Paths through spirituality, history and nature
Leuca is always full of allure because it is the last piece of land before the boundless Mediterranean Sea. It is the intersection for the coming and going of a thousand different peoples, the door to the Orient and also a pilgrimage for the many people devoted to the Sanctuary of Santa Maria di Leuca.
Last year, on the 28th May, the initiative called ‘Cammini di Leuca’ was inaugurated at the monumental complex of “Leuca Piccola”, at Barbarano del Capo that we warmly advise you to visit. It is a path through landscapes and history, aimed at turning the three ancient roads that led to Leuca and date back to Roman times, a destination for excursions on foot and by bike. It is a perfect holiday for the Spring-Summer season when the weather is lovely and temperatures are moderate.
The three roads are the Via Sallentina, the Via Leucadense and the Via Traiana-Calabra. These roads have led thousands of people to Finibus Terrae along the centuries, many of whom devoted to the Sanctuary of Santa Maria di Leuca.
Today, the Cammini di Leuca are an excellent occasion to discover the allure of Salento and its natural beauties. In fact, some stretches of these routes lead to the “Parco Naturale Otranto – S.M. di Leuca” or to the Torre Guaceto reserve. You will be able to discover less known archaeological and architectural splendours here.
The Via Sallentina is a Roman road that already existed in Messapian times and connected Taranto to Otranto on the Ionian side of Puglia. This road has seen many a battle especially during the war against Hannibal. It was a useful road because of its important role in connecting the port of Leuca to the Via Appia. The Via Sallentina lies in an extraordinary landscape. Traffic is limited, therefore adapt for walks and along it you can admire the trulli, the dry stone walls and the Mediterranean maquis.
The Via Leucadense is a very ancient road for pilgrims that came as far as from France, asking the Virgin Mary for forgiveness and favours. The itinerary goes from Brindisi towards Leuca and is full of historic traces. The route is marked by many votive crypts and chapels dedicated to the Madonna that still conserve Greek, Byzantine and Latin reminiscences. There are many particularly beautiful sanctuaries, chapels and churches in which to stop and meditate or just simply rest, all dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
The Via Traiana – Calabra also dates back to Roman times. It begins in Brindisi and goes as far as the port of Otranto passing through Lecce, Valesio and Calimera. Unlike the others, this road has changed a lot in the course of the centuries but some of its stretches are still practicable on foot and they pass through some characteristic towns of the ‘Grecìa Salentina’, a group of towns where they speak the Grìka minority language. Along this road you must visit the Valesio archaeological park with its Roman ruins.