With about 150 km of coastline, Salento offers a unique variety of landscapes, sea and beaches. So we’d better plan our journey in order to be sure of visiting the most important places.
That is why, in this guide, you will find some advice and above all a valid itinerary to keep in mind when you visit the Adriatic coast, if you are here for 7 days. (For the things to see in 7 days on the Ionian, click here).
DAY 1, LECCE – Our journey starts from Lecce, the main hub for any route you choose. Here, there are many things you can visit: from Piazza Sant’Oronzo, with the “Sedile” and the statue with the Patron Saint that gives its name to the square, to the Roman amphitheater. Do not miss the Castello Carlo V, the Cathedral with the bell tower and the Basilica of Santa Croce, the highest expression of the Baroque of Lecce. During your stay in Lecce, you must enjoy an iced coffee with pasticciotto in one of the bars in the square or, if you take a tour in the evening, you can stop for an aperitif in one of the many clubs in the city center.
DAY 2, MARINE DI MELENDUGNO – If you are in Salento, you can’t wait to enjoy a day at the beach, that’s why our second stop is in San Foca , Roca and Torre Dell’Orso, just twenty minutes by car from Lecce. Certified by the “Bandiera Blu” Award of Legambiente, this segment of the coast is among the most beautiful in the Adriatic. You must visit the Grotta della Poesia, the most famous cave in Salento, in Roca Vecchia, site of archaeological excavations, where you can also admire the ruins of the castle and the sanctuary of the Madonna di Roca of the seventeenth century. The Grotta della Poesia is a natural pool with crystal clear water whose name takes origin from the Greek “Posìa”, a source of fresh water.
If you love, instead, the beach of fine sand, Torre Dell’Orso, otherwise known as the “Caribbean of Salento”, will offer you exactly what you are looking for! The town has become over the years one of the most popular place in Salento also thanks to its numerous nightclubs. Among the most famous symbols of Torre Dell´Orso are the stacks called “Le due Sorelle“.
DAY 3, GRECìA SALENTINA – After a whole day at the beach, it is worth going into the hinterland to discover the ancient traditions of Salento. From Torre Dell’Orso, it will be enough to drive about 15 minutes to visit the towns of Grecìa Salentina, where the Greek influence of the past is still maintained today thanks to the “griko”, a language born from the mixture of Greek and local dialect.
Let’s start from Sternatia, the country where the “griko” is today best known and spoken among the inhabitants. Walking through the streets of the old town will be a very pleasant experience, with a visit to the Chiesa Madre, Palazzo Granafei and the oldest monument in the country, the Colonna dell’Osanna.
We move, therefore, to Martano, one of the largest villages of Greek influence in this area, inhabited during the Middle Ages by settlers from the Roman Empire. The historic center of Martano, circumscribed by towers and the castle, still preserves some parts of the ancient city walls. It is worth visiting Palazzo Moschettini, the Chiesa Madre and the convent of the Cistercian monks.
A few kilometers separate Martano from Melpignano. The small town was a village inhabited by the Greeks. Worth seeing are piazza San Giorgio, Torre Dell’Orologio and the former convent of the Agostiniani, a stage that hosts every summer “Notte della Taranta”, the most important event of traditional Salento music.
We have indicated in detail only 3 villages, but if you want to continue the complete tour of this area you can also visit Calimera, Castrignano dei Greci, Corigliano d’Otranto, Martignano, Soleto and Zollino.
DAY 4, OTRANTO – Together with Gallipoli, on the Ionian coast and Lecce, Otranto definitely worth a visit during your stay. It is a small village in the easternmost point of the Adriatic shore. You will be enchanted by the small alleys, with craft shops where you can go shopping. You must visit the Aragonese Castle, that hosts important art exhibitions; the Cathedral of Santa Maria Annunziata, with its mosaic floor dating back to the mid-twelfth century; the chapel dedicated to the martyrs of Otranto, in which the bones of those who died in the massacre by the Turks in 1480 are preserved.
DAY 5, ALIMINI AND CAVA DI BAUXITE – For the fourth day of travel, we always stay nearby Otranto. In fact, if you want to alternate the cultural visit with the day spent on the beach, you are in the right place. A few kilometers from Otranto, you will find the “Laghi Alimini”, among the most uncontaminated places of Salento, with an ecosystem that hosts various species of animals and plants. The two lakes, one of fresh water and the other saltwater, take their name from the ancient Greek and Byzantine “marsh”, “basin”.
If, on the other hand, you want to admire a truly unusual landscape, you should definitely visit the ex-bauxite quarry, abandoned in the 1970s. Here, you will be immersed in a lunar landscape with the green pond that gives a striking contrast to the red of bauxite.
DAY 6, CASTRO – We are in the second half of the holiday week, but there is still so much to see! Backpacker and ready to go towards South and stop at Castro. Here the coast becomes rocky, but we suggest you – even if you are not expert swimmers – to stop in the small village anyway, even only to admire the landscape or to eat unforgettable fried fish.
At this point, you can’t help to visit to the Grotta della Zinzulusa, located between Castro and Santa Cesarea Terme. The cave owes its name to the “zinzuli”, or karst formations, especially stalactites, similar to “rags” hanging from the ceiling.
The cave is invaded by both marine and spring waters and it is divided into three parts: entrance, crypt (inhabited by a large number of bats) and bottom. At a very short distance from Castro you can find Santa Cesarea, famous for its thermal waters, characterized by beautiful Moorish-style villas with Middle Eastern charm.
DAY 7, TRICASE – We have almost reached the end of the itinerary, but there is still time to head towards South, up to Tricase. Here you can walk through the old town with its charming streets and visit the church of San Michele Arcangelo.
Then move to Marina Serra and take a swim in the natural pools, where the sea water is bounded by the low cliff and the depth varies from 20 to 70 cm. The crystal clear waters make it a perfect place both for adults and children.
Here are some useful tips about where to stay during your holidays in Salento.
For more info about your holidays:
holiday houses -> www.casesalento.com
Holiday luxury villas -> www.villesalento.it
email -> firstname.lastname@example.org
Mobile Phones -> (+39) 392/0202233 – (+39) 328/461763