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Savoring Salento

A journey through the southern most part of Puglia, experiencing the culture, nature and vibrant social life of a quite magical land.

Savoring Salento

The Salento, in the past known as the Land of Otranto, is a large expanse of predominantly hill-less terrain, home to a string of typically Mediterranean towns, the narrow lanes, shady porticoes, and little white houses of which, all built so as to resist the high summer temperatures and scorching southern Italian sun.

Lecce is the capital of Puglian Baroque. The main piazza, dedicated to the city's patron Saint, Oronzo, contains a magnificent copperplate statue of the saint perched on the column which rises up directly opposite the Palazzetto del Sedile, the old town hall where the Mayor used to receive the citizens of Lecce. The piazza was altered on various occasions in the early 20th century, when, by sheer chance, the remains of a Roman amphitheatre, dating back to the era of Augustus, were discovered beneath the square during the building of a new Banca d'Italia. Today, the piazza provides a spectacular venue for concerts and theatrical performances. In 1929 another important ancient roman edifice was discovered: a theatre complete with marble-clad stage and the remains of an ornate scaenae frons and statues, the latter now conserved in the Sigismondo Castromediano Archeological Museum.

From Lecce, we travel towards Maglie, through an area of the Salento known as Grecia Salentina and where the inhabitants still speak griko, an ancient language of Greek origin. Calimera, Carpignano Salentino, Castrignano dei Greci, Corigliano d'Otranto, Cutrofiano, Martano, Martignano, Melpignano, Soleto, Sternatia and Zollino are the names of the towns within the province of Lecce's area grika. Here, well-attended religious celebrations and traditional festivals abound, the most famous being that of the 'Notte della Taranta' held at Melpignano, towards the end of August each year.

Continuing towards the Adriatic coast, North of Otranto, we come to the Alimini Lakes. The Alimini Grande and Alimini Piccolo represent a magnificently rich ecosystem, home to a great variety of plant and animal species. Close to the Alimini lakes, there is a pine wood and the Baia dei Turchi which, according to legend, the Turks used as landing place prior to their devastating assault of Otranto.

Just South of Otranto, lies another of the Salento's most important tourist attractions. The Grotta dei Cervi is a karst cave, situated in the proximity of the port of Badisco, in which numerous articles dating back to prehistoric times have been found. The walls of the central gallery are adorned with an incredible number of primitive illustrations, in red ochre and black guano, thought to depict hunting and dancing scenes.

A great number of caves punctuate the indented coastline of Santa Maria di Leuca, caves such as the Grotta Tre Porte, where the traces of Neanderthal man have been found, and the Grotta dell'Elefante, where the bones and teeth of prehistoric pachyderms were discovered. Those looking for a dose of spine tingling summer entertainment should head for the beaches of Gagliano del Capo and the Ponte Ciolo, where to witness Puglia's you-tube generation of dare devil divers jumping in to the sea from the most staggering heights.


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Hotels in the area

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Palazzo Ducale Venturi

Minervino di Lecce

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Palazzo Guglielmo


From € 150.00

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Masseria Le Fabriche


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Tenuta Centoporte


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Palazzo Papaleo


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La Macchiola


From € 140.00

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Vivosa Apulia Resort


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Patria Palace


Useful links
Puglia (all hotels)
Santa Maria di Leuca Hotels
Nardò Hotels
Otranto Hotels
Lecce Hotels
Ugento Hotels