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By Valentina Ciamponi

Salento is a land that I love deeply, for the uninitiated it is located in the far south of the Puglia region. It’s beaches are both rocky and sandy, with seas of ​​an intense blue colour to envy the Caribbean. Tourism is not only Italian, but thanks to the nearby airports it can be reached from all over the world. I always recommend taking a rental car so that you can move independently to discover this peninsula from east to west.

Salento is one of my favorite destinations for the summer. The temperature is very high, very few rains and a dry heat that makes you want to enjoy beach life. It is a fabulous land, rich in traditions, excellent food and welcoming people. I consider it an ideal destination both for families with children, groups, or younger couples because it offers various things to do, and everyone can enjoy their holiday as they see fit.

In the suitcase never forget bikinis, slippers, fins and a snorkel. Salento offers a rich hinterland to be discovered, with experiencing the different beaches alongside the discovery of stunning towns and cities, this is a one magical activity to keep you entertained.

The food is excellent, wherever you go you can’t go wrong. Starting from breakfast in the most famous patisserie chain named Martinucci, to dinner in the various fish, meat or pizza restaurants anywhere on the coast. The best for us were the Mangiamare in Leuca, the Tatanka in Castrignano del Capo and the Antica Pietra Filosofale in Presicce. The typical specialties, in addition to the famous orecchiette are the frisa, the puccia, and pasticciottio, the latter is my typically breakfast for every morning of my holiday with the ice coffee and the almond milk.

During the summer it’s easy to participate in village festivals, where between pizzica, the typical dance and demonstrations of artisans who create straw bags and cooks who knead the orecchiette by hand, you always learn something about this fabulous land. The Christmas-style lights decorate and illuminate the streets with their impressive and colorful lights.

Santa Maria di Leuca is the southernmost point of Italy overlooking two seas, the Ionian and the Adriatic. Supplying a monumental waterfall which is however only lit a few days a month and connects the upper part of the town to the coast, from the lighthouse and the basilica to the rock on the sea. In summer, stalls of handicraft products animate the promenade with typical products of the Salento tradition.

Leuca is also the most suitable point for me to dive, because you can move between the Adriatic caves or visit the wreck in the Ionian Sea. For those who do not like diving, it is possible to rent inflatables for the tour of the coast or navigate with motorboats or boats with organized tours tell the stories of the caves, describe their depth and explain the bizarre names they have.

The big cities to visit are Lecce and Otranto. Lecce is a typically Baroque city, its buildings date back to the 17th century and are all built in Lecce stone. Walking in this city it is nice to get lost in its streets, all monochromatic. Here you can visit the Roman amphitheater, the basilica of Santa Croce and its bell tower from the 1600s and the cathedral.

Otranto, on the other hand, is the easternmost city in Italy, overlooking the sea. I remember it as a very windy city, the walk along the promenade is beautiful. The Aragonese castle stands imposingly, of course it can be visited by paying an entrance ticket, I recommend visiting its cathedral.

The beaches that I preferred are Porto Cesareo, with its Punta Prosciutto, a beach of clear and coarse sand, blue water, suitable for children, well equipped and served with umbrellas, restaurants and bars and ample parking for cars. Torre dell’orso is located in the Melendugno area. Its beach is explained as a crescent between two cliffs. Off the coast, the two famous white stacks, the Two Sisters, are scrutinized; in the caves you can admire the remains of graffiti in Latin and Greek testifying to the ancient sailors.

Baia di Marina serra it is a natural swimming pool, created from the erosion of the sea on the rock, it is particularly suitable for children who can learn to swim or for the most reckless who can dive from the rocks overlooking the sea.

Specchia and Presicce are two towns located in the hinterland, here you can visit the underground oil mills, or structures built under the ground to ensure a constant temperature throughout the period of stay. People actually lived there day and night, for the extraction of the lampante oil from the olives through the mills. The visit of these structures leaves much to reflection, people who devoted whole months of their lives, losing their sight, getting used to the dark, living with animals and sleeping, eating and doing everything related to daily life in the same place. The reward for this sacrifice, when one did not die or went out with a disease of the sight, skin, lungs, were large grounds with olive trees.

Gallipoli is a Renaissance city overlooking the Ionian sea. This is where the lamp oil trade started, which in addition to fueling the spread of city lights, also served for the production of Marseille soap. I definitely recommend visiting the castle overlooking the sea.

In the Castro area, you cannot miss the Zinzulusa cave, which is accessed directly from a path carved out of the rock, directly onto the sea. Their visit is breathtaking.

From Salento other cities are easily reachable by car: Alberobello without any doubts deserves a day to visit. The city is full of trulli, cylindrical in shape with high cone-shaped roofs, many of which can be visited inside, others transformed into shops.

Ostuni is called the white city, precisely because its characteristic historical center, both now and in the past, was entirely painted with white lime. The caves of Castellana are a complex of 3 km long underground cavities of karst origin, which intrigued us a lot.

Salento is a land that steals the heart, unfortunately sometimes overlooked but which certainly deserves to be visited, lived, discovered and valued to the maximum.

As you can see in the picture located under, Lorca said that the South is a golden arrow with no target in the wind.

Valentina Ciamponi

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