Santa Maria di Leuca

Known as the southernmost point of the heel of Italy, S. Maria di Leuca (among the most famous tourist resorts of Salento), is situated on a rugged and rocky promontory, interrupted by beautiful sandy coves and natural caves divided into “western caves” and “eastern caves”.
The Coast, the Caves, the Promenade and Finibus Terrae

The name Leuca derives from the greek “leukos“, as it is said that the Greek sailors, arriving from East and seeing the beautiful town lit by the sun, used to call it “leukos”, white city kissed by the shining sun. There has to be pointed out that this place, enchanting by day and amazing by night, presents itself under two different names: Santa Maria di Leuca and Marina di Leuca.

The first is the area located on the headland where there we find the Sanctuary of Santa Maria, the “Finibus Terrae”(so named because it is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and for its geographical position as the most southern point) and one of the tallest lighthouses of Italy. It is believed that, at that point, there is the crossing of the Ionian and Adriatic sea, in fact, the official boundary, as well as natural and historical, between the two seas is given by the strait of sea between the most eastern point of Italy. Santa Maria di Leuca, in all its glory, lies in a stretch of coastline, alternating cliffs with small sandy coves. Of great interest are the caves (reached by a simple swim or boat trips on site) and the pristine sea floor, an underwater paradise for divers.

A staircase of 184 steps connects the Basilica of the underlying port often used for fashion shows. United by a road surrounded by greenery and easily passable by foot, we find Marina di Leuca, between the east Meliso tip and the west Ristola tip, the extreme southern tip of Salento. The distinctive panorama, the busy harbour and the magnificent and colourful nineteenth century villas sloping toward the waterfront, offer to visitors a spectacle of rare beauty. It has an equipped center, where there are all services and sports facilities.


The beautiful Santa Maria di Leuca has taken many names over the years and finally Strabo and Horace called it “Leuca” because, according to Homeric geography, situated to the west of Greece and then illuminated by the sun at dawn; in Greek, Leukos means white. The other part of the name has Christian origins. Legend has it that in the same place where today stands the Sanctuary, once rose a temple dedicated to Minerva, that this temple fell to pieces at the appearance of St. Peter coming from East and going to Rome to preach the word of the Creator. He landed at this point of the Italian peninsula.

A confirmation of the thesis, there is a plaque at the entrance of the sanctuary dating back to 43 AD confirming the transition from paganism to Christianity and a series of popular traditions, one of which says that coming from Gagliano del Capo at the junction for Leuca, near a farm, there is an ancient votive pillar, on which there is the ‘custom of leaving a stone in memory of the visit to the Sanctuary. Well according to tradition, at this point, rested S. Peter, before resuming his journey. Another legend, passed down over centuries, says that near Giuliano there is a pit where it is believed that the saint has stopped to quench his thirst.

Numerous are therefore the evidences: San Pietro from Palestine began hence the process of evangelisation, also changing the name of the town and dedicating it to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The name of the Sanctuary and the homonymous promonutuorio ‘De finibus terrae’, derives instead from the Romans.



by car

Coming from north, drive up the motorway A14 to Bari, continuing southward along the motorway Bari – Lecce. Once you reach Lecce along the ‘Adriatic’s.s. 16 up to Santa Maria di Leuca

by train

Salento is reached along the Adriatic (Milan – Bologna – Pescara) or through the Rome – Caserta; arrived in Lecce FSE bus can be used that will take you to Santa Maria di Leuca. Otherwise you can use the local FSE trains up to Gagliano del Capo, continuing by bus to Santa Maria di Leuca. (For more information

by plane

You can reach Salento with a stopover in Brindisi, where you will choose to wait for the bus that connects the airport to the center of Lecce or rent a car; if you choose the first option you can go to Santa Maria di Leuca by FSE bus, or you can use the local FSE trains up to Gagliano del Capo, from where you can take a bus to Santa Maria di Leuca.