Salento, the southernmost province of Italy’s heel, starts (roughly; there are differences of opinion!) where the hills of the Valle d’Itria finish. From there, the land expands into a long, flat tongue that laps both the Adriatic and the Ionian seas.
Some of Italy’s most charming towns and cities can be found in Salento: the seafront walled treasures of Gallipoli and Otranto, the creamy baroque elegance of Lecce, and the opulent seaside Liberty joys of Leuca.
Here are some places we recommend visiting in Salento:
Lecce is the highlight of the Salento peninsula. One of Puglia’s must-see locations is this breathtakingly attractive city, which is frequently referred to as the “Florence of the South.” Lecce is mostly recognized as a Baroque city because of the numerous Baroque structures that can be found here. St. Mary of Providence, the breathtaking Addolorata Square, and the Basilica of the Saint Cross are just a few of the many churches and squares it has to offer. Lecce stone, also known as pietra leccese, was used to build many of the structures in the ancient town, making it one of the city’s most prominent features. Additionally, Lecce is also undoubtedly a place to indulge in some mouth-watering regional specialties, such the “rustico leccese.”
Otranto is located atop a rock formation that descends to the sea in the Salento peninsula. The village is surrounded by Aragonese walls, where you may stroll down distinctive stone streets and see the Romanesque Cathedral with its Renaissance rose window. Don’t overlook the Castle, which was erected at Alfonso d’Aragona’s quest at the end of the 15th century. Visit Grotta dei Cervi and the Punta Palasca lighthouse, which are located outside the city limits.
Gallipoli is a seaside community is split into two sections: the new village, which is connected to the island by a bridge, and the old Town, which is perched on a limestone island along the Salento coast. The Fontana Greca, a Renaissance-era structure, the Cathedral of Sant’Agata, one of Salento’s finest Baroque structures, and the Church of Santa Maria della Purità, which features a stunning majolica floor, can all be found in the town’s historic center. The Gallipoli Castle, together with its Torre del Rivellino, is a defensive fortress that is a part of the ancient town.
Santa Maria di Leuca
Tourists adore Leuca this well-known coastal location in Salento’s southernmost region. White cliffs and natural caverns make up the rugged coastline. The Basilica of Santa Maria de Finibus Terrae is located right at the foot of a stunning white lighthouse that looks out over the harbor. You may find several opulent homes in the liberty style and aristocratic buildings along the seafront. You can also visit the Apulian Aqueduct’s last section, which has an amazing waterfall.m
When in Leuca, be sure to visit Punta Meliso. It is the second southern end of Puglia. Being one of the two boundary points of the Gulf of Taranto, its reference point is the iconic lighthouse. At the lighthouse’s base sits the Basilica of Santa Maria de Finibus Terrae. The historic Apulian Aqueduct also ends here.
Experience the little seaside town of Porto Cesareo, famous for the delicious Pasticciotto. A natural preserve, a marine protected area rich in flora and fauna with highly rare species. The distinctive coral formations, turtles, sea horses, and other aquatic species can all be seen during underwater trips.
Visit Galatina, located half an hour to the north-east. It’s the region’s third most populous town and is home to one of Italy’s most visited basilicas, the Gothic-Romanesque Church of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria.
Tour the church to see the vibrant artwork and frescoes that decorate the walls, then stroll around the old town to see the Clock Tower, the Palazzo del Sedile, and the antique city gates.
Classic Puglia can design you a tour around your tastes and preferences. Get in touch with our Puglia travel experts to start planning. Visit our tours page to view our predesigned Puglia itineraries.