Santa Maria di Leuca
Known for its famous light house, the large Sanctuary, or Basilica, De Finibus Terrae ("End of the Land", 1720-1755), built to commemorate the passage of St. Peter here during his travel to Italy, and its seven architectonically diverse villas built in the 19th century. Furthermore the town is home of the Punta Meliso, traditionally considered the lowest point of the geographical "heel" of the Italian peninsula, as well as the meeting point of the waters from the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea. Furthermore the town has a lively boulevard and marina.
The town was founded by the Greek, who named it Kallipolis, meaning “Beatiful City”. The lively old town is located on an island that is connected to the main land by a bridge that was built in the 16th century. In the old town you can wander the labyrinth of small streets, full of cosy bars, restaurants of all kinds, many shops with local products, souvenirs and small art galleries. In the heart of the old town, you find the Baroque cathedral of “Sant’Agata” (17th century). It has a richly decorated facade in “Carparo”, a local limestone rock, with niches featuring statues of saints.
In the early evening, when the fishermen just came back from the sea, you can enjoy a delicious appetizer of fresh seafood with all sorts of clams, mussels and shrimps in the port of the old town.
The town is located on the eastern coast of Salento on the Adriatic sea, and is the most easterly point of the Italian mainland. The old town is surrounded by impressive city walls that can be climbed and walked on to enjoy nice views over the city and the marina, which with its crystal clear and shallow water is also a popular place for the locals to go swimming on the many sunny days. The old town is very well preserved, with beautiful facades, churches and squares filled with restaurants, bars and shops.
Lecce is the capital of the province of Lecce, located in the heart of Salento, and it is by far the regions largest city.
Because of the rich Baroque architectural monuments found in the city, Lecce is commonly nicknamed "The Florence of the South". The city also has a long traditional affinity with Greek culture going back to its foundation; the Messapii who founded the city are said to have been Cretans in Greek records. To this day, in the Grecìa Salentina, a group of towns not far from Lecce, the “Griko” language is still spoken.
Lecce’s precious city centre is definitely worth a visit, especially in the evening when the facades are beautifully lighted by the yellowish street lights of the city, creating a fairy tail like atmosphere.
Because of its large student population, the city is very lively and especially in the summer hosts many outdoor festivals and concerts.