Exploring the Area

Many elements combine to make the Salento area one of great interest - its natural environment, artistic heritage, agriculture and traditions.  With this in mind, Live Language Salento proposes some itineraries which are guaranteed to ensure an unforgettable stay in our country!

Lecce

The first destination to discover in the Salento area is Lecce, often dubbed " the Florence of the Baroque" thanks to its incredible architecture, made possible by the unique quality of the local stone. Named after the city, "leccese" is golden in colour and is soft and pliable, all factors which have contributed to its popularity. The historical old town is accessed through Porta Napoli, from which point run the most important streets, where we find grand 18th century mansions. Although the origins of the city remain somewhat of a mystery, it is certain that Lecce was influenced by  Ancient Greece and was at one point a flourishing centre of commerce.

It was also conquered by Rome, as evidenced by the Roman Amphitheatre.   This ancient structure was part excavated and reconstructed in 1938. Not far from here we find St. Oronzo Square, the most lively meeting point of the city. The square takes its name from the statue of St. Oronzo, erected in honour of the eradication of the Plague in 1656.

The monument which best illustrates the Baroque architecture of the city is the   St. Croce Cathedral. Dating back to 1500, it is characterized by a large rose window, one of the most elaborate and artistic features of Italian churches. Turning to the majestic Castle, we find a wonderful example of Renaissance architecture. Constructed at the request of Charles V as the last bulwark against the East, it is a well conserved example of military architecture. Continuing through the main avenues of the old town, we reach the Cathedral Square. Here, we are struck by the architectural beauty of the Spire, the Seminary and the Bishop's Mansion. 

However, Lecce is famous not only for its striking churches and Baroque mansions, but also for an art dating back to the 17th century and which, despite using basic and economic materials, has produced undisputed works of value and prestige.  This art-form is known as " carta pesta" and is similar in compositon to papier machι.  It is well advised to take a trip round some of the shops in the old town where craftsmen and women will be happy to demonstrate their art. For enthusiasts of archeology, we thoroughly recommend a visit to the Castromediano museum, rich in artefacts which illustrate the vast panorama of Messapian civilisation in Salento.

 

 Gallipoli - Ugento - S.M. di Leuca

The tour starts in the coastal town of Gallipoli. Unusual in structure, the new town is joined by a bridge to the medieval old town, built on a small island in the Ionian Sea. On this island stands the Castle with its evident Angevine influences. It was reconstructed in the 16th century and, during the summer months, now plays host to various exhibitions and cultural events.  The beautiful panoramic road from the castle traces the ancient walls to the heart of the medieval village. At the centre of the village is the magnificent baroque Cathedral, within whose walls we can admire paintings by local artists. The Greek fountain, dating back to the transitional period between Greek and Roman dominance, is considered the oldest monumental fountain in Italy and can be found between the New Town and the medieval village. Behind the fountain stands the Church of Canneto which, according to tradition, is where fisherman gather to offer prayers at the start of their day at sea.

Travelling South from Gallipoli we reach Ugento, an ancient Messapian city with visible Megalithic ruins.  Further evidence of ancient civilisations are the Castle (13th c.), the Cathedral (18th c.) and numerous noble mansions.

Continuing along the coast brings us to S.M. di Leuca, the furthermost point of the "heel" of Italy, where the Ionian and the Adriatic seas converge.  Thanks to its position, Leuca instills in its visitors a sense of being at the so-called ends of the Earth.  Rising above the Port is a large cliff where we find the Lighthouse and the Sanctuary of St Mary.  The latter is built on ground where, legend has it, stood a temple dedicated to the Goddess Minerva and, according to popular belief, just one pilgrimage to this spot will guarantee entry into Heaven.

 

 Otranto - S.Cesarea Terme - Castro.

The third tour begins in Otranto, a city which, under Byzantine rule, was elevated to capital of the Terra d'Otranto ( the area of Salento which remained in their possession) and fortified, making it one of the strongholds destined to defend the region against Norman penetration. However, due to its unfavourable position, the city fell victim to numerous invasions, the most memorable of which was that of the Turks in 1480 which culminated in the massacre of 800 martyrs. The story of this, and other invasions, is preserved in the Cathedral.  Here we also find a splendid mosaic which recounts in vibrant colour various biblical scenes, for example Adam and Eve in Heaven and the construction of Noah's Ark. The city walls and turrets date back to 15th century. Erected by Ferdinando d'Aragona, the Castle is characterized by round towers and the high city wall give this impressive old town a form similar to that of a ship.

The Southern part of Otranto is also very interesting. On the coastal road towards S.Cesarea Terme we can see the Tower of the Serpent.  The tower is linked in legend to the mystery of the sea, according to popular belief a gigantic sea-snake once rose out of the sea in the thick of night to swallow up the oil from the lighthouse lantern and caused  numerous shipwrecks.  From Punta Palascia, there is  an incredible view of the immense marina not to be missed.

 Further along the coast, we find the famous Caves of Deers, which were discovered in 1970.  These caves are considered to be the first human dwellings in Salento. Dating back to the Paleolithic period, around 20,000 years b.C., exists an underground city with streets, lights, signposts, ponds, temple etc..The city is rich with rock paintings which reveal to 20th c. man how his ancestors lived.

Next, we arrive in S.Cesarea Terme, a city of ancient origin, abundant in luxurious villas, once inhabited by the wealthy Salentine middle-classes and now objects of amazement.  The town is famous for its therapeutic waters, at a temperature of 30° C, through four interlinked caves.  There is a popular Christian legend which tells of Cesarea, persecuted by her father, seeking refuge in these caves. The mountain opened up to save the young woman and it is believed that the waters now carry the purity and good health of Cesarea. 

A few km south from S.C. Terme we come to Castro, a medieval town boasting extraordinary views and two of the most beautiful caves in Italy, the Romanelli and the Zinzulusa Caves. Both caves can be accessed either by sea or by land.

 
Special winter with Live Language Salento! (December 2011- March 2012)
Intensive & Cultural Italian

- Italian Course (15 lessons per week) - cultural activities every afternoon – theatre, cinema, coking lesson, seminar on Tarantism, visits at the museums or monuments and local towns-. - 1 all day excursion per week All levels, from Beginner to Advanced, minimum 2 students.

Special offers 2012 Family offer - Discover Salento
• Welcome party • Intensive Italian language course (20 lessons per 1 week – 40 lessons per 2 wks) • 1 cooking lesson (2 cooking lessons per 2 wks) • 1 guided visit to LECCE / OTRANTO (both 2 wks) • 1 orientation tour of Salento area • 1 dinner in Agriturismo or local Masseria and taste session of local wines and products. • Farewell party
 
 
 
 
Centro di lingue Live Language Salento - C.F. 93098900751 Sito realizzato da Pianeta Software - Lecce - Italy - Salento