PUGLIA IN 360°
With wonderful gay beaches around Salento, an incredible scene in Gallipoli and a friendly open welcome elsewhere, Puglia is Italy’s gay summer hotspot. Our region, our home. That’s why we see it in 360°.
Puglia has it all. From dedicated gay beaches to secret, hidden coves. Salento in particular is famous for its beautiful beaches and its hot, summer scene. But be aware. Italians embrace metrosexuality, be it their style or personal grooming. Just don’t mistake it for homosexuality. Sometimes the two coincide, but often not.
Where to stay
Because we live in Puglia we don’t often need to find a place to stay. But it has been known from time to time
Gay beach guide
“I first heard about Puglia when a friend moved there to start a new life with his Italian boyfriend. He reported back that along the glittering southern Italian coast there were dozens of gorgeous beaches for swimming, with clear waters and hot rocks on which to bask after a dip. The wild, rugged beauty of the region was also, he said, a major draw for the Italian gay population, and there was a great scene out there.”
“Off the gaydar”, The Guardian 20 June 2009
Gallipoli is well known as Italy’s gay summer paradise. For many years it has been a major holiday destination for the Italian gay population. A sophisticated gay scene has developed around the southern Salento town and its nearby lidos at Baia Verde.
But with beaches across the region every bit as beautiful as the boys that bathe on them, Gallipoli doesn’t have the monopoly on gay life in Puglia.
Visitors are increasingly drawn by the secluded naturist beaches around the region, most famously at Torre Guaceto and at D’Ayala beach Campomarino. Both have dedicated gay sections.
Long, hot summers, a diverse coastline of sandy beaches punctuated with rocky shelves and coves, surrounded by warm, azure seas and a vibrant nightlife means Puglia draws an international gay crowd over the summer months.
There are spots up and down Puglia’s coast where nude bathing coincides with predominantly, but not exclusively, gay and gay-friendly locals. Pietra Egea lying between Cozze and Polignano a Mare and Torre Incina between Polignano and Monopoli draw people from as far as Bari. The pattern continues all around the region’s coast.
Puglia’s best known gay | naturist beaches are at Torre Guaceto, near Brindisi, which takes a little effort to get to and D’Ayala (Commenda) beach between the villages of Campomarino di Maruggio and Torre Ovo.
In Gallipoli the area immediately north of the bar and lido at Spiaggia G Beach is a popular gay beach destination, especially with visitors. But beware. Following a change of management the G Beach club lido itself is no longer gay-friendly, with two recent reports of homophobic incidents involving same-sex couples being asked to leave because they were kissing.
Our favourite gay friendly lido beach in Gallipoli - where everyone is welcome - is Lido Pôr do Sol at Baia Verde. We go there all summer long.
Spiaggia d’Ayala | Campomarino di Maruggio
D’Ayala beach is located about 1.5km out of Campomarino. It is easily accessed from Commenda and extends to about 1 km of sandy beach protected by maquis scrub peppered sand dunes and a private pine wood, making the beach extremely popular with naturists. The beach has an extensive gay section.
How to get there | Take the SP136 from Maruggio | stay on the SP136 to go into Campomarino or turn right onto the Circumvallazione di Campomarino before reaching Campomarino | in either case turn onto the SP122 | park where you see the cars on the road at Commenda | walk to the beach from the road that is the continuation of the strada Vicinale no.43 - Scorcialupi - Mare | turn left on the beachfront and its 5 minutes to the gay section; you will know it when you see it.
Our opinion | very definitely worth visiting. It is easy to access and very, very popular with the Italian home crowd and visitors. There are no facilities, but it is a short hop into Campomarino for lunch and refreshments. Naturist optional, though the majority observe nudity. The naturist status of the beach has not been officially sanctioned but has been practiced for over 30 years.
Torre Guaceto | Brindisi
Torre Guaceto is a beautiful nature reserve located between Brindisi and Ostuni.
It has long stretches of sand and Puglia’s famous azure-transparent sea. Parts of the coast within the reserve are remote and offer privacy, which is why it is a popular gay | nudist optional beach.
This summer (2020) the cruising areas behind the beach, famously forming 3 “rooms”, have been cut back leaving them open and exposed. Drones have been used to fly over - officially to monitor the swimming ban in the protected reserve, although swimming still takes place.
The gay beach is situated just after the tower heading towards Brindisi, just before in the direction towards Ostuni. The precise co-ordinates are 40°42'44.0"N 17°47'48.6"E
Most guides tell visitors to access the gay beach from the Punta Penna Grossa end of Torre Guaceto (see the link below for parking information) after which it’s a 50-minute walk at least through the reserve in the direction of the tower.
Locally we access it from the Lido Boa Gialla | Lido Parcheggio Torre Guaceto (S.S. 379 Bari-Lecce – Uscita Apani, 72100 Torre Gauceto, Brindisi). Park there and it’s a 10-15 minute walk to the naturist beach. The gay section takes about another 10 minutes to get to.
Discover more | Torre Guaceto Naturist Beach Guide and review | Torre Guaceto main family beach | Torre Pozzelle and Lamaforca gay cruising beaches (by Ostuni) | The Big Gay Naked Podcast from Torre Guaceto.
Pôr do Sol | LED Beach club | Gallipoli
Gallipoli has a well known reputation for being one of Italy’s top gay destinations, drawing a cosmopolitan and sophisticated international gay crowd.
Pôr do Sol is a friendly beach where everyone is welcome. It draws a mixed crowd in every respect. Italians and international visitors, younger and older, friends and couples, gay and straight.
The beach club has a relaxed atmosphere. If you want to kiss your boyfriend or your girlfriend you won’t be asked to leave (unlike another once but no longer gay-friendly lido in Gallipoli - one to be avoided).
Punta della Suina | G Beach | Spiaggia degli Innamorati | Gallipoli
Gallipoli’s most popular gay and naturist bathing areas are found here, in the various coves found along the stretch of coast between the Punta della Suina and the Spiaggia degli Innamorati.
It draws a crowd, intrigued by the reputation. But there is no beach per se. It’s mainly rock and scrub with small, bays dotted along the coast.
A pine forest runs behind the beach.
We did notice that after a few hours people tend to drift back to Baia Verde and Pôr do Sol.
Getting there | from Baia Verde continue by car along the coastal road SP200 / SP 239 | for the spiaggia degli innamorati continue past the Hotel Costa Brada for approximately one km | park on the road wherever you can find a space and turn right into one of the pathways leading into the pine forest | this takes you to to the naturist beach | for Punta della Suina continue along the SP239 until the Punta della Suina sign | turn right into the car park - a €5 flat fee - and walk to the beach.
From Punta della Suina you have to walk for about 10 minutes in the direction of Gallipoli to get to the start of the naturist areas.
G Beach is the public beach at the side of the G Beach lido (the lido itself should be avoided - see below). It’s popular with gay visitors who come for its reputation, rather than the comfort it offers! The waters is amazing, but you will need your ciabatte - rubber soled swimming shoes. The naturist | gay section starts shortly after heading in the direction of Gallipoli towards spiaggia degli innamorati.
One to be avoided | G Beach Club lido. Be warned, while many gay guides still refer to this beach club as a gay destination in Gallipoli, following a management change a few years ago they made it clear that same sex couples will not be welcome, albeit their money is.
Two incidents of homophobia were widely reported.
The rest |
Murgette | Gargano
The Gargano has no shortage of glorious beaches - long sandy stretches of white and golden sand, interrupted by intimate, rocky coves following the stretch of road between Peschici and Rodi.
The coves between Calanella and San Menaio are especially popular with naturists and draw a gay crowd all summer long.
Siponto | Manfredonia
A popular gay-friendly beach is located at the northern most tip of Siponto closest to Manfredonia.
Torre Calderina naturist beach| Molfetta
2020 update coming soon.
Cola Olidda naturist beach | Gavetone
2020 update coming soon.
Boccadoro | BAT
This beach is located between Trani and Barletta. From the SS16 take the Trani Zona Industriale Boccadoro exit. Continue directly to the sea. Busiest times | mornings | afternoons | to and from work | summer season.
Freak Beach | Pietra Egea | Cozze
Situated along the beautiful Costa Ripagnola between Cozze and Polignano a Mare. This section of coast has beautiful trulli, wonderful caves and beautiful blue sea. The naturist beach (mainly rocky shelves) is between Pietra Egea and Cala Capoti, a little beyond Cala Capoti in the direction of Cozze.
How to get there | Exit the SS16 and continue along the complanare | heading south towards Polignano at the Cozze exit | heading north towards Cozze at the Polignano a Mare Nord exit | continue to Cala Fetente where you take the road towards the sea, park and continue by foot.
Torre Incina naturist beach | Monopoli
Located between Polignano and Monopoli the beach (mainly rocky shelves and coves) draws people from as far as Bari. Exit the SS16 at the Monopoli Nord exit, and drive towards the tower, where you can park. The gay / naturist area is on the other side of the tower from the popular Cala Incina beach (i.e. on the left as you face the sea), a short walk from the tower in the direction of Polignano.
There’s a young gay nudist bathing group originating from Bari who meet at Torre Incina at weekends.
Torre Uluzzo | Porto Selvaggio | Nardò
Porto Selvaggio is a nature reserve filled with thick, pine forest, covering an area of 1100 hectares.
The naturist and gay section is located at Grotta del Cavallo a little distance away from the main bay at Spiaggia della Sorgente | Spiaggia di Porto Selvaggio. The main bay does have a couple of concessions selling refreshments and snacks.
Below | The main bay at Spiaggia della Sorgente | Spiaggia di Porto Selvaggio with the Torre dell’Alto behind it.
Above | Grotta del Cavallo with the Torre Uluzzo behind it and the Ficoindia bar.
There are no facilities at the Grotta del Cavallo, and its a rocky bay with jagged rocks into the water - so ciabatte rubber soled sea shoes are a necessity.
Most Italian gay destination guides suggest parking at Torre Uluzzo by the Ficodindia bar and to take the steep path on the far left of the tower down towards the sea to the Grotta del Cavallo.
This is the path that lies to the left of the Baia di Torre Uluzzo on the screen cap above, which take you down to the rocks then you climb back up into the forest. But that’s very hard work, and the path is at times hard to find | follow.
We suggest using parcheggio del curvone car park on the SP286, before Torre Uluzzo. From there it’s a short walk to the navettes that navigate the nature reserve. The navette costs 2€ per person per journey. Take the navette to Grotta del Cavallo. From there it is a much shorter walk to the sea.
Alternatively you can use the car park at the side of the Ficoindia bar. The walk is a little further but on your return you can congregate with the crowd from the gay beach at the Ficodindia bar around sunset.
When we visited in the second week of September however it was closed.
Our opinion | Porto Selvaggio is beautiful. But getting to the gay beach is hard work, and it is some of the rockiest, most jagged coast, with fewer flatter shelves to lie out on comfortably. If you really love nature at its most authentic and a sense of isolation by all means try it out. But if cruising trumps nature, and prefer a more comfortable option, you might have more fun staying in Gallipoli.
Above | 1. The view south from Torre Uluzzo toward Grotta del Cavallo - the bay enclosed by the last area of land you see - with Gallipoli beyond in the distance. 2. The Torre Uluzzo seen from just behind the Grotta del Cavallo. You can see the paths coming down towards the left of the tower (as you look out to sea).
Places to stay
We have visited two contrasting B&Bs either side of Lecce’s old town.
B&B lastminute with modern and contemporary rooms, just a few minutes from Porta Rudiae.
B&B Villa della Lupa in neoclassical style, by the Giardini Pubblici Giuseppe Garibaldi on the other side of Lecce’s centro storico.
Campomarino for Spiaggia d’Ayala
We will soon be visiting Lune Saracene Gay B&B for our end of season visit to Spiaggia d’Ayala. Look out for our review coming soon.