Written by Julia in Puglia,
8th February 2022

Whether you’re moving there full time, planning to open a business or just want a holiday home somewhere sunny, accessible and Italian, you’ll love Salento. Here’s the what, where and why of buying a home in Salento.

The Salento peninsula is lapped to the north by the Adriatic Sea and to the south by the Ionian Sea. These sparkling clear waters then blend into the Mediterranean. It’s a holiday home paradise.

Forming the elegant high heel of Italy’s ‘boot’, Salento is the peninsula section of the Puglia region.

The great thing about a peninsula is that it feels like you are on an island, without the hassle of getting a ferry. You are never more than 30 minutes drive from the sea, and what an amazing sea and coastline it has, with white rocks, caves, bays and long sandy beaches.

Find homes in Salento via our property portal.

Sunny Salento

Salento has flatter land than northern Puglia, so those refreshing sea breezes often blow any rain clouds up the coast to the hills further north. Summers are long and hot, averaging around 35°C in July and August. Even in May, June and September temperatures are in the high 20s.

Spring is the most beautiful season, with spring flowers in the orchards and meadows and even on the sand dunes.

In the winter it’s generally around 15°C during the day, but nights can get very cold. In January you can get all the seasons in one week, from sunshine to cold winds, and on very rare occasions snow. Spring is the most beautiful season with spring flowers in the orchards, fields and even on the sand dunes.

Greek influence

If you’re still wondering whether you prefer Greece or Italy, buying a home in Salento means you’ll get a bit of both (but a much easier language to learn, and easier to reach all year).

Many village communities still have remnants of an ancient Greek civilization, known as the Griko people. Beginning in the 5th century, Salento belonged to Magna Grecia and so culturally and linguistically was influenced more by Greece than Rome. Greek architecture, art and music influences have become a part of Italian culture in this area, which is sometimes referred to as Grecia Salentina.

Explore the rocks and caves of Salento

Along the Adriatic coast there are beautiful rock formations and caves, to discover. Near Melendugno you can dive into the Grotta della Poesia (Cave of poetry) and swim around the stacks. Santa Cesarea Terme is most famous for its thermal treatments, but it also has beautiful rock formations where you can swim in the sea or in man-made pools on the water’s edge.

Torre Sant' Andrea, Salento coast, Puglia region, Italy

Torre Sant’ Andrea on the Salento coast.

Around Otranto nature continues to amaze with white rocks weathered into arches, caves, stacks and coves. An enchanting place is the emerald green lake surrounded by fiery red rock and Mediterranean scrub, once a bauxite quarry.

On the Ionion coast great fun can be had kayaking around the bays and caves of Porto Selvaggio. Near Gallipoli there is a large cave of about 40 metres, called the Dragon cave due to a stalactite that supposedly resembles a dragon.

Salento Beaches

If you love relaxing on a sandy beach, then Salento is the place for you. There are so many beautiful beaches to choose from. Some are close to vibrant tourist towns, such as Gallipoli and Otranto, while others have a natural back drop of sand dunes, rocks and pine forests. Many of which have been compared to the Caribbean.

As Italian’s traditionally go on holiday between mid July and the end of August, the popular beaches can get busy then. However, either side of those dates when the weather is still gorgeous, it’s not unusual to find a long stretch of sand to yourself.

5 beaches along the Salento coast:

  1. Our favourite beaches lie along the coast either side of the small town of Porto Cesareo. There are long stretches of sandy beach. Particularly noteworthy is Punta Prosciutto, a “wild” beach characterized by sand dunes and turquoise water.
  2. Torre dell’Orso (Melendugno) is a bay of white sand and crystal clear water, surrounded by Mediterranean scrub.
  3. Alimini (Otranto) is a long and wide coast of white sand and very clear sea, separated from the road by a fresh pine forest. The Baia dei Turchi is only accessible on foot.
  4. Pescoluse (Marina di Salve) has very fine white sand, shallow waters, with transparent water.
  5. Torre San Giovanni (Marina di Ugento): Carribean-style beach with white sand and turquoise coloured water.

 

Punta Prosciutto is a wonderful stretch of Salento coast, part of the Municipality of Porto Cesareo, Puglia region, South Italy. long and unspoiled beach. Drone photo

Punta Prosciutto, “our favourite beach”

Towns of Salento

Salento is a place where you will want to hire a car or boat and go off exploring the coastline and villages. Where ever you visit you will get a warm welcome and good fresh food. There are seaside apartments, palazzi, countryside masserie and holiday villas for sale  and rent in Salento,  and indeed all across the sunny region of Puglia. 

The names of the towns at the top of Salento are well known to visitors to Puglia: Brindisi, Ostuni, Oria, Grottaglie and Taranto. Many foreign house buyers search for countryside villas in the Itria Valley, with its rolling hills. They often don’t venture further south, while the Italian tourists head straight to the Salento coast, where all the best beaches are. Here are seven Salento towns you should add to your viewing list. However, I’m sure you will discover more.

1. Lecce

Dawn in Lecce, and the start of another beautiful day in Salento

Dawn in Lecce, and the start of another beautiful day

Lecce is the main provincial town in Salento and is centrally located. Often complimented as the “Florence of the south”, Lecce is one of the finest examples of the Italian Baroque style. As you wander the historic streets there are beautiful scenic corners at every turn. Most evident in the facades of the churches, town gates, and Palazzo houses once owned by noble families.

The warm sandy colours of the Lecce stone are elegantly carved. The ornate stone carvings on the façade of La Basilica Santa Croce are particularly exquisite. In the main piazza you can also the remains of a roman amphitheatre and nearby there is the large castle of Carlo V.

The city centre’s old streets are now home to many little restaurants, bars and bakeries, where you can try local specialties. There is also a newer part of the town with shops, schools, universities, a hospital and everything you need for year-round living.

The elegant palazzo houses with their star vaulted ceilings are still home to prosperous families or have been converted into holiday accommodation. Some examples of Palazzi for sale are on the Italy Property Guides search page. You can find beautiful apartments and houses for sale in Lecce, some with vaulted ceilings and roof terraces.

2. Gallipoli

picturesque buildings of the ancient village of Gallipoli in Italy

Life in Gallipoli

The historic centre of Gallipoli is located on an offshore island reached by a low 17th century road bridge. The heart of Gallipoli is home to numerous impressive Baroque churches and aristocratic palazzi, a testament to the town’s former wealth as a trading port. It’s a delight walk around the narrow streets, enjoying the sea views from the fortified outer walls. The east side is dominated by a robust fortress dating back to the 13th century, but largely rebuilt in the 1500s when the town fell under Angevin control.

There is everything you want from an Italian holiday town, with a good selection of bars, restaurants, trattoria and pizzerias. The coastline north and south of Gallipoli boast a series of long sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. La Spiaggia della Purita, is an attraction in its own right. A large apartment in Gallipoli not far from the sea can cost around €230,000

3. Otranto

Otranto’s sea front is teaming with tourists in the summer, sunbathing, strolling along the promenade, and dining at the waterfront restaurants. The narrow back streets offer some welcome  shade for those who enjoy wandering around the gift shops and eating a gelato.

There are some interesting sights to see too. Most dominant is the Aragenese castle, with it’s thick defensive walls. Built between 1485 and 1498 by Alfonso of Aragon it is has a succession of halls, galleries, tunnels and large terraces overlooking the sea. During the summer, its rooms host exhibitions and you can explore the tunnels.

In the towns cathedral it isn’t the columns people look at with the most amazement, or even the mosaic floor depicting scenes from the Old Testament, including fabled animals such as unicorns. What everyone is stunned by is the three glass cabinets full of the skulls of 800 martyrs who were murdered by invading Turks in 15th century. An apartment in Otranto costs from around €200,000.

Olive trees on a grove in Salento, Puglia Region, South Italy. Traditional plantation of olive trees in summer sunny day, natural light, copy space, beautiful apulian background, selective focus

Countryside in Salento

4. Porto Cesareo

Porto Cesareo is located on the Ionian sea, on a stretch of coastline famous for its beautiful beaches. Dotted a long the coast you will see stone look out towers (torre) built to protect the coast from Saracen attacks. Good examples are Torre Cesarea, Torre Chianca, Torre Lapillo and Torre Colimeno. There is also a “Torre” at the point of Porto Cesareo, near the port and cafes. Nearby you can see the fishermen bringing in their catch, and enjoy a seafood dinner at a waterfront restaurant.

5. Nardo

Slightly off the beaten track is the charming village of Nardo. This is quiet, authentic and friendly Salento at its best. At the heart of the village is the beautiful Piazza Salandra, where everyone meets in the evening to socialise, enjoy an aperitif or a gelato. At a local Tratorria you can enjoy typical dishes of the Salento region using fresh produce and local wine.

If the name Nardo rings a bell, it may be because in a previous article Opening a B&B in Italy, Nardo was where Darrell and Debbie from Lincolnshire had chosen to open a bed and breakfast at Palazzo Cariddi. So if you are in the area check out their accommodation and see how they are doing.

6. Santa Cesarea Terme

Santa Cesarea Terme - Salento Apulia region - Lecce province - south Italy

Santa Cesarea Terme

Santa Cesarea Terme has some of the best panoramic sea views in Salento. Combine views, history, great food and charming streets and you have a gorgeous location to spend time relaxing. Since the discovery of the beneficial properties of high-temperature sulfur springs, Santa Cesarea has become an up market spa town. Over the years magnificent liberty neoclassic style villas, Palazzos and extravagant summer residences have extended the town with elegant avenues. While the heart of the town has developed with fashionable hotels and accommodations for tourists. You can also find sea view apartments for sale.

Some of the more indulgent residences were designed and constructed in incredible styles you would not expect in Italy. Such as the magnificent Palazzo Sticchi, hanging from the cliff face and whose Moorish architecture stuns all who see it, and Villa Raffaella now converted to luxurious apartments. The seafront promenades throng with cafes and small shops, pizzerias and restaurants, where it is possible to sip coffee or dine al-fresco on the sea view terraces. Gelaterias serve a wonderful selection of gelato, in a huge array of flavours and colours.

7. Castro

A home in Castro

A home in Castro (LauraVl / Shutterstock.com)

Only seven kilometres south of Santa Cesarea Terme, Castro is a town perched on a cliff overlooking the Adriatic. It boasts ancient origins being heir to the Roman Castrum Minervae. The 12th century church still retains part of the original Romanesque façade and the remains of a small Byzantine church from the 10th century.

Above, the village, Piazza Armando Perotti has views of the sea and the Aragonese castle. Today it is the hub of cultural initiatives. The castle and fortifications tell us about the Saracen attacks, one of the causes of the depopulation over the past centuries.

The village has many small white washed houses and churches. In the port and marine area you’ll  see fishing boats and the most skilled swimmers diving of the rocks into the deep blue waters. Sea view apartments sell from about €200,000, like this one with vaulted ceilings and a sea view terrace.

How to get to Salento

On the Adriatic coast at the top of Salento you will find a bright modern airport at Brindisi. International flights arrive here all year round, with the number of operators increasing in the summer months. You can also get internal flights from other Italian cities, such as Rome and Milan.

There is a big selection of car hire companies at the airport and over the summer there are buses to tourist towns in Salento. Drive time from Brindisi airport to Lecce is about 40 minutes.

Lecce also has a train station. The train journey from Brindisi central to Lecce takes less than 30 minutes and costs about €3. From the airport you would need to take a bus or taxi into the train station first.

Salento

Lecce

Otranto

Nardo

Gallipoli

Castro, Salento

Porto Cesareo

Santa Cesarea Terme

Torre San Giovanni

Pescoluse beach

Alimini beach

Torre dell’Orso

Punta Prosciutto

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