From the Ionian to the Adriatic

Ready to dive into the fresh and clear waters of Salento? To swim, perhaps, “from the Ionian to the Adriatic seas”? Do not worry, the route is from coast to coast, yes, but you will not have to go “swimming”!, in fact, offers you an itinerary that from Porto Cesareo reaches Otranto, trying to lead you into temptation by illustrating some “treasures” of the hinterland. But let’s go with order … Who has never heard of the beautiful Porto Cesareo? In the centre of a town standing as a balcony on one of the most beautiful seas in Italy, there is Charles V’s Tower, which dates back to the 6th century. From the tower, one step from the sea, there is the Isola dei Conigli (Isle of rabbits), home to over 200 species of plants. Along the 17 km of the coast that includes Porto Cesareo, a series of Towers and fortified farmhouses stand out, creating suggestive landscapes for touristic excursions. From Porto Cesareo we’ll move to Leverano, for a look at the Square Tower and the Parish church of the seventeenth century. Then another flying visit to Copertino, where we can admire the imposing Castle surrounded by a wide and deep moat and the Shrine of St. Giuseppe from Copertino, the “Saint of flights”. Here, in the heart of the church, there is still the ancient little stable where, in fact, the Saint was born. And now why not reach Lequile too, a few kilometres away? Just from the road we can catch a glimpse of the scenic glazed dome of the Church of St. Vito, located in the historic centre of the town. In front of the church, also remarkable is the homonymous Guglia (Spire), erected in 1694. From Lequile we could reach Melendugno and be fascinated, in this territory, by the presence of the Placa Dolmen … But, let’s move on. Do you know the legend of the Nemanthol of Calimera? This “hole surrounded by stones” is placed in the Church of St. Vito and it is said that, passing over it, it can propitiate motherhood to women and manly power to men … It is worth trying, isn’t it? From Calimera let’s reach Martano. Undoubtedly characteristic will be a walk through its court-houses, and then admiring the Castle (now baronial palace), the Parish Church of the Assumption and the Church of the Immaculate. From these places, a little more than fifteen miles away, here we are finally in Otranto, the city of the “Canal”, our “mirror of the East”. Washed by the Adriatic Sea, the coast winds through shores that attract tourists of all nationalities or generations. But Otranto does not mean only sea, beaches and sun: the town also offers many opportunities for art and culture. Simply visit the Cathedral to discover its typical mosaic floor; go past Porta Alfonsina which, enclosed between two cylindrical towers, gives access to the medieval city. Then again a look at the Castle (end of the 15th century) with Charles V’s coat of arms at the entrance. Also remarkable is the St. Peter’s Byzantine Aedicule of and the Church of S. Maria dei Martiri … If we have forgotten something, you just have to reach us and follow entirely our journey “from the Ionian to the Adriatic seas”.

Translated by: Prof. Rocco Merenda