A treasure to be protected
One of the first distinctive characteristics that you will be told about Salento is, without doubt, the vegetation that outlines its unique and unmistakeable landscape: the mediterranean “macchia”; bushes scattered everywhere, dried out by the sun, mixed with sparse trees.
The word “macchia” (“scrub”) is used because the plants, especially the shrubs, grow sporadically in patches, in random different areas. The scrub derives from the deterioration of ancient large oak and holm-oak forests, of which little evidence remains today, which gave way to grazing, grains, grapevines and olive groves. Mediterranean scrub, however, is dispersed everywhere along the coasts and inland (we suggest exploring the scrubs in Rottacapozza in Ugento, an effective and charming example of this type of vegetation) recognisable by its medium to low-growing vegetation. They are mostly evergreen plants with few flowers, like the cistus and the Scotch broom, the bellflower, and also our cornflower of Leuca, which can be seen inside the Otranto-Santa Maria di Leuca national park. The myrtle, arbutus, wild olive tree and fragrant plants such as mint, rosemary, thyme, caper bush, bay tree, heather and ivy are all plants that are widely distributed over the whole of Salento’s countryside. But a common feature of the mediterranean scrub is the so-called “garrigue”, a pseudo-steppe of herbs, grasses and wildflowers like orchids. Due to its fragility and peculiarity, the scrub has been declared a habitat of Community interest and therefore protected by EEC regulations.
As well as the oak and holm-oak, another typical tree of the scrubland is the carob tree, although it is rare to find. By taking advantage of the mild temperatures and sunny days in June, you can discover the wonders of nature and mediterranean vegetation.
For this reason, our hotel’s garden has been considered an ‘all-in-one’ with the mediterranean scrub that surrounds it, in harmony with the landscape to offer you a sense of well-being, thanks to the olive trees and the typical aromatic herbs. “Pajare” are often found in the countryside that surrounds us; these are circular stones structures immersed in the scrubland from which we took inspiration when building our exclusive hotel.
For centuries, therefore, the people of Salento have sourced their livelihoods from the scrubland. The carob tree produces a sweet fruit, which was given to the animals but also to children making them greedy for its sugary sweetness. Mint, bay and caper are all indispensable flavours that we use in our cooking to enrich meats, pasta and fish. Ivy is still the most one of the most popular creeping plants used to decorate villas and manor farms scattered throughout the countryside, or houses in historic centres.
When you come to join us, take a closer look at the landscape that surrounds you, touch the trees with your own hands, smell the scents of the vegetation and admire the colours. We are certain that you will feel a sense of well-being that will last for a long time, even after your return home.