Bitesize Puglia #1


Wherever your base yourself Puglia is eminently navigable - especially with with your own transport. Our contributors know all the special and lesser-known destinations that you will find within easy reach. Whether you take a day trip or two, or embark upon a mini-road trip, take it slow just like we do. Our Puglia. Our home.

Marina Serra

A wonderful place to watch the early morning sunrise over the Adriatic while taking a swim in the piscina naturale.

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A place to bask in the golden glow of the setting sun as it sinks into the Ionian. Especially from one of the lido clubs, aperitivo in hand!

Santa Maria di Leuca

Leuca offers a rare spectacle. From the same spot you can watch the sunrise over the Adriatic and at the end of the day disappear into the Ionian.

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 Bitesize Puglia - un boccone della Puglia

You may still be planning your trip to Puglia. Or you have already arrived (Big Puglia where to stay FAQ). After a few days relaxing on the beach now it’s time to discover the diversity Puglia has to offer.

There really is much more to our home than the Valle d’Itria often recommended by those who have yet to discover the rest of our region.

For them and for you we offer “boccone della Puglia” - bitesize pieces of Puglia put together to make so much more of your stay with us.


Distance | 35 km

An absolute highlight. The route along the coast is one of the most dramatic in Puglia. But this is not the Amalfi. The drive is leisurely, the pace easy.

Our preferred starting point is Santa Cesarea Terme. If you find yourself short of time start at Castro.

Hugging the SP358 through Castro, Porto Tricase (where a one way system will divert you away from the coast; just follow it - you will return) and by Marina Serra until the lighthouse at Leuca announces your arrival. Continue to the lungomare. The old port and the art nouveau villas that line the seafront open up along the way.

Lidos sit on wooden platforms along Leuca’s lungomare. Be sure to take some ciabatte - rubber soled shoes - for swimming. These are a necessity for taking to the crystal clear waters lapping over jagged rocks peppered with sea urchins, whose spines present another hazard to the bare footed.

Grab some frittura at Lido AlbaChiara. There you can enjoy the view over the azure waters while watching local teenagers snorkelling for urchin and polpo to be served at the next meal.

That’s the thing about Santa Maria di Leuca. It all comes back to the sea.

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Getting to Santa Cesarea Terme from | Otranto 16 km | Lecce  50 km | Gallipoli 50 km | Ostuni 130 km.

With extra toppings

The drive itself is only 50 minutes, but we prefer to amble and explore along the way.

Sitting on a plateau that plunges into the sea Santa Cesarea Terme will remind you of Polignano a Mare. Bathe in the thermal waters, or enjoy the north African ambiance of the Palazzo Sticchi.

Buy the freshest street food in Castro. Locally caught fried fish from the friggitorie, served up in cartoccio accompanied by a small bottle of chilled white or rosé wine. Perched on cliffs 100m above the sea Castro is Puglia’s balcony over the Adriatic.

Stop off for a coffee at Porto Tricase. Watch the bathers taking a cooling dip in the green waters of the small beach at the little harbour, home to the town’s fishing boats.

Caletta del Ciolo some 8km before Leuca is a coastal ravine for hiking, cliff-diving and swimming with scenic views from the bridge over the canyon.

Supersize me

Instead of a day trip, spread this over two days.

Stay the night in Marina Serra. This allows an evening detour to nearby Tricase for a pre-dinner aperitivo at Farmacia Balboa. The old town pharmacy sits on a small piazza and has been sympathetically transformed into a cool cocktail bar retaining many original features. Its co-owner Dame Helen Mirren has a summer house in the neighbouring town of Tiggiano.

A couple of doors down is the Castel di Salve wine shop (their winery/cantina is in the wonderfully named neighbouring town on the other side - Depressa; though we are sure it’s not at all). They have great locally produced wines that taste of the Salento sun. Nothing brings a smile to our face like buying a 15 litre box of their Santi Medici Rosso negroamaro to take home.

For dinner Locanda Del Levante around the corner is our choice.

Be sure to get up in time to watch the sun rise over the rocky shelves that surround Marina Serra’s swimming basin along with the locals taking their daily early morning constitutional.


Santa Cesarea Terme

Bathe in the thermal waters, or enjoy the north African ambiance of the Palazzo Sticchi.

Located south of Otranto, about 35 km (21 miles) from Lecce, Santa Cesarea Terme overlooks the Adriatic atop a plateau that plummets dramatically into the sea.

Santa Maria di Leuca

In certain conditions the physical border where the Adriatic and Ionian seas meet can be seen from the swell of colour (due to the meeting between the currents coming from the Gulf of Taranto and those of the  Canale d'Otranto).

Tricase Porto

Lu Portu in Salento dialect has approximately 269 inhabitants. The port dates back to the 15th century. Enjoy a swim and some sun before a freshly cooked catch of the day lunch at Bolina Restaurant.

 Coming next ...

We head north to the Gargano. Situated within the spur of Italy’s boot, it’s a huge forest, with a stunning coast, amazing beaches and the trabucco. Fishing structures resembling steam punk North Sea oil rigs.

There really is much more to our home than the Valle d’Itria often recommended by those who have yet to discover the rest of our region.


The endless olive groves stretching as far as the eye can see and clusters of trulli are both reasons to visit the Valle d’Itria. Indeed, no trip to Puglia would be complete without visiting Polignano a Mare, eating seafood by the old port in Monopoli and exploring the trulli. But even with a dash of Lecce and shot of Otranto you would still be experiencing what most of Puglia’s visitors experience. And while the Valle d’Itria may draw the majority of Puglia’s visitors, it’s Salento that puts the “extra” into extraordinary.

"We are in Puglia."

~ Dame Shirley Bassey