On my way from Lecce to Matino I also stopped in Otranto, a harbour town in the east of the Salento. About 5 kilometers away from Otranto a lighthouse „Faro della Palascìa“ marks the most easterly point of the Italian mainland. Beside the little harbour and lovely old city there is (of course) a castle as the city was already an important port even in the roman times.
On March 28th 1997 an Albanian boat filled with refugees sank after a collision with an Italian naval vessel and at least 57 Albanians drowned. Greek artist Costas Varotsos transformed parts of the sunken ship to this monument in the harbour of Otranto.
Almost 3000 people drowned in 2016 on their way to Europe – please support the work of private vessels like the Sea Watch saving hundreds of lifes every day! #safepassages
The heel of Italy lies between the Adriatic and Ionian coasts – or in other words: endless rows of olive trees lie between sandy beaches and tall cliffs.
Make a stop at Grotta Verde at the Marina di Andrano – it´s really easy to find and so amazing to be able to swim into this grotta. Don´t forget your snorkeling equioment and if you don´t have any, don´t worry the little bar at the parking sells some stuff.
There are a lot of beach clubs, as almost everywhere else in Italy, but also some beautiful hidden beaches, even some that are reachable from the street – just watch out if some cars are parked at the costal road. That´s always a good sign!
I stayed in Matino, a little town quite in the middle of the Salento and the perfect spot to explore the heel from all sides – it´s just a nice and easy drive around. With many great places to stop, take a sip or just have some caffè.
What´s been the trulli in the Valle d`Itria seem to be towers in Salento – they are everywhere on the coast, some of them turned into restaurants and also a lot of round stone buidlings of different hights.
Being at the most southern point of my journey: Santa Maria di Leuca
I had to say good bye to the beautiful Valle d´Itria and continue my journey down south to the Salento – but I wouldn´t wanna miss Lecce on my way down. Actually I also stopped in Brindisis for some caffè with my fellow photographer Alessandra.
Lecce, also known as the „Florence of the South“, because of its baroque architecture, is one of the bigger towns in Puglia and a university town. Lots and lots of little cafés, shops and restaurants – and of course all those stunning monuments.
I parked more or less by accident next to the city center and to the tourist information, which was not only open, but also helped with maps and more infornation – Lecce seems to be more than ready for tourists!
Conquered by the Romans in the 3rd century BC it was under Roman rules on and off for the next centuries.
The County of Lecce was one of the largest and most importants fiefs in the Kingdom of Sicily from 1053 to 1463, when it was annexed directly to the crown. From the 15th century, Lecce was one of the most important cities of southern Italy, and, starting in 1630, it was enriched with precious Baroque monuments. (Wikipedia)
Indeed, so distinctive is Lecce’s architecture that it has acquired its own moniker, barocco leccese (Lecce baroque), an expressive and hugely decorative incarnation of the genre replete with gargoyles, asparagus columns and cavorting gremlins. Swooning 18th-century traveller Thomas Ashe thought it ‚the most beautiful city in Italy‘, but the less-impressed Marchese Grimaldi said the facade of Basilica di Santa Croce made him think a lunatic was having a nightmare. (Loneyplanet)
It´s just a very short drive from San Vito to Pogliano but it took me a while to find some parking, the whole of Italy had the ides to spend their sunday in the town above the cliffs with the famous beach, which was really crowded. But as soon as one got lost in the narrow alleys most of the other people started to disappera.
The origins of this enchanting place date back to the 4th century BC when Greek settlers founded the city of Neapolis. It flourished under the Romans and was important enough for Emperor Trajan to direct his Via Traiana, built between 108-110 AD, through the town. Remains of this road include a bridge at Lama Monachile, just north of the historic centre. (thethinkingtraveller)
It´s a nice walk alround the tiny old town and even a little further into the not that old town, hello white buildings (again). There are a lot of caves in and around Pogliano, one even became a (very fancy) restaurant. Doing a boattour around the city must be amazing (next time!)
Maybe you should even sing an old (ESC) classic while wandering around town or enjoying the view from one of the terraces: “ Nel blu dipinto di blu…. Volare..!“ – Domenico Modugno is a son of Pogliano a mare! And singing is way less dangerous than the very popular cliff diving!
Even so it´s monday, let´s go back to last sunday, when I discovered this little jewel near Pogliano a Mare – I think I saw a picture on Instagram once and decided I would do the little detour on my way to Pogliano.
And ended up spending almost the whole day there. It´s a little beach and port, three or four restaurants, a Benedictine abbey from the 10th century (private) and a Saracen tower.
Actually that isn´t the town San Vito dei Normanni, but it´s beach area (spaggia). And I still wonder if there used to be building around the tower, the rocks seem to be too perfect to be natural (see picture above & below), but couldn´t find anything so far.