Salento: from Porto Cesareo to Pescoluse
Here I am, back from a holiday to Salento where the sweet scent of the sea accompanied my days. A land kissed by the sun, graced by beaches of such beauty to rival the most famous in the world. You cannot travel to Salento and remain unfazed by its crystalline waters.
I spent there 3 days on a yacht just outside of Porto Cesareo, a very pleasant town despite the tourist crowds. The heavenly beaches and quiet soothed my chaotic nature and provided an opportunity for self-flection. After this wonderful experience, I spent 3 more days in Pescoluse, whose beaches are known as the ‘Maldives of Salento’.
I got back excited to tell you all about the beauty of Salento, a land that always leaves wanting for more.
Tag along then! In this article, I’ll focus on some interesting aspects that I hope will interest you. I am sure that at the end of this article you’ll pack your bikini, ready to leave for Puglia! 🙂
THE LAND OF SALENTO
If Italy is shaped like a boot, then Salento is the heel.
This area comprises of 3 towns: Taranto, Brindisi and Lecce. Unofficially, however, Salento means the whole lower part of the heel and also the part that goes from Punta Prosciutto / Casalabate to Santa Maria di Leuca. (You’ll never find, however, someone from either Taranto or Ostuni who’ll agree with this statement 🙂)
For this reason, the term ‘Grande Salento’ (Greater Salento) has become more popular and it includes the portion to the west of Taranto too. This area, despite not having the same landscape features that make Salento famous, is, however, an essential part of the local jurisdiction.
Many Apulian tour guides assert that “food, hospitality and culture are almost identical in the Apulian provinces”.
I’m originally from Bari and strongly disagree! One thing is certain: wherever you’re in Puglia, the food will be delicious, but you’ll find many different dishes in each province. Nothing new under the sun though, the same happens anywhere in Italy, from North to South.
The best-known dishes are broad beans and chicory, ciceri and fria, pucce, rape ‘nfucate, sangne’ ncannulate, mashed white beans and the famous sweets pasticciotti leccesi.
SALENTO’S MOST BEAUTIFUL TOWNS
In this section, I have chosen to briefly sum up what makes each of these towns special. Of course, this is based on my personal opinion entirely.
LECCE: a vibrant baroque town, with a lively nightlife and home to the famous Salento music festival. Its beauty and essence can’t be summed up in just a few lines, but trust me on this – you absolutely must visit it!
PORTO CESAREO: a small seaside town that is taken over by tourists in Summer. A night out here assures fun for all ages.
NARDÒ: the old town and its baroque charm find full expression in Piazza Salandra, joined by the numerous churches you’ll find here.
SANTA MARIA AL BAGNO: a splendid marina, very close to Nardò. Initially a commercial harbor, over time it became famous for the undisputed beauty of its beaches, attracting tourists who love sand and wild nature. Woods, pine forests and slopes alternate on the coast.
GALATINA: a picturesque village only 20km from Lecce. For those who love culture, this town is an open-air museum.
SAN FOCA: if you’re looking for crystalline, turquoise waters, this is the place. The beautiful coast of San Foca is used on many promotional materials for the Salento region. A short distance from San Foca is Cavallino, where you can admire ruins from ancient civilizations.
OTRANTO: this town needs no introduction. Turquoise waters, history and art make it a must-stop for anyone who comes to Salento.
GALLIPOLI: it’s called “the pearl of the Ionian Sea” with its blue sea and a hidden gem, the protected area of “Punta Pizzo” that not many know. Its wild beauty extends for over 700 hectares.
UGENTO: there’s more to this town than its beaches. From a Messapian necropolis and a fascinating crypt to the Madonna del Casale and a stone village.
PESCOLUSE: taking a dive here it’s like swimming in a pool. Tourists come from all over the world to bring home a memory of the ‘Maldives of Salento’!
SANTA MARIA DI LEUCA: known to be the ‘de finibus terrae’, or the land’s end. This town represents the southernmost point in Italy and many affirm that you can see the two seas meet (the Adriatic and the Ionian).