Bitesize Puglia #1

Marina Serra. The Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to Puglia. Gay travel guides to Puglia, Italy.

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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Castro Marina, Salento, Puglia. The Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to Puglia. Gay travel guides to Puglia, Italy.

Castro Marina

A place to bask in the sun. Popular, picturesque and a local favorite.

Santa Maria di Leuca, Salento’s hidden gem. The Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to Puglia. Gay travel guides to Puglia, Italy.

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.

Salento, the southern part of Italy’s heel, offers sun, saints, olives and wineries galore.

Best gay and nudist beach, Puglia. The Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to Puglia. Gay travel guides to Puglia, Italy.
Santa Cesarea Terme. The Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to Puglia. Gay travel guides and city guides to Puglia, Italy. Travel inspiration.
Gallipoli, gay beach, gay bars. The Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to Puglia. Gay travel guides and city guides to Puglia, Italy. Travel inspiration.

OTRANTO | SANTA CESAREA TERME

Distance | 18 km

We write about Otranto elsewhere.

Head south via the bauxite cave (la cava di bauxite), less than a 10 minute drive from the centre of Otranto.

A disused quarry and man made lake (bauxite is the main source of aluminium) returned to nature, creating a vividly coloured landscape of emerald green lake and ferrous red soil, framed by the glorious green trees and Puglia’s endless blue sky.

Park in the nearby car park (3€ fee) it is a short walk of a few minutes along a defined path to the bauxite quarry. The morning and late afternoon sun best compliments the colours.

Look out for the nearby Torre del Serpente, the symbol of Otranto. If the weather conditions are clear you can see Albania on the other side of the Adriatic.

On the road again, further along the coast is the Faro di Punta Palascìa lighthouse, a remote 19th-century lighthouse that marks Italy’s most easternmost point.

7.5km north of Santa Cesarea Terme is Porto Badisco.

The azure blue sea at Porto Otranto, Salento. Photo by The Big Gay Podcast from Puglia. Inclusive and gay travel guides to Puglia, Italy.

Otranto

Otranto’s bauxite cave, Salento. Photo by The Big Gay Podcast from Puglia. Inclusive and gay travel guides to Puglia, Italy.

La cava di bauxite, Otranto

Santa Cesarea Terme. The Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to Puglia. Gay travel guides and city guides to Puglia, Italy. Travel inspiration.

Santa Cesarea Terme

SANTA CESAREA TERME | SANTA MARIA DI LEUCA

Distance | 35 km

An absolute highlight. The route along the coast is one of the most dramatic in Puglia, sandwiched between prickly pear lined cliffs and shimmering sea. This is not the Amalfi. The drive is leisurely, the pace easy.

Hugging the SP358 through Castro (during the summer peak traffic is diverted south of Castro to Marittima and back out at Cala dell’Acquaviva), Porto Tricase (where another one way system will divert you away from the coast towards Tricase ; just follow it - you will return) and by Marina Serra and il Ciolo 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 18 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.

At peak summer traffic is diverted south of Castro to Marittima, brining you back out at Cala dell’Acquaviva, a picturesque secret bathing spot.

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. Parking can be challenging, and the bathing space is limited, but the views are stunning. Another of Salento’s secret swimming places.

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.

Cala dell’Acquaviva, one of Puglia’s secret swimming spots. Photo The Big Gay Podcast from Puglia, inclusive and gay travel guides to Puglia

Cala dell’Acquaviva

Il Ciolo, Gagliano del Capo

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.

MoreCan I cycle 200 miles around Puglia in six days? I can on an e-bikeThe Guardian, April 2022. Liz Boulter’s trip around Salento, from Otranto, to Leuca and to Gallipoli | our visit to Otranto - porto d’amore |  our city guide to Lecce.

 

Santa Cesarea Terme, Salento. The Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to Puglia. Gay travel guides and city guides to Puglia, Italy. Travel inspiration. Best food and restaurants, Puglia.

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, Salento. The Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to Puglia. Gay travel guides and city guides to Puglia, Italy. Travel inspiration. Best food and restaurants, Puglia.

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.

Sexy Italian boy shows armpit at Pizzomunno beach, Vieste. The Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to Puglia. Gay travel guides and city guides to Puglia, Italy. Travel inspiration. Best gay and nudist beaches, Puglia.
Amazing seafood at Al Trabucco di Mimì, Peschici, Gargano. The Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to Puglia. Gay travel guides and city guides to Puglia, Italy. Travel inspiration. Best food and restaurants, Puglia.
Al Trabucco di Mimì, Peschici, Gargano. The Big Gay Podcast from Puglia guides to Puglia. Gay travel guides and city guides to Puglia, Italy. Travel inspiration. Best food and restaurants, Puglia.

GO DEEPLY INTO PUGLIA

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