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Holiday in Puglia: my itinerary on the Adriatic side of Salento

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Martí Micolau
@martímicolau
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Anyone who knows me well knows that I am not a lover of the summer season. I suffer from the heat, I hate being in the sun and although I don't despise the sea, I am averse to crowded beaches. In short, from what should be a season dedicated to holidays and relaxation, for me it becomes anything but? a period of relaxation. Yet, thanks to a trip made last year in Salento, I discovered what it means to find peace and tranquility? standing on the beach. I also learned that the sea in which I used to dive was nothing more than a puddle compared to the water in which I was able to immerse myself in the lower Puglia. This journey, like all the journeys I undertake,? done with my boyfriend and if last season we embarked on a tour on the Ionian side, this year we dedicated ourselves to the Adriatic coast.

1 day

The starting point, as well as? base, for our itinerary? been Otranto. We stayed in the B&B Sunshine located 900 meters from the entrance to the city? and 10 minutes drive from the pi? beautiful beaches of the Salento Adriatic. Otranto? without a doubt a city? rich in history. IS? considered the? Gateway to the East? and this certainly influenced in all respects its culture, its art and its history. IS? a town with little more? of 5000 inhabitants, yet c ?? a contamination between peoples and culture that cannot? not notice. A resort all to visit, with a historic center that offers wonderful walks, where can you? admire the Cathedral of the Annunziata, the Byzantine Church of San Pietro and the Aragonese Castle.
As soon as we arrived we immediately wanted to immerse ourselves in one of the beautiful beaches of Salento, namely the Baia dei Turchi. Does this bay have it all? that I look for in a coast. ? an uncrowded, uncontaminated place, with bursting vegetation, a crazy view, the crystal clear sea and even an ancient history. A bay that knows how to surprise you, since? it remains completely hidden by a grove that must necessarily be crossed to reach the beach. During the journey you can? see from above the wonderful scenery that makes absolutely entice people to get to the most? soon on the waterfront. Once on the coast you can not? do not be amazed by the spectacle of clear water, framed by rocks and sand.
The Baia dei Turchi has a history of its own since? it was the landing place of the Ottoman army during the invasion of 1480. Many historians think that the invading ships were headed for Brindisi and that perhaps, due to contrary winds, the Turks lost their way, finally anchoring in the bay. From here begins the story of the bloody battle of Otranto which ended with the killing of 800 Otranto who refused to renounce faith in Christ and convert to Islam. From this Turkish occupation comes the expression? Mamma li Turchi ?, an alarm cry used by children to warn of the arrival of the Ottoman pirates who raided the cities? coastal areas carrying out the worst barbarities.





2 day

On our second day of vacation we wanted to take a trip to the Alimini Lakes, two lakes that are located north of Otranto and which are connected by a strait. The particularity? of these two lakes? which have two different waters: Alimini Grande has a salinity? equal to that of the sea, surrounded by rocks and Mediterranean scrub, while Alimini Piccolo? freshwater with typically aquatic vegetation. Around the two lakes there is certainly no lack of fauna, I was able to meet a nice snake just arrived in Alimini Grande.
After the fantastic trip to the lakes, apart from the snake, we headed to the Alimini beach. Here? It is necessary to park your vehicle in one of the paid parking lots and then reach the beach on foot or by taking one of the trains (free) that the establishments make available. The Almini beach? really special and vast. It has very light sand and there are many dunes. Walking on the coast you can? also note that at a certain point the beach changes: from the soft sand, rocks and rocks slowly leak out.
The Alimini beach? certainly suitable for families, since? there are many beaches available, organized with entertainment and attractions, but where there is certainly no shortage of free beaches.

3 day

On the third day we decided to go to Torre dell? Orso, one of the most beautiful beaches. popular in Salento. We preferred to go to this beach in the middle of the week to avoid crowding, but my boys the crowd was the same. Although I don't like swarming, Torre dell? Orso? was another of the beaches that I preferred for its white sand, the dunes, but above all for its high cliffs. Bathing in crystal clear waters, swimming alongside this immense rock face, surrounded by fish? an incredible experience. As ? incredible to be able to climb the high cliff and view the surrounding landscape, where? It is possible to observe from another perspective? Le due Sorelle ?, the two stacks, similar and close, that emerge in the middle of the sea.
C ?? an ancient legend linked to these two huge rocks and which explains why? of this name. The epic tells of two sisters who, looking a bit? to cool off after the daily work, they went to the bay of Torre dell? Orso. One of the sisters, fascinated by the crystal clear waters, leaned too far from the cliff and fell inexorably into the water. The other sister, hearing the cries, dove in. in turn, with the hope of being able to save her, but in the end the sea a? even in death. The gods, having compassion for the tragedy that occurred, decided to revive them by transforming them into the two magical stacks.
Towards the afternoon, however, we went to Torre Sant? Andrea, a small bay with high cliffs and numerous stacks. Not there? a sandy beach, but on the other hand you can dive from the high natural rocks (maybe if you buy rock shoes? better) and treat yourself to fantastic swims in the inlets and small caves present. Not to mention the huge arch-shaped stack: swim across it? undoubtedly a unique experience!



4 day

On the fourth day we decide we want to visit a less known beach but still of extraordinary beauty, namely the Fontanella Beach in San Foca. It is located right near the town, next to the marina, and offers an immense sandy beach but also a large number of rocks, where? possible to snorkel. That day there was the north wind and the water was really freezing (and when I say freezing I'm not kidding), so instead? engaging in the observation of the seabed, I dedicated myself to hydrotherapy for my legs, entering and exiting the water.
In the afternoon, unable to stay on the beach due to the strong wind, we decided to visit the Bauxite Quarry. This place ? it was a discovery! It seemed not to be in Puglia but rather? in Australia! If you think the pond? born thanks to the infiltration of water after the abandonment of the quarry in? 76, makes this place even more? extraordinary. There? a contrast of colors between the red of the earth and the rocks, due to the presence of the mineral and the green of the pond and surrounding vegetation. When man and nature get along, unique places are born and the Bauxite quarry ne? definitely an example.
When the evening came, we decided to move away from our Otranto base to return to Lecce. Gi? visited on our previous vacation, this city? ? a riot of art, taste, music, tradition and peoples. What if I had to describe Lecce with just one adjective for me? multicultural. IS? a city? who maintains a strong bond with their origins yet? open to cultural differences without fear, making those who visit it feel a great sense of aggregation. Lecce offers good food (pasticciotti, rustici, taralli and so on and so forth), wonderful monuments (Cathedral of Maria Santissima Assunta, Basilica of Santa Croce, Roman Amphitheater are just a few examples), very rich art (from the Baroque style of churches to papier-mâché processing) and lots of fun.



5 day

The fifth day ? it was a real tour de force. The stages were many and fast, the time for a dip or a visit and off to the next destination.
Who ? been to Santa Maria di Leuca, starting from Otranto or Gallipoli, will understand? when do I say that? It was no longer possible?!?. A truly infinite journey that has certainly increased my desire to see it. After all? the place pi? south of Puglia and the kilometers crossed were worth it. We didn't dive, since the hamlet has a coast characterized by steep rocks but ... don't you want to make a visit at the foot of one of the promontories where the two seas meet? Of course yes! From Punta Ristola you can? see all the magnificence of Santa Maria di Leuca and the immensity? of the sea.
After Santa Maria di Leuca we went to Ponte Ciolo, a 20 meter high bridge where people jump into! A real rush of adrenaline, indeed an authentic act of courage ... which of course I did not have. The particularity? of this place lies precisely in the bridge that overlooks the two precipitous cliffs that makes sure that people who stop can see two extraordinary views. On one side the boundless sea, on the other the Mediterranean scrub that frames the small beach.
Continuing our tour of beaches we went to Marina di Novaglie a locality? marinara of a few houses, surrounded by olive trees and located in an inlet characterized by a low cliff where? a small port has been created. There are numerous natural caves that? possible to patrol and its clear sea allows the exploration of the seabed and especially fishing.
Leaving Marina di Novaglie we arrived in Porto Badisco. This ? the mythological beach described by Virgil in the Aeneid where Aeneas landed? when did he escape? from Troy. Of course ? a legend but this story leaves something mysterious in this place. This small bay with crystal clear waters surrounded by its Regional Natural Park? one of the places that deserves to be visited.
Last stop? was Capo d'Otranto. I have read many posts in which to admire the sunrise at Punta Palasc? A? a unique show. Observe how the first ray of sun is born and shines on the waters of the Adriatic Sea, giving energy to those who see it? certainly something that remains etched in the memories. We, as usual, do things the other way around, that is, we went there at sunset. No, the truth? ? that we were on the road and therefore we decided to stop. However with or without sun, at dawn or at sunset, Capo d? Otranto? unbelievable (apart from the absurd rate of humidity). To see this towering lighthouse that stands on this high cliff and be faced with this immense? d? water getting lost towards the horizon? a panorama that will hardly come? forgotten by me. Are you in the pi? east of Italy, just 70 km from Albania and in the distance, in the best days,? It is also possible to see its coasts, making us understand how today, but already? in the past, has this territory been strongly influenced by different civilizations? who have dominated these shores.

6 day

On the last day of vacation, right on the way back, taking advantage of the first Sunday of the month, in which you enter the museums and monuments for free, we decided to visit Castel del Monte, one of the most beautiful buildings. mysterious and studied of history. Commissioned by Frederick II of Sweden, it is still not clear what use this castle was intended for. Some hypothesized that it was a hunting lodge, others saw in its geometry an astronomical observatory or a mathematical device, but many believed that it was a temple since? it was full of symbolic elements, so much so as to assume that in the past the Holy Grail had been hidden by the Templars.
Castel del Monte to date? still the archaeological site pi? visited in Puglia. The castle, heritage of Unesco, rises on the plateau of the Murge, and? a massive octagonal building with eight towers. This is not? certainly the usual castle we are used to, since? it lacks all those elements that structure it. Not C?? a moat, it does not have surrounding walls, it does not have dungeons and it lacks many other elements. IS? an elegant building, built in stone, with two floors connected by spiral staircases that go counterclockwise. ? was erected so that during the solstices and equinoxes, the sunlight gives information that only the most? learned could interpret. In conclusion ? a castle with a thousand questions to which for? still no one can give an answer.
Our journey ends from Castel del Monte. I apologize for my diary too long, but some things deserve to be written. Puglia, like other regions of Italy,? the example that we live in a truly wonderful country. This region contains art, taste, tradition, entertainment, music and much more. IS? a continuous discovery and deserves to be visited at least once in a lifetime.

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