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!
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
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
- Ugento - S.M. di Leuca
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.
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.
- S.Cesarea Terme - Castro.
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.
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.