Torre San Giovanni

The beautiful Torre San Giovanni is a place with mainly fine sandy beaches and it is located on the Ionic side of the marvellous Salento peninsula.
Torre San Giovanni, Beach and Coast of the seaside resort of Ugento

Torre San Giovanni is a wide coastal marina of Ugento, with predominantly sandy coast, situated between Gallipoli and Santa Maria di Leuca, bordered to the south with Fontanelle and Torre Mozza and to the north with Posto Rosso. Located where once stood the ancient Roman port, Torre San Giovanni is a small harbour; northward the coast is dotted with low volcanic cliffs, southward there are long stretches of fine white sand. In the sea off the coast, there are some small islands, the water here is crystal clear and the bottoms mostly low. Here, as often occurs along the coasts of Salento near the sea, the landscape is dominated by trees and shrubs typical for the Mediterranean vegetation, with the unmistakable aroma of pine, thyme and rosemary.

The tower is the oldest site of the entire village and is located on a small promontory jutting into the sea that ideally divides the coast in half. To the north the coast is mostly rocky, fairly low almost everywhere, while to the south, past the harbour area, the famous shores with fine white and fine sand attract the tourists. At the foot of the lighthouse every year at Christmas, an outdoor small nativity scene is set up. In addition to the residential area, which is concentrated in the vicinity of the Tower and extends from Mare Verde toward north, until the beginning of the Fontanelle toward south.

There are areas of great historical and archaeological interest (the remains of the ancient district Pazze) and of course the stunning nature (the major site of the municipal is the pine wood). In addition, similarly to the territory of Ugento (of which it is fraction), there are vast agricultural areas used for pasture. The territory of Torre San Giovanni has suffered severely from changes implemented in the name of the business logic, designed to make the most of natural resources present in terms of tourism. Particularly dramatic is the problem of the marine erosion that within a few years has changed the appearance of the coast, especially in the sandy slope. Because of this phenomenon, the extent of beach has been gradually thinning until its total disappearance in some places. This is due to the lack of respect for the natural and original topography of the area: the levelling of the dunes, the eradication of spontaneous vegetation and the illegal building have emphasised (and in some cases caused) the destructive action of wind and sea currents, allowing accelerated erosive action than any natural process. This is particularly visible in the adjacent beach to the lush pine forest south of the town. The cutting down of trees to allow the construction of large tourist villages has deprived the land of the invaluable support of the roots of the trees. The particularly strong currents and the winds did the rest, causing the collapse and subsequent swallowing of whole stretches of beach.

Similar is the story of the marina. Sited in the same place where once the great Roman ships docked, protected from the tower, it has undergone major changes over the years, with the intention to increase capacity to meet the growing demands of tourism. The latest work, however, have worsened the existing situation by increasing the available landing zone, but at the same time, seriously damaging an area of coastline always been the preserve of swimmers which are now almost abandoned. Add to this the pollution of waters, caused by the discharge in the drainage canals (which empties into the sea) of sewage. The result was, that at an inlet of rocky coast (which because of its special shape and the presence of shoals has a very slow water exchange) prohibition of bathing has been applied as a precaution. However, the crystalline waters of Torre San Giovanni are ornamented on three occasions at the turn of the nineties with the Blue Flag of Legambiente.


In the past, it played a strategic role, but his flourishing period was interrupted by the arrival of Malaria, in fact, the marshy stretches allowed the proliferation of Anopheles mosquitoes. After the dark period, the marina was first repopulated by fishermen and then tourism exploded in the 70’s, from which, it saw all its glory, so far, as it constitutes one of the most popular Ionian resorts of Salento.

The tower is one of the many watch towers, built by Charles V for the constant danger of Saracens invasion. Torre San Giovanni has a history so old as the city, which has recently become a fraction, after having previously always been a marine. Everything suggests that this sea port has had some strategic importance since the time of the Messapian town of Ozan (The current Ugento).

The claim is surrogated by the presence of archaeological remains of a section of Messapian walls, located at the foot of the tower, which gives the name to the area, dating back to 500 BC. From the second century BC, under Roman rule, the port was probably used as military stopover, covering an important role in military campaigns, which periodically altered the morphology of the territory. In the area between the Messapian walls, the remains of a Roman housing settlement were found, which further confirms the thesis.

Between historical highs and lows, the area of Torre San Giovanni is found to be abandoned by the population, at appearing of scourge of malaria. Geographic and climatic factors allowed the formation of extensive wetlands, which were soon infested by Anopheles mosquitoes and forced residents to move inland. The situation of neglect lasted until the mid-twentieth century when, following the reclamation and recovery of these territories, implemented by the fascist government, came to be populated, initially only by the fishermen who docked their boats by the port (the houses near the port are in fact the oldest).

Then the tourist boom rises to the early seventies and the subsequent construction of settlements and facilities until the present time, when Torre San Giovanni is certainly a places of great attraction. Over time the function of the tower has changed. At first watch tower, then lighthouse for the aid to sailors, who always stumble into the dangerous (when crossing by boat) shoals, located right at the light signal. Currently owned by the Navy and serves as Coast Guard headquarters.



by car

Coming from north, take the A14 to Bari. From here continue southward along the motorway Bari – Lecce. Once you reach Lecce, go along the SS16 ‘Adriatic’ direction Maglie. From here continue through SP69 Maglie – Collepasso, where after about 8 km turn left towards Casarano, continuing until Melissano toward Racale where after about 10 km you will arrive directly at Ugento. From Ugento follow the signs for Torre San Giovanni. 

by train

Torre San Giovanni is reached along the Adriatic (Milan, Bologna, Pescara) or through the Rome – Caserta. Once in Lecce FSE bus up to Torre San Giovanni can be used. (For more information 

by plane

You can reach Torre San Giovanni, with a stopover in Brindisi, where you will choose to wait for the terminal that connects the airport to the center of Lecce or rent a car. If you choose the first option you can continue to Torre San Giovanni by FSE buses.