Itinerary: Salento, Lecce, Otranto, Santa Maria di Leuca, Gallipoli
Discover Italy's heel between the two turquoise seas, the beautiful region of Salento in Puglia with twisted olive trees
Salento, also known as the Heel of Italy, is a vast plain in Puglia, stretching from Lecce to Capo Santa Maria di Leuca. This area benefits from a vantage location beeing between the west coast with sandy beaches kissed by the Ionian Sea, and the rocky and wild coast of the Adriatic Sea.
The typically red soil of Salento is very suitable for agriculture and it is mainly cultivated with olive trees. In fact, the 8% of the world's olive oil production comes from this area. You will see everywhere these beautiful olive trees with their huge twisted trunks.
When here, you will notice some typical features of this region such as the small dry-stone walls, called "Pariti", whose primary task is to define the properties. They are also used to protect the crops from wind and sea salt.
You can also see remnants of rural stone houses called "Masserie", testimonies of past lifestyles. The Masserie used to serve as a house for the farmers at harvest time, and they served as a storage for tools during the rest of the year. Now, many of the "Masserie" have been turned into wonderful Rural Hotels, called "Agriturismo" where tourists can live just close to nature and some animals (for the joy of the kids) and taste homemade genuine food among the many local products.
White-sand beaches and rocks overlooking the sea follow each others along the coast, spotted by secluded bays and small fishing villages located right on the beach or perched on small cliffs. The road that connects Lecce to Otranto, Santa Maria di Leuca and Gallipoli offers beautiful, unique views every time you turn a bend. You can also enjoy the crystal-clear turquoise sea, just as beautiful as that around the Seychelles Islands, staircases carved into the rock to access the cozy beaches or admire the small white houses and the big pink palaces.
Some cities have preserved their maze of winding and shady streets. The old town of Gallipoli is one of them. It is a very nice city that was built on a promontory. The houses are painted in bright color while the balconies and the flat roofs are full of flowering plants. Often, the doors of the houses are open on an inner courtyard with a table and some chairs in the shade of a few potted plants.
Places of interest to visit during this trip:
Torre Sant'Andrea: the turquoise sea (pic n°1); In Lecce: The Celestine Palace and Basilica of Santa Croce (pic n°2); The Roman Amphitheater (pic n°3); Otranto: The view of the city (pic n°4); Santa Maria di Leuca: the wonderful coastline (pic n°5); Gallipoli: the view of the city (pic n°6)