Salento - beaches and surroundings
Santa Cesarea Terme
With its cliffs overlooking the sea, caves and thermal waters, Santa Cesarea Terme is lapped by a sea with a seabed that immediately shelves deeply along the entire stretch of the coast. Public and private steps and paths cut through the rock and lead down to the sea. The descent known as the “Piscine” takes you along the edges of some wonderful natural rugged pools hewn out of old quarries. The picturesque landscape has been formed by stone excavation activities along the coast, where clear signs of cuts in the rock can be seen.
There is also a real pool built just a few metres from the shoreline: calm and quite shallow, the water is deep shades of transparent turquoise. Don’t miss bathing in the sulphurous pool situated next to the thermal spa. Fetida, Sulfurea, Gattula and Solfatara are the four caves, renowned for their therapeutic properties, from which water flows at a temperature of 30°C.
Whether you prefer the sandy coast or diving from the cliffs, the Andrano coast, just 20 minutes by car from Santa Cesarea Terme, is particularly appreciated for the still rugged and almost unspoilt nature of its landscape.
This stretch of coast is enhanced with the presence of many bays, inlets, ravines, indentations and overhanging rocks and, above all, caves. In the Salento peninsula, one of the caves most worth a visit is certainly the Grotta Verde in Marina di Andrano.
This enchanting cave is situated at the entrance to the Marina di Andrano coastal area. It can be reached by going along the coastal road towards Tricase Porto, near the locality known as “La Botte”. A descending path will lead you easily down to a rocky surface with its uneven shape, which, however, does not discourage bathers from sunbathing.
When we mention Castro, the coastline immediately springs to mind, with its caves of immense importance, formed by karst processes in the area. One of the most outstanding of these is the amazing Grotta della Zinzulusa, about 150 metres long and embellished with many stalactites and stalagmites. Other noteworthy caves are the Grotta Romanelli and Grotta Palombara.
Those who visit this particularly rocky stretch of coast, full of inlets and ravines, will be fascinated by the sea with its unique hues and by the beautiful crystal clear water, a paradise for divers.
The Adriatic Coast is full of surprises and incredible natural scenery. Leaving Otranto and heading northwards, after just 7 kilometres, you get to the Baia dei Turchi: a corner of paradise that resembles the Caribbean. A dense pine forest, crossed by wandering along short rough paths, leads visitors for a few minutes before leaving them enthralledby the sight ahead of them: an inlet featuring a strip of pure white clean sand and a flat sea in a thousand shades of blue. Continuing northwards, 15 kilometres from Otranto, you get to Torre Sant’Andrea.
The special features of this place are undoubtedly its stacks, gigantic masses of rock that emerge from the sea, acquiring particular shapes, eroded and carved by the wind.
A similar landscape can be found immediately afterwards, in the renowned resort of Torre dell’Orso, where the sharply indented coast gives rise to a wide bay that resembles a Caribbean beach, almost magical. The bay with its golden sand is equipped for bathers, guaranteeing them all the comforts required to enjoy a quiet day by the sea.
Heading from the town of martyrs towards Santa Maria di Leuca, we immediately find another wonder: the Baia di Orte. This bay is still unspoilt, with its wild nature and amazing beauty, just 4 kilometres from the town of Otranto. Mediterranean maquis shrubland, wild cliffs, a gentle descent to the sea, a spectacular view and the priceless emotion of enjoying a beach where you can totally relax and hear just the sound of the sea.
Then if you can find the energy to leave the pleasant peacefulness of Orte and continue your trip, just go southwards a few kilometres and you will get to Porto Badisco, a resort just 8 kilometres from Otranto, situated at a natural bay between ‘Punta Scuru’ to the north and ‘Capo Palascia’ to the south. This spot is also beautiful and unspoilt, with typical Mediterranean maquis shrubland surrounding the bay.
In Salento il fascino dell’arte, l’ottima cucina mediterranea e l’ospitalità sincera vi accolgono in un paesaggio da sogno. Qui il Medioevo si colora d’Oriente e antiche filastrocche in “griko” risuonano nella Grecìa Salentina, come a Melpignano, dove antichi ritmi diventano musica contemporanea nella Notte della Taranta.
Siete nella penisola verde tra due mari, terra magica dove sorgono antiche masserie oggi trasformate in affascinanti strutture ricettive. A passo di trekking, andate alla scoperta di chiese paleocristiane e frantoi ipogei e non perdete lo spettacolo naturale delle grotte marine di Castro e Santa Maria di Leuca.
Una passeggiata a Lecce è un viaggio nel barocco, tra chiese e palazzi ricamati nella pietra, cortili, giardini segreti e la sorpresa di un anfiteatro romano nel cuore della città. A Brindisi, invece, potete visitare due castelli e godervi il panorama sul lungomare Regina Margherita. Nei borghi si svelano le botteghe artigiane di cartapesta e pietra leccese e sulla tavola stanno tutti i sapori del Salento.
Important things to see
Cities, places and monuments to see in Salento are wasted, so plan to visit at least:
- The Belvedere of Santa Cesarea Terme: along an enchanting road surrounded by forests of Aleppo pine trees, you go up to the top of the village, from which you can admire the entire southern Salento coast with a single glance up to Santa Maria di Leuca.
- The center of Lecce, whose Baroque buildings are candidates for recognition as a Unesco Heritage Site.
- The Aragonese Castle of Otranto and the entire historic center of the easternmost town of Italy.
- The old town of Gallipoli with a visit to the box offices located in the hamlets. (preferably in the evening)
- The view and the meeting between the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea in Santa Maria di Leuca.
- 20 July – Blue Night (Santa Cesarea Terme)
- July 21 – Cucuzzata Festival (Vitigliano) with typical food stands and Salento music
- July 27 – Saracen Night (Santa Cesarea Terme) with fried fish and music
- 2 August – Concert by Maestro Pizzoleo (Santa Cesarea Terme)
- 4-5 August – Bruschetta Festival (Vitigliano)
10 August – White Party Augustus (Santa Cesarea Terme)
- 17-18-19 August – Patron Saint Feast in Cerfignano
- 20-21 August – Patron Saint Feast in Vitigliano
- 11-12 September – Patronal Feast in Santa Cesarea Terme