The salentine peninsula with the Ionian sea to the West and
the Adriatic to the East is the perfect destination for anyone who love sto be
surrounded by the beauty of nature.
The landscape is one of green scope and lenghts of golden
sand which stretch for miles, linking picturesque towns and villages. High
above the crystal clear water rise dramatically cliffs, serving as ideal
viewpoints of the exotic landscape. Scattered along the coastline are several
towers constructed around the 16th centuria watchposts to protect the peninsula
from invasion. Today they are constant reminders of the splendour of military
Exploration of the countryside reveals much of the natural
beauty of the area. Idyllic countryroads are bordered by olive groves where
gnarled and twisted trunks are topped by velvety green foliage. As an important
natural resource, these picturesque trees have become considered as one of the
symbols of Salento.
Dotted throughout the fields we find “furnieddrhi”, small
stone constructions built by landworkers as make-shift homes. Other unmissable
examples of rural architecture include the numerous forts which, besides their
defensive purpose, are expressions of civilizations gone by. Although many now
lie in ruins, others have been successfully reconstructed and now house
restaurants and enterteinment venues.
Salento is also famed for its simple and genuine cuisine,
based largely on local produce both from the earth and the sea. The freshness
and quality of the ingredients combine to produce dishes full of flavour and
colour. Among the mouthwatering local specialities are: “pittule”, cauliflower
or turnip greensfried in a type of butter, “scapece”, tiny fish soaked in vi
negar and then fried, traditionally served with bread and saffron;
“cartheddhate” and “purcheddhuzzi”, small cakes made of flaky pastry and
covered with honey and cinnamon. Throughout the year there are many festivals
which showcase various expressions of local culture and folklore.
Characteristic of such events are fireworks, fairy lights,
decorations and bands and naturally they give visitors the unique opportunità
to meet local people and experience a different culture.
Religion is also an important element of life in Salento and
there are numerous festivals dedicated to the various Saints. This religious
devotion links the people of modern day Salento to their ancestors, a link
which is evident through ancient myths and rituals. Salento is the land of
tarantism and it is here that we find the dance “pizzica” which, with its
frenetic rythm played on the tambourine, has the capacity to transport the
dancer to a trance-like state.
The legend of the “taranta” is that people, bitten by a
venomous spider, danced to this rhytmical music to combat the effects of the
venom and were granted protection by Saint Paul. This legend belongs to a
wonderfully rich cultural past with tradition handed down from generation to
generation. Today, this almost tribal music is performed across the region by
various folk bandsduring the summer months, bringing an atmosphere of happiness
and celebration to the warm summer evenings. Of these musical events, the
“Festa di San Rocco” and the “Notte della Taranta” are the most eagerly awaited
by locals and tourists alike.