The best routes in Salento: trekking, walking, cycling, motorbike or other First itinerary: Otranto - Santa Maria di Leuca coast road

The recent success of Salento as a tourist destination is mainly due to the splendor of its coast and the beauty of the capital Lecce, but there is much more to discover: archaeological, naturalistic, landscape and food and wine treasures are widespread throughout the Salento peninsula. A great way to discover them all is to pack your backpack and set off on an adventure, along itineraries, to be covered on foot, by bike, by motorbike or by car, which are a journey in stages between the pleasures of nature, food, culture and local history, let's see some of them in this and in the next posts on our blog.

We begin our journey by car or motorbike, on the magnificent coast road Otranto - Santa Maria di Leuca, undoubtedly one of the most fascinating tours of Salento, as well as one of the most beautiful panoramic roads in Italy. While skirting the Adriatic, the jewels of the Salento coast follow one after the other: on one side the cliffs overlooking the sea, the ancient defense towers, the caves and inlets, on the other side the centuries-old olive trees, the typical dry stone walls, many small town halls rich in history and artistic beauties, with their bars overlooking the historic centers, where you can stop to cool off with a pasticciotto and an ice coffee.

It starts from Otranto, after visiting the city center and walking on the ramparts, continue towards the south and entering the vegetation you can admire an unusual sight: an emerald green lake in a hollow of the intense red soil, surrounded by the green of the marsh vegetation, the result of a disused bauxite quarry where nature has magically created a new ecosystem. A few kilometers and another spectacle awaits us, the Punta Palascia Lighthouse, the easternmost place in Italy, from which you can admire a breathtaking panorama. Continuing to drive always keeping the sea on the left, we continue to admire the ever new views that the cliff and the vegetation create at every turn. A few more kilometers and we arrive in Porto Badisco, where we can admire the bay (one of Enea's possible first landings in Italy) and, if the season permits, indulge in an unmissable lunch based on the freshest sea urchins. After this tasty lunch break we leave again, we cross the pretty Santa Cesarea Terme, which, as the name suggests, is also a renowned spa. Immediately behind Santa Cesarea, we find the beauty of Porto Miggiano, a rocky cove with a sandy bottom, located in an inlet overlooking the sea, protected by an ancient watchtower, it is one of the most spectacular beaches of the Puglia, sheltered from the winds; the natural play of lights, colors and the turquoise sea make it the ideal place for snorkeling. We still follow the road and we find the suggestive Zinzulusa cave, created in prehistoric times by marine erosion, is a spectacle of stalactites and stalagmites that are reflected in the turquoise water inside a majestic cavity. We continue through Castro and from here we reach the marina of Marittima, where there is another beautiful inlet, that of Acquaviva, so called because of the cold water springs that flow from the rock. Immediately after there is the marina of Andrano, with the unmissable seaside resorts, such as the Green Grotto, after that there is the splendid Tricase Porto, one of the most evocative and elegant holiday resorts of the entire eastern coast of Puglia. Here we can choose whether to continue along the sea or to allow ourselves a detour towards the interior of the territory, where there are many municipalities that are certainly worth a visit, such as Specchia, surrounded by centuries-old olive trees, and recently inserted among the most beautiful villages in Italy. Among pretty alleys and stairways stand out the sixteenth-century Risolo palace and the fifteenth-century cathedral in Piazza del Popolo; not far away the Baronial Palace, the Byzantine Church of Santa Eufemia and that of the Black Franciscans, adorned with valuable frescoes. It is also worth giving yourself a visit to the ancient underground oil mills of the town, restored and open to the public, where you can often and willingly also make deserving tastings of local products.
If, on the other hand, we have chosen to continue along the coast, the last kilometers of the coastal road start from Marina Serra, to the end of the earth, in the middle of the Ciolo bridge, which dominates one of the most loved and photographed inlets of the entire Salento coast.
The time for a last look at the enchanting coast of Salento and we arrived in Santa Maria di Leuca: in front of us all that remains is the blue of the sea.
We visit the Sanctuary on the promontory, the very high lighthouse, the aqueduct waterfall and the eclectic style villas, built by local nobles in a competition of luxury and eccentricity. Time to have dinner and we can enjoy the night on the bustling promenade.