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You discover it and you never want to leave, and when you leave you impatiently wait to come back. Puglia, if you love it as much as we do, is a pleasant sentence to serve, both for those who look at it with the curious eyes of a “stranger,” and for those born there with Puglia’s landscape in their DNA. Puglia consists of 800 km of coastline enclosed between two seas that guard canyons, ravines, archaeological excavations and UNESCO sites, holding a treasure chest of art, history and nature on the inside. It is a region well-known for its steep cliffs and sunsets that plunge into salty waters, famous beaches and hidden coves, olive groves and vineyards, aromas and flavors, grandmothers’ secret recipes on the table, chatter in the alleyways, and boisterous lunch dates. It is a piece of southern authenticity in the shape of a boot heel with a colorful coastline, divided between the northern beauties of the Gargano and Daunia, the echoes of the imperial past, the villages of Terra di Bari, the trullis of the Valle d’Itria, the Ionic Tarantino Arch, and the thousands of local faces ready to greet you in Salento.
The “deep south” in particular, which extends from Pilone to Taranto to Leuca to greet the equator, has become a real magnetic pole over the last few years, attracting tourists from all over the world. And now that the beautiful days have swept away the memories of a long winter, the opportunity for a weekend out of town begins to tempt everyone, and we have some advice for a break on the west side, perhaps between the provinces of Taranto and Lecce. June and September are perhaps the best time to push aside the idea of crowded coastlines and breathe a sigh of relief at the sight of empty streets. Seize the moment and savor the authentic essence of Salento, spared from the hustle and bustle of July and August.
In short, accompanied by Sirocco, the north wind, menhirs, and dolmens, we travelled to this alluring slice of Puglia, and these are the secrets that we want to share with you.
Peaceful Dreams at Antica Villa del Conte
Just for you, we have found a small, silent paradise on the crystal clear sea and postcard beaches of Punta Prosciutto, an oasis we cannot wait to return to. Antica Villa del Conte, captained by the Zanzico family, is the perfect place to enjoy this beautiful paradise from just a few steps away, while from the terraces of the rooms the view finds itself in the horizon. Benito, the oldest son, entrepreneur, and owner of this jewel on the coast, along with his siblings serve a noble cause: to share, day by day, their love for the land, actively supporting the region in the process. Genuine, kind and helpful, the Zanzicos are eager to give you expert advice for a full Apulian experience.
The apartments, equipped with all the comforts of living, were designed to favor natural materials. The rooom’s furniture recreates a pleasant atmosphere that envelops guests in a cloak of tranquility. You can also pampered with special services, including special packages to rent umbrellas and beach chairs, tastings by local chefs such as Luigi Giurgola (an old friend of the family), as well as food and wine tours at local wineries and farms in the area. Finally, to celebrate a special occasion (for example, a wedding proposal or anniversary), you can reserve your own little corner of the resort, adorned with flowers, cake and champagne.
Have we convinced you yet?
Like the Caribbean, but with no time zone: Welcome to San Pietro in Bevagna, Punta Prosciutto, and Baia di Torre Lapillo
The west coast of Salento has among its highlights three locations where the 3 Sails of Legambiente fly, which we believe are definitely worth a visit.
San Pietro in Bevagna, near Manduria, is a picturesque town with a seaside resort that bears a similar name. Here you will find yourself strolling on a sprawling beach punctuated by soft dunes and low cliffs, alternating between long stretches of sand (Momà Exclusive Beach is among the most popular) and “free” sections for relaxation at no cost. Add Chidro Beach to the list of places to be where a river of fresh, icy water flows into the sea. According to an urban legend, the shells found there are the tears of St. Peter turned to stone.
The aforementioned Punta Prosciutto is a must of the Natural Park “Palude del Conte e Duna Costiera,” framed by thick, centuries-old Mediterranean vegetation, while the white sand of the coast is caressed by crystal-clear, shallow salt water. The beach is a popular destination for athletes, windsurfers, sailors, and scuba divers alike, with easily accessible equipment facilities. Among the endless choices we recommend Antica Villa del Conte (which goes without saying) as well as Samanà Beach, for a break under that straw umbrella for a sip of a good drink.
Upon leaving Punta Prosciutto and arriving at Torre Castiglione, stop off at Togo Bay Beach. Here, you can enjoy the summer in the shade of palm trees and palmettes in between quality lunches and aperitifs to the melody of live music. And at Baia di Torre Lapillo, the smooth sand beach is over 4 km long with a backdrop of the emerald sea. You have the ability to choose between both beaches frequented by a younger crowd, such as Bahia Porto Cesareo, where time is marked by swimming and happy hours, or others tend to be more peaceful, which are ideal for families.
Into the wild: a walk on Isola dei Conigli
If sunbathing isn’t enough for you, opt for a little exploration in the wild. Heading south, stop in Porto Cesareo, a village equally famous among tourists for its beautiful sea, to visit the Isola dei Conigli. The atoll owes its name to the many wild rabbits that were once raised there, and from the small port in town, fishing boats and private ferries take curious tourists there daily. And if you see fit, you can even swim to reach it (about 1 km from the shore). Once you arrive on the island, the scents of rich Mediterranean vegetation, a forest of pines and cypresses, and a secluded beach are sure to welcome you.
ENTERTAINMENT AND NIGHTLIFE
Happy Hours in Porto Cesareo and the call of Gallipoli
Between aperitifs on the sea and pressing DJ sets, in Salento you never get bored; in this regard, we recommend in the area, in addition to the Bahia Porto Cesareo that we have already presented, the Togo Bay, one of the coolest and coolest addresses with dances open from Friday to Sunday, from sunset until evening, and the Isola Beach (with Grand Opening on June 1st).
For those who want to go as far as Castro, grab a pen and paper and write this name down: BluBay, one of the most popular clubs in Salento (complete with swimming pools), is considered one of the most beautiful nightlife venues in southern Italy, which fills the sky with music and lights from above throughout the summer.
For the lions of the night, the fun at Gallipoli is less than an hour’s drive away. The “Italian Ibiza,” especially during this busy season, is sure to impress with beach parties on Baia Verde, various events with internationally renowned guests, and discos (you have certainly heard of Praja, Amamè and Rio Bo). However, beware the crowds…
Seafood on the table and sweet temptations
For lunches and dinners in Porto Cesareo, Antimo and Cosimino Ristorante are the answer. The quality of the sea comes to the table in the form of strikingly colorful and delicious dishes infused with a love of tradition and a focus on raw ingredients. And when the sun is hot, gelato is a temptation you can willingly indulge in. Principe’s gelato is an institution in the village, where you can enjoy your treat on the charming terrace and enjoy the view.
In Torre Lapillo, Pescheria 3.0 delights you with fresh fish cooked fast, giving take-away a completely different meaning and flavor, while in Santa Maria al Bagno Art Nouveau, a refined restaurant set in a late 19th century-style building with breathtaking views, takes care of your culinary needs.
In Santa Caterina it is always time for Beija Flor beach. This place captivates the eyes and the palate with its wooden structure overlooking the Ionian Sea and the chef’s creations that mix ingredients at km 0 for both local and exotic recipes.
And if, finally, your trip happens to include a visit to Lecce, the Queen of Salento, do not miss the opportunity to treat yourself to a sgarro from Pasticceria Natale, winner of TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence. Try it and let us know!
”Made in Puglia” creative craftsmanship
Salento rhymes with craftsmanship. In every place, you can indulge in the many shops able satisfy everyone’s tastes, from the curious to the demanding. In Lecce, the offer of must-see places triples. In the historic old town, near the Piazza di Sant’Oronzo, we recommend Artègo, a shop dedicated to home decor. Find enclosed within its walls unique creations by artists and craftsmen who tell the story of the region.