ART CITIES NOT TO MISS IN APULIA
From Lecce to Otranto, from Gallipoli to the villages of Salento Greece, there are many artistic and cultural places to discover in Salento.
The territory of Salentian Greece is located between Lecce, Otranto, Maglie and Galatina and has nine villages, all worth visiting: Melpignano, Sternatia, Zollino, Martano, Martignano, Calimera, Soleto, Corigliano d’Otranto and Castrignano dei Greci. Walking through their small squares and alleys you will feel transported to the East, in the distant Middle Ages, and you will hear the locals speak in Griko, a Neo-Hellenic dialect written in Latin characters. The main event of Grecia Salentina is the Notte della Taranta, the festival of music and popular dance of Salento. The final concert is held each year in Melpignano at the end of August. At 5 km from Masseria del Gigante you will find Martano, the capital of Salento Greece. You will be fascinated by its charming historic buildings and cozy courtyards, steeped in culture and history. The peculiarity of the historic center of Martano is to be surrounded by the walls and towers of the castle, which will make you feel part of a separate world that the locals call “Terra”.
The beautiful city of Lecce, is the most important of Salento. Thanks to its Baroque influence, its elegance and charm, Lecce will capture your heart. Start from Piazza Sant’Oronzo to admire its amphitheater, get lost in the streets of the historic center, and be enchanted by the facades of buildings and churches built using the local limestone. Originally, the limestone is honey-coloured, but when treated with milk to reduce the porosity and get more resistant, it takes on unique shades of white. Come across the laboratories hidden among the houses, where they still work the papier-mâché, an ancient tradition of the place, continue to Piazza del Duomo, and don’t forget Basilica of Santa Croce. Then wait for the sunset, because it is at night that Lecce gives the best of itself.
Located on the Adriatic coast, in the easternmost point of the Italian boot, Otranto is the city that first sees the dawn of the new day in Italy. The village of the town is enclosed by defensive walls, inside a labyrinth of alleys and streets characterised by white houses. The Greek, Byzantine, and Aragonese dominations are visible in the architecture of the city. Of particular interest are the Aragonese Castle and the Byzantine Church of San Pietro.
A beautiful city in Salento, Gallipoli is a mix of sun, sea, fun, art, and culture. The picturesque town – where art treasures mingle with the natural beauty of the place – will make you fall in love with its energy. After visiting the white alleys of the village, get lost among the yells of the fishermen at the daily harbor market, where the lively fish auction attracts restaurateurs, retailers, and locals in search of fresh and high-quality products. The same fishermen open all the various shellfish, such as fasolari, cannolicchi, oysters, to offer them as an aperitif to the market patrons … a delight for the palate! From the port it is also easy to admire the Angevin Castle, almost completely surrounded by the turquoise sea.
A trip to Castro is a journey through time and the origin of Salento tradition. In the Aeneid it is mentioned as Aeneas’ landing point in Italy, and it was an important commercial center in ancient times. It owes its origins to the Greeks and the Cretans, but it was later dominated by various invaders, such as the Romans, the Goths, and the Byzantines. The town, today, is divided between the ancient Castro Alta, which preserves its beauty, appearance and monuments such as the castle and Castro Marina which, with its characteristic port, keeps its nature as an ancient fishing village. From Castro Marina it is possible to admire the city of Castro, a mosaic of wonderful white buildings behind the coast.
With its buildings in Leccese stone, its alleys, and the medieval village on a hill halfway between the two seas, Specchia has become part of the guide “I Borghi più belli d’Italia”, as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy. Here it seems that time has stopped. The narrow streets closed to traffic and interrupted by staircases enclose a residential area that is largely the result of spontaneous architecture which remains almost intact to this day. Walking among its streets you will be immersed in the flavor of local customs and you will live a unique experience in the heart of Salento.
BRINDISI & OSTUNI
With a majestic past and one of the most beautiful natural harbors in the Mediterranean, Brindisi is a city rich in history, culture, and beauty. Among its streets you will discover Piazza Duomo, the oldest square in town, the cathedral consecrated in 1089, and one of the twin roman columns still intact. Visiting Brindisi, you can’t miss Ostuni, the picturesque village famous for its stunning sea views and its wonderful milk-white historic center. Here, you can visit the Coastal Dunes Park, its sand dunes and fossils, ponds and ancient olive groves, the museums and the churches of the village, the historic tobacco tannery, and the Tower of San Lorenzo, dating back to the time of the Saracens.