Veganism if pretty strong in Italy, but surprisingly, as far as we know, down here in Lecce a fully vegan eatery doesn’t yet exist. Strange for a place aiming at global tourism, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find that vegetables are so common in our diet that we just take it for granted… we eat them fresh, every day from the day we were born.
It is normal for most of us to get fruit and veg from our trusted farmer, that’s if we don’t already pick them ourselves at our own land somewhere in the province. Everywhere you dine here, you will always get something to please your vegan taste buds; most places pay particular attention to organic farming and healthy cooking, even if they are not openly vegan they will most likely be affectionate verdure lovers.
Here are a few, which we believe offer a delectable overview of how blessed this land is when it comes to generous Mother Nature.
Agriturismo Da Marta, Le Orte (Otranto)
Mrs. Marta is a local woman of unknown age, but all we need to know is that her recipes taste like they are from a different era. She grows all kinds of veg by herself here, everything is strictly organic and the way she cook it is simply astonishing. Authenticity lives here, not only with the food, but for the whole green environment. She herself will happily guide you through her garden to taste her wild herbs that only a true expert would ever know about. All the pasta she serves is home made and extremely tasty, so are the “frittelle di Cicorie” (fried veggie cakes) and “Pittule alla Borragine” (traditional fried pasta balls).
Agricola Samadhi, Zollino – www.agricolasamadhi.it
This yoga retreat is one of the area’s most renowned, popular among a mostly international clientele loving this enchanted meadow’s transcendental atmosphere… and well, the food, which is expressly macrobiotic (and when they say macrobiotic they get down to it seriously!). Some world famous chefs have regular residences here, but the real, local residents obviously have a certain knowledge of the local plants so that they really know what to do with the generous harvest that they pick up daily. Serious super food-people, Samadhi is the place you have dreamed of.
La Cutura, Zollino – www.lacutura.it
Have you ever dreamt of dining in heaven, surrounded by over 2000 tropical plants?
At Cutura, a surreal botanic garden on the way from Maglie to Otranto, this dream may just come true.
Extending over 35 hectares, this garden simply takes the visitor to another dimension, also because of the simple, fine restaurant they set up a few years ago. The menu is simple and strictly plant based, try the Ravioli and get lost in heaven. The guided tours of the garden are very informative, with special programs for kids.
La Fica Paccia, S.ta Maria di Leuca
Besides olive trees and grapes, another tree that is crucial to our flora is the fig tree, a sort of “divinity” to which this fine yet laidback restaurant is dedicated (the name literally means “the Crazy Fig”). This is a paradise for vegetarians, as most of the local traditional dishes are prepared with devotion by the freshest, seasonal, km 0 veggies… every season is a new experience here. In winter, their Orecchiette alle Cime di Rapa are out of this world, you won’t find them as good elsewhere easily (note that Rape is a winter verdure, in summer they are not fresh)
Agriturismo Piccapane, Cutrofiano – www.agricolapiccapane.com
This 100% bio-agriturismo is way more than just a common farming company, it represents a spark of vitality and a hub for people and projects to develop new and positive ideas. The owners define themselves as “farmers, cooks, and artisans with the mission of balancing their vital time to nature”. On this premise they have built this 100% eco-friendly structure, which is now a Salento’s cult for those in search of an authentic, fully sustainable plant based experience. Great food, great atmosphere, and 5 cute but basic rooms should you need a rest after indulging in their delicious wine
Casa Porcara, Veglie – www.casaporcara.it
We love this educational farm, set in an ancient medieval fort overlooking a fertile valley, only 10 minutes from Lecce. The architects here have made a good job in preserving the original feel of the beautiful Masseria while keeping it functional for the project’s scope. Consisting in the cultivation of strictly organic products, everything you will have here is really delicious and incredibly healthy. Also interesting is their educational program for both kids and adults alike, check their site for further info and organise a visit. Good value for money.