Itinerary: Salento, Lecce, Otranto, Santa Maria di Leuca, Gallipoli
Salento, the heel of Italy, the beautiful area in Puglia
, 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 since it is located between the west coast with sandy beaches kissed by the Ionian Sea, and the rocky and wilder coast of the Adriatic Sea.
White-sand beaches and rocks overlooking the sea follow each other 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 or the Caribbean islands, (this is why the Salento beaches are also called the Italian Maldives), staircases carved into the rock to access the cozy beaches or admire the small white houses and the big pink palaces.
On this tour, beyond the beautiful beaches, you can also visit the main cities of Salento:
- the beautiful Baroque style Lecce
, the pearl by the Adriatic Sea
- Santa Maria di Leuca
: it is located on the southernmost tip of Puglia, exactly on the "heel", where the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea meet. It is a famous tourist destination thanks to the beauty of its beaches and the crystal clear waters. The jagged coastline features several caves and grottoes, some of them can be reached by hiking others only by sea. Many archaeological finds have been found in these caves testifying the presence of man since the Paleolithic. The city is also famous for its many beautiful 19th-century villas. We also suggest visiting the Basilica of Santa Maria de Finibus terrae, and Church of Christ the King.
- Gallipoli means history, culture, arts and beautiful seaside and beaches. It is an ancient city where over the centuries many conquerors passed from the Romans, Barbarians, Byzantines, Greeks, Normans to many others. It has two nicknames: the "Beautiful city" and the "Pearl of the Ionian Sea". Its Carnival is also renowned. Absolutely do not miss a visit to the old town of the city built on a promontory! It has preserved its maze of winding and shady streets. 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.
In Salento, 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 these "Masserie" have been turned into charming Rural Hotels, called "Agriturismo" in Italian, where tourists can live close to nature and some animals (for the joy of the kids) and taste homemade genuine food among the many local products.
The typical red soil of Salento is very suitable for agriculture and it is mainly cultivated with olive trees. In fact, 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.
Another typical feature of this region is 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.
Today, Salento is a very appreciated tourists destination and not only: many wealthy international people started to buy houses or villas here because of the amazing beaches and the clear waters and also because this still untouched beauty is much closer than the known tropical paradises.
Length: Km 216
Some pictures of this sunny Salento tour:
Torre Sant'Andrea: the turquoise sea (pic n°1); Beautiful sea waters (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); A Maldivian style beach in Salento (pic middle);