The Ottavopino B&B would like to offer its guests some advice for getting the most out of their stay in the Salento.
Known as “the Florence of the South”, Lecce is one of the most beautiful cities in the South of Italy, famous for its elegant and refined Baroque architecture. Its rich heritage of buildings and monuments draw inspiration from the city’s ancient Messapian origins and the archaeological remains of the Roman era.
The streets of this small city are like an open-air museum and the route we propose includes many items you won’t want to miss.
A short walk away from the B&B along Via Salvatore Trinchese, Piazza Sant’Oronzo marks the entrance to the old town. It has characteristic mosaic paving, at the centre of which is the city’s coat of arms featuring a she-wolf (“Lupa”) and a holm-oak tree (“Leccio”) crowned by five Towers. It is from these symbolic elements that the city’s names – Lupiae in Roman times and Lecce today – are derived.
The Piazza also contains the Roman Amphitheatre, the most significant structure dating from the Roman era, next to which is the Roman column topped by the bronze statue of the city’s Patron Saint, after whom the Piazza is named.
Dominating the piazza with its renaissance elegance is the “Sedile”, the ex seat of government in the city, now used for art exhibitions.
The numerous Baroque buildings include the Basilica di Santa Croce with the adjacent Convento dei Celestini, as well as the Churches of San Matteo, Sant’Irene, “del Gesù” (with its beautiful altars), San Giovanni Battista and Sant’Angelo.
Make sure you visit the splendid Piazza Duomo, one of the most extraordinary piazzas in the Mediterranean, with the Duomo (cathedral), Campanile (bell tower), Palazzo Vescovile (bishop’s palace) and Seminario (seminary), all built from the local stone known as “Pietra Leccese”. With its pale golden colours, this soft stone lends itself to intricate carvings that are seen on buildings of all kinds, making the city’s architecture truly unique.
No tour of Lecce would be complete without a visit to its museums and art galleries, including the Sigismondo Castromediano Provincial Archaeological Museum with exhibits from the Roman and Messapian epochs, the Pinacoteca (gallery) d’Arte Francescana, housed in the Palazzo Fulgenzio, and the Museum of the Roman Theatre.
Lecce also offers a broad range of entertainment options including music and theatre. The city has a rich night-life, driven mostly by the young people who attend the local university. In the evening the streets of the old town come alive, particularly around Santa Croce and the Duomo, with crowds of people frequenting the pubs, clubs and sandwich bars. Thanks to the mild climate, this “movida” continues right through winter. This “food and fun” itinerary really does have something for everyone.
Lecce has an ancient culinary tradition. Recommended local snacks include the pasticciotto, a sweet best eaten hot; the rustico, two disks of flaky pastry filled with mozzarella, tomato, béchamel, pepper and nutmeg; and the puccia, bread made from durum wheat filled with olives, capers and other local ingredients. Nor should you neglect our most famous wines, including Negramaro, Primitivo di Manduria, Malvasia, Salice Salentino and Five Roses by the Leone De Castris winery, the first ever rosé bottled in Italy.
The Ottavopino B&B will welcome you in the traditional “Mediterranean” spirit, and our warmth and hospitality will make you feel at home, however far you have travelled to be here.
A discovery tour of the Salento begins in Otranto, near the most easterly point of the Italian mainland. This small town, with its whitewashed houses and stone-flagged streets, is enclosed by Aragonese walls on one side and the Adriatic sea on the other.
At the heart of the beautiful and ancient old town stands the Cathedral, famous for its floor mosaic showing the Tree of Life and the cabinets containing the bones of the Martyrs of Otranto, who were killed for refusing to convert to Islam during the city’s brief occupation by the Ottoman Turks.
The Aragonese castle, a fortress embedded in the defensive walls, is now used for exhibitions.
The streets of Otranto are home to a multitude of elegant and distinctive boutiques selling all kinds of craft products.
A short distance from Otranto is the splendid beach known as the Baia dei Turchi (“Turks’ Bay”). Bordered by lush Mediterranean vegetation stretching to the Alimini lakes, it boasts white sand, ochre-coloured rocks and crystal-clear waters.
We can help our guests plan a sailing trip so they can view Otranto in all its glory from the sea.
Gallipoli, known as the “Pearl of the Salento” is perhaps the peninsula’s most popular resort, the ideal place for holidaymakers seeking to combine culture and fun.
Built on an island, the old town is surrounded by defensive walls, embedded in which is the imposing Aragonese Castle. A 17th century bridge links it to the modern city, known as “il Borgo”, which was built in the late 19th century.
The old town is known for its beautiful churches, palazzi and historic houses, and for the craft boutiques that line the narrow streets.
An established tourism destination, in recent years it has become one of the most popular locations in the Mediterranean, thanks to the evocative old town, with its intricate labyrinth of winding streets, courtyards, churches and palazzi, the exciting night-life and the superb beaches nearby.
South of Gallipoli, a broad bay stretches to Punta Pizzo, with numerous lidos offering all kinds of entertainment, music, sport and more.
For those who like peace and quiet and nature in its pure state, we recommend Punta della Suina, a marvellous sandy bay with stretches of Mediterranean maquis vegetation and Aleppo pines, situated within the Punta Pizzo Park.
SANTA MARIA DI LEUCA
From Gallipoli it is a short distance to Santa Maria di Leuca, at the cape of the Salento peninsula, called “finibus terrae”, i.e. “Land’s end”. From here the visitor can enjoy the spectacular view across the sea towards Greece, with a myriad of boats bobbing on the waves in the dazzling sunlight.
Leuca bears the indelible traces of numerous epochs, and visitors can explore its fascinating history.
North of Leuca is the famous Caletta del Ciolo, a small steep-side inlet crossed by a high bridge. The feature is named after the Ciolo marine cave, which is visible only from the sea.
The Ponte del Ciolo is a favourite destination for tourists who love nature and activities such as climbing on the sea cliffs, and the path leading down to the inlet is also a superb hiking route.