An exciting tour of Otranto and other places to visit in Salento.
OTRANTO. You will be enchanted by the historic centre of the Easternmost town in Italy, one of the most beautiful places to visit in Salento: the imposing city walls and the alleys with the flowered balconies are a really picturesque scenery. Visit the Aragonese castle (which is today an important cultural landmark), the byzantine basilica of San Pietro (St. Peter) and the Romanesque cathedral of the Annunziata (the Annunciation of Our Lady) with a sixteen-radius rose window dating back to the fifteenth century and the precious mosaicked floor of monk Pantaleone (twelfth century), representing the tree of life. In the Cappella dei Martiri (Chapel of the Martyrs), you can see the relics of the 813 martyrs of Otranto, murdered by the Turks in 1480 and canonized in 2013.
North of Otranto, you can reach in 10 driving minutes the wonderful Alimini beaches, whose fine sand and brisk wind are appreciated by tourists and are perfect for surfers.
South of Otranto, the coast is instead wild and unspoiled as far as Porto Badisco, a natural inlet that is deep and narrow, full of prickly pears and myrtle shrubs.
Don’t miss these magical places to visit in Salento!
CASTRO. It is situated on a hill overhanging the sea. The old town is very suggestive and strolling among the Romanesque cathedral, the castle and the towers is really enjoyable. The shores constitute one of the most beautiful inlets in Puglia. A visit to Grotta Zinzulusa (a cave) will give you the possibility to admire a wonderful formation of stalactites.
SANTA CESAREA TERME (in the picture). It is situated at the foot of a verdant hill and it has become a renowned spa resort since 1899, with numerous springs of sulphurous water. The seafront is full of beautiful, eclectic villas, such as Villa Sticchi, in Moorish style. If you go towards the South, you will reach the wonderful locality of Porto Miggiano, whose sea is really breath-taking: the emerald waters are crystal-clear, which gives the impression of swimming in a pool!
Other peculiar towns to see in Salento: let’s go back in time!
GIURDIGNANO, MINERVINO DI LECCE, UGGIANO LA CHIESA. It is known as the largest megalithic garden in Europe because of the strong presence of standing stones, dolmens, caves and “specchie” (clusters of limestone slabs).
The standing stones, erected on the rocks and astronomically oriented, might be the expression of cults of the sun and rituals related to the fecundity of the Earth. Dolmens are megalithic rooms with funerary purposes, while the Neolithic “specchie” – erected by piling up stones on the uplands of the Serre Salentine – were used as sighting points by the Homo Sapiens Sapiens while hunting.