I only heard about Puglia after scrolling through websites to find the cheapest flight to somewhere with sunshine. Puglia is what we’d describe as the heel of the boot which is Italy. Salento is the Southern part of that region. The strange thing that I’ve found is that barely any of my UK friends have heard of Puglia, let alone Salento. Now that Ryanair fly there, I think that things may change.
Here are 5 reasons we should, or perhaps should not, be telling our friends about this hidden gem.
The water is perfect, cool enough to refresh you from the constant heat, clear enough to see the white sand beneath and silky enough to feel like you’re entering into a dreamworld. There is every type of beach you could ever want; grottos with turquoise waters; White sandy beaches that stretch on for an eternity with crystal clear water; rocky areas to scuba dive; Rocks and Piers to jump into the deep blue sea for a thrill. For all the geography nerds out there, if you visit Leuca the Adriatic and Ionian seas meet and at certain times it has been known to be able to distinguish between the two.
In the vast majority of the areas we visited within Salento, the locals weren’t accustomed to meeting many english speaking tourists. Most of visitors that we came across were Italians from the bigger cities. Due to there being so few foreigners most of the locals could not really speak English. Despite this, we never had a problem. People would always have time to stop and help you or just smile at you and continue to have a friendly sounding Italian conversation with you.
If you have a car, it is possible to do a mini road trip of the region. Salento is stunning. Filled with little stereotypical rustic little towns. You’ll always find a church in the heart of the town. vintage fiat 500s and various other vintage Italian cars are driven around. My favourote vehicle to see on the road was the 3 wheeler piaggio’s driven by all of the farmers. Drive anywhere and you’ll find something interesting – an old castle, a religious festival, a cute coffee bar – The simple things were usually the most beautiful.
You can expect all of the fruit and veg to be fresh, ripe and tasty. All of the restaurants will be using goods that are in season and produced locally. Pasta shells, made in the nearby village and fish caught on the same day – Delicious!
Because there are very few foreign tourists, Salento wasn’t overcrowded. There are certain beaches and areas that are in high demand, especially in August. But most places are sleepy and traditional. Siestas are very much a factor to take into consideration. This being said, there are plenty of bars, beach parties and festivals to keep you entertained. Whilst we were visiting, the light festival of Santa Domenica took place. Huge structures dotted with lights were erected to create an awesome light show accompanied by music. We had no idea what was really going on, but it was so cool.