The story tells that Torre San Giovanni was built on the ruins of the ancient Roman port. Port activity is still important today; the port is well equipped, has an intense activity and is dominated by the searchlight, born on the old watchtower, built as a defense against Saracen invasions.
The landscape and the coast of Torre San Giovanni are very changeable: you go from wide and long beaches of white sand, with equipped beaches and refreshment points, which are often accessed through lush pine forests, rocky areas, with low and smooth cliffs that I allow easy access to the crystal clear sea (“Mare Verde” locality). Often a few meters from the coast there are many small islands, which can also be reached by swimming; the largest of these is called “Isola di Pazze”.
On the Annibale seafront the refreshment and commercial activities are more concentrated and here events, demonstrations, concerts, and festivals are held that animate the summer evenings until late at night.
In August it is held in honor of the celebrations of the “Madonna dell’Aiuto”, a characteristic procession in the sea with the statue of the Virgin, which sees the active participation of many faithful and in particular of the local fishermen.
Torre San Giovanni began to develop as an important tourist center in the early ’70s and precisely in these years are beginning to arise important accommodation facilities.
The city of Gallipoli (from the greek Kalé Polis or Città Bella) located on the Ionian coast of the Salento peninsula, is known as the “Pearl of the Ionian” for its historical beauty, artistic and cultural, and is one of the most populated cities of Salento.
Overlooking the Ionian Sea, it is divided into two parts: the old town, surrounded by city walls, stands on an island of calcareous origin, and the new village, of more recent construction, extends on a peninsula to the west. The two parts are connected by a seventeenth-century arched bridge.
The old town, rich in tradition, houses in its narrow streets and houses overlooking the sea, many churches, and monuments are a symbol of a strong religious cult among the inhabitants and the fishermen who lived there. Walking through the winding streets you can meet markets and shops that offer local products and local crafts. The Greek Fountain is one of the national heritage of the place, in fact it is the oldest fountain in Italy, and has the distinction of having been built on both sides in different eras.
Not to be forgotten are the colorful celebrations in honor of “Santa Cristina”, the patron saint of Gallipoli, which take place on July 24th, characterized by a highly anticipated fair of cattle, sweets and various goods; characteristic in these days also the Cuccagna at sea ceremony.
Gallipoli also has a strong fishing tradition; the port is crowded with old “paranza” ( particular kind of trawler), and here there is also a flourishing fish market.
A town that perfectly combines the cultural and bathing aspect of a holiday. Especially in the summer, discos, Beach bars, and concert parks leave no room for boredom, organizing events of all kinds and for all budgets. It has also hosted important cultural events over the years, among which the most striking is the Baroque Prize.
On the south coast of the city of Gallipoli is the beach of Baia Verde, a seaside resort and tourist that offers not only beaches with crystalline coasts and crystal clear waters, but also services and accommodation of all kinds, from equipped beaches, for lovers of nightlife and aperitifs at sunset, at the free beaches and the pinewood for lovers of relaxation.
A must for those who are on holiday in these areas is undoubtedly Punta Pizzo, south of Gallipoli, within the Regional Reserve of Sant’Andrea Island, established by regional law N. 20 of 10 July 2006. A landscape of uncontaminated nature, beaches and cliffs alternate surrounded by a thick Mediterranean scrub, inside the oasis you can not help but notice the “Torre del Pizzo” (formerly called Catriero) built for defensive purposes in 1569.
Inside the Natural Park there is also “Punta della Suina”, a rocky promontory on the sea, surrounded by an equipped beach and reachable through the pine forest.
Going further south to a few km from Gallipoli, you will find the towns of Mancaversa, Torre Suda, Capilungo, Mare Verde and Torre San Giovanni.
Mancaversa, is a marina in the city of Taviano which is about 8 km from Gallipoli; here the coast is mainly rocky but easily accessible to the sea and you can occasionally encounter small sandy inlets. Regarding the origin of the name, there are two theories: some think that the name derives from the dialectal translation of “left-handed side”, as in the past the Gallipoli fishermen called in this way the part of the coast that is on the left compared to Gallipoli. Others take into consideration the hypothesis that the name is the Italian translation of the dialect word Baccaversa, which literally means “revolved boat”.
The town is a very quiet place compared to crowded seaside resorts, so it is ideal for those who want to spend their holidays in total relaxation with friends and family; There is no shortage of accommodation facilities of all kinds, beach kiosks, restaurants, sports facilities, numerous events organized by the local administration during the summer: concerts, theatrical performances, fairs and festivals, gastronomic tastings of local products of Salento.
Torre Suda, the coastal city of the town of Racale, is located 9 km from Gallipoli and a few km from Torre San Giovanni. Special features of the place are the low and very white cliffs that make access to the sea particularly comfortable. The seabed is particularly limpid, fishy and rich in reefs and maritime flora, ideal for those wishing to practice diving. Do not overlook the dense Mediterranean scrub that in many areas extends to the coast. The marina takes its name from the ancient circular coastal tower, built as a watchtower over the sea during the Turkish invasions; after the military functions became a water tank for the inhabitants of the place: the name derives from the fact that the tower, because of the transpiration, seemed to “sweat”.
Torre Suda is the ideal place to spend a holiday of relaxation and nature, but at the same time for those who want to participate in events and learn about the local traditions of the place. Every year, in fact, the municipal administration proposes a full calendar of events that take place mainly in the large tower: concerts, exhibitions, festivals, theatrical events, sporting events and events reserved for children. The marina has all the comforts: equipped supermarkets, first aid, wi-fi area, restaurants, pharmacy, equipped sports facilities, equipped beaches, bars, and nightclubs.
A curiosity of the place is the event that takes place after mid-August, in honor of the celebrations of “B.V. Maria Stella del mare”, and which involves many locals and tourists: the traditional “Cuccagna a mare”, an event that takes place every year in the Canal of the Fox.
CAPILUNGO and POSTO ROSSO
The marinas are two hamlets of the municipality of Alliste. We can say that they are located in a strategic geographical position, as close to the major centers and beaches of Gallipoli and Torre San Giovanni.
Here the coast is rocky but easily accessible; In some stretches of low and flat cliffs alternate precipices that fall to the sea (Punta del Diavolo) or small inlets. Recently, a long pedestrian path by the sea allows long walks on foot or by bicycle, among plants and flowers of the Mediterranean scrub. These coastal cities are mainly inhabited in the summer months, when they are crowded with tourists and locals, who choose these places to spend their holidays in complete tranquility, away from the confusion of the city and the crowded Salento “movida”.
CITIES AND PLACES OF PARTICULAR INTEREST.
Lecce is the capital of the Salento peninsula and is also the largest cultural, architectural and artistic center of importance. When talking about Lecce, one can not help but think of the Baroque architecture that characterizes most of the churches and monuments that are located in the historic center. Due to the majesty and the particularity of these decorations, the city holds the record of Baroque architecture in Italy, and for this reason, it has also been nicknamed “Florence of the South”.
The city boasts a long tradition of craftsmanship; in particular, walking through the streets of the historic center you can meet many artisan shops of masters of ceramics and paper-mâché; it is important to remember also the processing of Lecce stone, used above all to decorate and cover buildings, portals, terraces and balconies of private homes, but also for small ornamental objects.
Lecce is a candidate for “European Capital of Culture 2019”.
Basilica di Santa Croce
It is undoubtedly the highest expression of Leccese Baroque architecture. Built between 1549 and 1695, it leaves the visitor enchanted: the façade is full of symbols and decorations in full Baroque style that blend harmoniously with Romanesque elements; inside the basilica it is possible to visit the altar of San Francesco da Paola, rich in inlays and decorations in Baroque style, representing in twelve steps the life of the saint. Next to the Basilica of Santa Croce, the “Palazzo dei Celestini”, a rare example of a soberer Baroque style; once the seat of the Celestine convent, it currently houses the offices of the Prefecture
Duomo di Maria Santissima Assunta
It is located in the heart of the city, in the homonymous square where you can also find the bell tower and the Palaces of the bishopric and the Seminary, and is the cathedral of Lecce. The main facade is very linear compared to the secondary embellished with decorations in full Baroque style.
Castello Carlo V
Built in the year 1539 by the will of King Charles V, it did not only perform defensive functions, but one of its rooms was also used to host theatrical events. Today it hosts events and cultural events.
Porte della città vecchia :
The three gates of Lecce were the ancient accesses to what we now call the old city or historical center. Recently renovated, Porta Napoli, or Arco di Trionfo, is the oldest gate in Lecce and was built in honor of the emperor Charles V. Porta Rudiae is located on the eastern side of the ancient walls and from here the road to the city of Rudiae started; what we see today is a reconstruction of the original door, collapsed at the end of the seventeenth century and rebuilt by a wealthy patrician gentleman of the area. Porta San Biagio, in baroque style, was built on behalf of the governor of Terra d’Otranto in 1700; it is located in the south-east part of the city and was built to join the old part of the city to the new part.
Anfiteatro e Teatro Romano
Testimony of the Roman period, the Amphitheater came to light in 1900, during the renovation of the Bank of Italy Palace, is located in the central Piazza Sant’Oronzo. Currently, only the arena remains visible, a part of the external walls and the steps. From the same era also the Roman Theater, smaller than the first, probably reserved for the “lupiensis”.
The main square of Lecce is dedicated to the patron saint of the city, depicted, in the act of blessing the city, from the statue that stands on the column in the middle of the square. At the center of the square, the mosaic floor depicts the emblem of the city. Here you can also admire the ancient “Palazzo del Sedile”, recently renovated; former seat of the town hall, today it hosts exhibitions, events and exhibitions.
It is located a few meters from Porta Napoli, was built in honor of Ferdinand of Bourbon in 1822. On all four sides is decorated in bas-relief and below depicts a dolphin biting the Turkish crescent, the symbol of the lands of Otranto.
Santa Maria di Leuca is a fraction of the small town of Castrignano del Capo. Known as the extreme southermost city of Italy or “Punta del Tacco d’Italia”, Leuca is enclosed in a natural gulf between Punta Ristola and Punta Meliso. Punta Ristola is the highest point of the city where the lighthouse and the “Basilica della Madonna De Finibus Terrae” are located where it is narrated that St. Peter the Apostle made a stop during his journey to reach Rome. Punta Meliso instead represents the lower part of the city, where the marina of Leuca develops. At at this point a nautical convention marked the point of separation between the waters of the Ionian Sea and those of the Adriatic.
A long staircase of 284 steps connects the Basilica, therefore the highest part of the city, to the port, important for its intense tourist and commercial activity. Here we also find the mouth of the Apulian Aqueduct that ends its run in the sea.
Leuca is known above all for the presence of numerous villas and its gardens; built for the most part in the last century; Some of them are now in disuse but most of them retain their original appearance; in some periods of the year these buildings are opened to the public.
The Lungomare Cristoforo Colombo, which runs from the Lega Navale to the Torre dell’Omomorto, offers a suggestive walk on the sea; it has been used throughout its history for different functions: it has been a place for war events, natural disasters, sporting events, bureaucratic acts, commercial uses.
In the territory of Leuca there are also numerous caves of karst origin; among the Caves of Rada we find the Grotta del Diavolo, the cave Porcinara, caves of Moriggio, Grotte Cazzafri; Among the caves of Ponente, we find the Stalla cave, the grotto of the Presepe, the cave of the Drago, the cave of the Giants and the Grotta delle Tre Porte; among the famous Levante caves are: Grotte di Terradico, Grotta di orto sombre, Grotta delle Vore, Grotte del Ciolo.
The village of Castro stands on a cliff overlooking the Adriatic Sea, in the Serre Salentine area. The historic center, of medieval origin, stands on the highest part of the city and is surrounded by walls, now visible only in parts, reinforced by the Aragonese Castle and by some watchtowers (Torre Catalano). Currently, the castle rooms host archaeological exhibitions, events and conferences.
Crossing Porta Terra, which is currently only the name, you enter the historic center of Castro; here we find the Church of the Annunciation, today also the bishop’s seat of the diocese, the remains of the Byzantine Basilica
On the lower part stands Castro Marina, developed around the Port, of particular tourist importance but above all commercial and fishing.
The area is known above all for the presence of numerous caves on the sea; the limestone rocks that make up the territory, through the erosion caused by the water create suggestive images.
At the foot of the steep cliff of Castro, stands the “Grotta della Zinzulusa”, discovered in 1793. The cave takes its name from the “zinzuli”, limestone formations hanging from the ceiling. It is also important to remember Grotta Romanelli, near the Grotta Zinzulusa, known as the first Italian cave to have returned remains of parietal art dating back to the Paleolithic.
Castro was awarded the 2012 Blue Flag by the Foundation for Environmental Education.
The celebration of the Feast of the Madonna dell’Annunziata, in honor of which the pyrotechnic competition is held, the “fish festival” concerts and performances by artists, as well as the re-enactment of games in medieval costume with the procession of the simulacrum along the streets of the village; at the end the Palio dell’Annunziata takes place, in which the various districts vie for the votive candle dedicated to the Patron Saint.
In 2006, in this territory, the Costa Otranto – Santa Maria di Leuca and Tricase woods were established by the Puglia Region.