Real Salento lives inland: forget the hustle-and-bustle of Lecce and the seaside, and adventure into a vast – and wild in all senses- land among nature, history, agriculture, and along a huge network of small brogues, some of whome that are getting big interest from a number of expats and serious travellers. Everybody love the sunshine…
Very down south, Specchia, Alessano, Gagliano and Presicce are redefining the spirit of southern hospitality: a group of medieval gems hidden “at the world end”, they catapult the visitor into another era, for a number of international jet-setters regularly spend summer here away from glamour and flashlights. The cultural scene is dynamic too, with the European Film Festival that is now huge after over 20 editions
In the heart of the region instead, Galatina, Galatone and Nardò are, after Lecce, Salento’s more dynamic areas all year around. Galatina is probably the most elegant: besides being the true home to local sweet delight “Pasticciotto”, it is renowned for the wonderful palazzos and the Basilica of Santa Caterina, one of Italy’s Bizantine wonders. Nardò is nice too, the magnificence of its baroque is second only to Lecce’s. Many expats have moved here, including a large international gay community. Ancient culture is also strong, as usual in Italy: this is the area of Pizzica, the ancestral rhythm/ritualism of Salento.
Talking about history, the Magna Grecia (greater Greece) is a group of towns between Lecce and Otranto where the Greek heritage is still strong and steady. Melendugno, Castrignano Dei Greci, Vernole, Melpignano, Martano, all deserve a daytrip – or two- to explore a very deep part of Europe tracing back to prehistory with vivid traces of the ancient Greek presence.
Prehistoric dolmen and menhirs can be found litterally at every corner here.
Last but not least, the area north of Lecce, on the way to Ostuni and the Valle D’Itria is spectacular: Leverano, Campi, and Salice are all about wine making and an agricultural heritage that keeps staying intact and well radicated. Some of Italy’s very best wine – and grapes – come from here.