What to see in Salento-Puglia

What to see in Salento-Puglia

Also known as “the Italian Maldives”, Salento is the heel of the boot, at the very end of country.


It includes, approximately, Taranto, Lecce and Brindisi province.


If you want to take a break from the city frenzy to reach a calmer, authentic and traditional lifestyle, this is the perfect place.


Small hamlets with stone houses and castles – some of them built centuries ago – live together with the inhabitants in a calm, peaceful atmosphere, surrounded by nature and tranquillity.


Untouched beaches and traditional and historical cities will win your heart.


Warm: this will be Salento’s major gift, without asking for anything in return.


This is one of the fewest places left to enjoy the local lifestyle, without having to necessarily visit museums or official sites.


How to reach Salento


The easiest and closest airport is the Brindisi one, with regular flights from Rome and other cities.


Once there, the best choice to move around is to rent a car, to be independent and visit several places.


If you prefer a scheduled trip with several stops in the most interesting and relevant spots, you may want to choose an organised tour.


The best moment to visit Salento


In summer, Salento is one of the most popular locations for tourists for its white sand beaches and its sun.


If you do not plan a sea holidays, it is advisable to visit this area in September, April or October.


June is a good time slot for the beach, while July and August tend to be very hot, even though the constant winds make it still acceptable.


A local way of saying proclaims: "Salentu, lu sule, lu mare, lu ientu" , literally "Salento, sun, sea and wind" .


What to see in Salento between sea and hinterland


The touristic popularity of the area has increased relevantly during the last couple of decades, as before it was only a remote part of the very south of Italy.


Tourism started developing with the discover of the taranta culture (the traditional dance style), the traditional and folkloric festivals, the uncontaminated beaches and the paradise dream, together with the cities full of history and legends and, last but not least, its food and the possibility to enjoy a low cost holiday.


Let’s find out the must-see in Salento.




Lecce is divided in two parts, the new one, full of beautiful modern building, shops and restaurants, and the old, charming downtown.



Both areas are gorgeous and include several must-sees, so be sure to take a walk in each of them.


Among the places you cannot miss, we have:


  • The Castle of Charles V, known also as “Lecce Castle”;

  • Porta Rudiae: this door has origins at the beginning of XVIII century and it is one of the three city doors still left in Lecce;

  • Piazza Sant’Oronzo: this square is the heart of the downtown and it is full of shops, coffee places and a good sport to admire the amphitheatre and, of course, the Column. The square was, once, the meeting place of the old city;

  • The Roman Amphitheatre: when in use, it was able to host more than 25.000 guests. It was discovered during some excavations and half of it is still buried under the square;

  • Column of Saint Oronzo: about 29 meters tall, it was built as a symbol of gratitude towards the Saint, who was believed to have protected the city during the 1656 plague in the Naples Reign;

  • Lecce Cathedral: the Dome was originally built in 1144. It was then totally renewed between 1659 and 1670,  when it was also added a five floors bell tower and an octagonal cupola in the upper part;

  • Basilica di Santa Croce;

  • Porta San Biagio (a second city door);

  • The city villa: this park was originally built as an accessible garden only for the members of the royal family. It was open to the people only in case of special events and became public in 1869;

  • Saint’s Mary Church;

  • Porta Napoli (the third city door).


In this, as in all the other cities in Salento, every walk will give you unforgettable panoramas at each corner.



Otranto is very small and pretty, surrounded by the city walls, crossed by the typical tight streets reaching white houses and terraces with a view on the clear, blue sea.


Also here, there are some places you need to see:


  • Seafront: kiosks, benches and beaches, both free or with equipped clubs;

  • Porta Alfonsina: built after the liberation of the city from the Turkish, this door is the entrance to the historical area from the seaside part;

  • Otranto Cathedral: it was first built in roman style, then rebuilt after the Turkish attack. The façade is very bare, except for a rose window and a few decoration on the door, but inside you will be able to admire a marvellous, huge mosaic covering the entire floor;

  • The Civic Tower;

  • Saint Peter’s Church: it is a small church from the Byzantine period, with a very beautiful series of frescos;

  • Bastione dei Pelasgi: it is a bastion from which it is possible to observe the harbour of the city and the beauty of the sea;

  • Otranto Castle: a huge castle with three round towers and a bastion covering almost entirely the dock surface; it is currently the location of three exhibitions;

  • Punta Palascìa lighthouse: not far from the city, it is possible to see the lighthouse defining the spot in which the Adriatic and the Ionic sea meet, in the most east-oriented part of Italy.


Having a walk to the city streets, you will also find plenty of local shops selling traditional products.




Ostuni is a nice city known as “The white city”, as it was a costume to whiten with lime the houses in the downtown.


Take a walk through its alleys to admire the most charming spots:


  • The Gothic Cathedral;

  • Defense walls: strong and resistant, interrupted by 5 entrance doors of which today only two are left namely San Demetrio and Porta Nova
  • Piazza della Libertà (the square of freedom): here two churches are located, Saint Francis one and its cloister, transformed into Palazzo San Francesco, today hosting the Municipality;
  • Sant’Oronzo Obelisk;

  • Saint Spirit’s Church;

  • Corso Vittorio Emanuele: this is the main street. Around nr. 162, there is a terrace, the most panoramic point of Ostuni;

  • Beaches: the most famous ones are Rosa Marina, Torre Pozzella, Santa Lucia, Lido Morelli and Pilone Beaches.


With no doubt, you will fall in love with the city at first sight.




The old city of Gallipoli is located in the south-west corner of Puglia region.


Its identity stays indissolubly tied to the ocean rhythms – fishermen set up their nets before going out in the sea in the morning, seafood is the core ingredient of most menus and the city flare is still perceptible from its ancient walls.


As the rest of the Apulian cities, the main attraction is the downtown beauty.  


Take a moment to walk through the alleys, the corners and the street and admire:


  • Angevin Castle;

  • Purity beach;

  • The old harbour: close to the Greek fountain, to have a look at the fishermen and their colorful boats;

  • Sant'Agata Cathedral;

  • Corte Gallo (Rooster’s Court): the oldest part, located on an originally calcareous island.

Gallipoli has also a perfect position to take one-day tours and visit the beautiful beaches such as Punta della Suina, Samsara or Pescoluse – (the so called “Salento’s Maldives).


In conclusion, this small town still stays faithful to the Greek meaning of its name, “beautiful city”.  


Interesting places in Salento


We just went through the most famous spots to visit in Salento, but there are many more which need to be included in the list for their beauty and touristic/historical relevance.


These are my 6 suggestions:


  1. Meledugno - Grotta della Poesia (The Poetry Cave): situated in the Lecce province, it attracts many tourists thanks to its marinas: Torre Specchia Ruggeri, San Foca, Torre dell'Orso, Sant'Andrea and Roca Vecchia. This last one hosts the gorgeous Poetry’s Cave, one of the most beautiful natural pool of the world, allowing spectacular plunges from a 5 meters high.

  2. Castro Marina: it is part of  Castro, Lecce province. It is located in a coast area full of natural caves, such as the Zinzulusa Cave;

  3. Santa Maria di Leuca: a small village in Castrignano del Capo, Lecce province. A touristic place especially famous for its nineteenth century villas – they were 43 at the end of the XIX century, many of which are currently abandoned or transformed. Also the beaches need to be mentioned: visit Torre dell’Orso or Pescoluse;

  4. Grottaglie: in the Taranto province, known as “the city of ceramics”, but also as "city of the grapes" for its vineyards;

  5. Baia dei Turchi: a few km from Otranto, this is a sandy and uncontaminated bay, belonging to the precious Alimini Lakes protected oasis, one of the most important ecosystem in the area and the region;

  6. Torre Guaceto: ( in the main photo)  this is a natural State reserve a few kilometres from the cities of  Carovigno and San Vito dei Normanni.



Loc.Poesia one of the most natural and amazing pool in Puglia region



View of Santa maria di Leuca


Salento hosts also some of the most beautiful hamlets in Italy, among which you should not miss Specchia, famous for its tradition of handmade works from iron, trod copper, olive wood, reed, straw and Lecce stone, and Presicce – city of Oil and Hypogeums, both located in the Lecce province.


What else to visit in Puglia


Apulia is not only Salento: there are many more places to visit.


Cities and villages will have your heart at first sight!


Among these, Alberobello and its famous Trulli, the typical houses, and the gorgeous Polignano a Mare, full of alleys and with a majestic cliff. Both are in Bari province, less than one hour from Ostuni.



So, are you ready to book your Apulian trip?