Last July, we spent two weeks in Salento, in the heel of the Italian boot. Some wonderful sunny holidays where we swimmed a lot and visited many lovely villages in the inland. The place full of olive trees, fragrant herbs, hibiscus and lush bougainvillea, is absolutely charming, A perfect incarnation of Mediterranean charm!
The history of this former strategic land in Europe (the oil they produced was at the heart of the European economy) is as rich as its vegetation. You can find many traces of old castles, forts, baroque mansions and churches in every village you would visit.
Last but not least, the place is perfect for families if you can adapt your rhythm to the climate (it’s very hot in the midday). It’ will be better to visit in the morning until 11 am for early risers (which is not our case), or after4 pm (villages are very lively in the evening because families use to going out around 10 pm). Wherever you go, you will be friendly welcome as a family, either in the hotel, in restaurants or museums (very different from Paris,;) …).
WHAT TO DO?
There are many many places to visit. The coast is beautiful and all the Puglian villages have a very charming historical center.
Our favorite spots:
Lecce of course, whose beauty is worldwide known. The best moment to visiti the city is in the evening when all its splendor is revealed … The historic center with many Baroque buildings, is absolutely magical.
The pretty village of Castro: on top of a hill overlooking the sea, the center is absolutely charming! Its marina is very pretty and lively in the evening (concerts, cafes and restaurants)
Gallipoli: a wonderful small town that combines sumptuous mansions and fishermen cabins.
Do not miss with children: the visit of an olive oil press (Frantoio) where you will be explained how this ‘liquid gold’ was made for centuries … Captivating !!
Otranto : this city first striked our eyes with its rawness and white colors that stood out from the deep blue sea surrounding it. It’s very pleasant to wander at random through its streets (even if there are too many tourist shops in the historic center in my opinion)
Do not miss: the Steve Mc Curry photo exhibition inthe heart of the castle.
Finally, some inland villages such as Poggiardo or Muro Leccese remain very authentic, without any touristic dimension. This is where we feel most the soul of Salento …
WHAT TO EAT?
Pastries, fruits and fish
There are many delicious pastry shops in Lecce where you can eat good ice creams or cookies:
Pasticceria Alvino and Crem : two very good places with biscuits, pastries and wonderful ice-creams.
Martinucci: a delicious patisserie that offers sumptuous cakes, biscuits, ice creams and even organic salty snacks. You can find this famous Salentina patisserie in different places : Lecce, Gallipoli, Specchia or Maglie (the historical shop)
If you want to buy good grocery products (pasta, olive oil, biscuits,…), go to La Bottega del Corso in Lecce. All is high quality!
To find good fresh fish, fruits and vegetable, nothing easier : in a each village, you will find a fish shop and a green grocery!
Some good tested and approved addresses which offer delicious recipes of season, using local produits :
Il Bastione in Galllipoli: delicious dishes based on fish in very nice seaside setting
Da Sergio in Otranto: a traditional trattoria that serves great fresh local dishes
Ristorante La Piazza in Poggiardo : a refined place with a very nice patio. Slow Food 2012 prize, the restaurant serves great typical dishes from the region (meat and fish)
OUR FAVOURITE BEACHES FOR FAMILIES
We tested a lot of beaches. All are very nice, but often rocky, so without any easy access for toddlers who can not swim. Often small, beaches are rapidly full of people. It’s better to go on the beach early in the morning (moreover, its very hot in the midday) or in the evening, after 6 pm.
Our favorite beaches :
Baia dei Turchi at the north of Otranto: a walk among the pines leads to the beautiful sandy beach. The access to the beach itself requires a little effort but it is worth it!
Aquamarina, at the south of Castro: a lovely cove, with very easy access. A nice atmosphere, fragrant pines and cicadas’ sing …
WHERE TO STAY?
We chose a residence with pool in Spongano (7 km from Castro): La Corte dei Colori. everything was perfect for families : the accommodation is spacious, very clean, well-equipped and tastefully furnished. The location allows to visit the entire Salento (40 minutes from Lecce, Gallipoli, 5 minutes from Castro, 45 minutes from Santa Maria di Leuca at the extreme South).
Finally to fly to Salento, nothing easier: Easyjet offers great rates from Paris to Brindisi!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. If you have any good tips for a family holiday in Puglia, please share here!
See you next Monday for a new recipe … Then, from August 22, Sweet Cabane will resume its usual pace with a special selection for kids’ ‘Rentrée’ in September.