Meeting and mingling in Leuca
Being in the south of every south. Being in between two seas. Kissing the Mediterranean. Being Mediterranean is much more than a mere geographical notion. It is a cultural fact. A matter of identity and those who come to Leuca understand this. Being Mediterranean means drawing life from the sea and the land, drinking wine and breaking bread with others. Ever since Odysseus sailed these seas, hospitality is a sacred bond.
Many men from all around have come here in the centuries. And we are all brothers in the Mediterranean. On the other shore of the Mare Nostrum they grow olive trees and vines, and in summer the sun shines on our white houses with the same intensity.
The Greeks came first and they gave us our beautiful name, Leuca “the white”, with their beautiful buildings and their knowledge of sailing. Then the Romans came and brought their knowledge of urban design and politics. After the Romans, many populations have come and gone in their conquest of the South, rich with resources, but always forgotten.
But history has not always kept traces of these conquerors. Normans, Franks, Spaniards… Often things one remembers are strange. Leuca, for example, remembers the Turks that in 1500 dominated the sea.
The many towers that can be seen all along the coast are watchtowers that used to announce the arrival of the feared Saracen ships.
One of them is the alluring Torre dell’Omomorto (the Dead Man’s Tower). It’s name comes from the finding of some human bones inside it. On the crenellated tops we can imagine artillerymen ready to fire. There are also many other towers, like Torre Vado and Torre Marchiello, in Morciano di Leuca and in Castrignano del Capo, respectively. The first one is well preserved thanks to restoration works and has an elegant aspect due to its double-arched windows. Back in the day, it was used as a “cavallara” tower. In other words, it had a messenger on horseback that in case of danger would set off and warn the inland towns. The second tower, can still be visited even if it is more neglected.
But mostly, the meeting and mingling of various cultures occurred in peace and without great clamour, among simple people. Merchants, artisans, workers and bankers from Turkey, Arabia and Jerusalem, all stopped in Leuca or have stayed to live here. Not to talk about the thousands of pilgrims that came to the Sanctuary from Spain, France and Northern Italy. During WWII, Leuca hosted the English and Americans and is still at the front for hospitality.
History has taught us to always embrace and include and make our guest feel like a king. This is the real Mediterranean soul of Salento and this is the spirit that blows over Leuca, on its promenade, among the houses and here at the Montirò Hotel.