The Salento peninsula is one of Italy’s most remote locations, yet it’s one of the country’s most best-kept secrets. Spanning the length of Italy’s heel, the region blossoms with wildflowers and olive trees, but its coast is truly the main event of this sleepy southern region. Maintaining a Grecian influence, Salento’s baroque architecture and limestone cliffs is a draw for adventurous travelers looking for a more intimate and quiet vacation – and beach hotels on Salento’s Adriatic coast won’t disappoint.
Beach Hotels in Salento: Our top picks for this off-the-beaten-track destination
Lecce: ‘The Rome of the South’
As you venture into Italy’s south, you’re bound to pass through the magnificent city of Lecce. Sometimes referred to as the ‘Florence of the Baroque,’ it’s hard to ignore the city’s bold and expressive architecture which has earned the city its nickname. Whether you’re passing through on your way to a beach hotel in southern Salento or plan on staying a day or two, Lecce will keep you enthralled with its winding streets and stunning churches. The city’s 17th century baroque architecture is the star of the show, seen at its most vibrant on the façade of the Basilica di Santa Croce. The city’s historic centro storico hides a multitude of Roman attractions such as a sunken amphitheater and the Sant’Oronzo Column which is topped with a bronze statue of the city’s patron saint. When it comes to cuisine, Salento will have your mouth watering. Simple and delicious, the Puglia region boasts hand-made spiraled sagne ‘ncannulate pasta and the flaky Pasticciotto dessert filled with custard and dark cherries.
Gallipoli: Castles and Beaches
Not to be confused with the WW1 battle of the same name, Gallipoli, Apulia is a charming and peaceful fishing town with a lot to offer travelers who venture this far south. Beach hotels along Salento’s coast near Gallipoli are sequestered along rocky coastlines with turquoise water to cool down in when the hot southern Italian summers arrive. There are several stand-out beaches near the town which are ideal for soaking up the sunshine with family or friends. The protected Purity beach is among the most popular and is the closest to the town center. A few kilometers north is Lido Conchiglie beach, located in a small suburb of the same name. Those beachgoers feeling particularly adventurous can go driving or snorkeling around the low, rocky cliffs that surround this patch of sand. It’s also where you’ll find Padula Bianca, a white sandy beach characterized by dunes and a Mediterranean atmosphere. Back in Gallipoli, beach hotels on western coast of Salento will put you within walking distance of Moorish fortresses overlooking the coast – Gallipoli Castle being one such stronghold. Learn more about Italy’s devotion to the Catholic Church with an excursion to the Diocesan Museum of Gallipoli. The museum features some 500+ artifacts, vestments and curio related to the church, as well as panoramic views over the town and harbor from its terraces.
Otranto: History and Scenery
Across the heel of Italy’s boot is another beachside destination that’s begging to be explored. Flanked by turquoise water and a timeless waterfront, Otranto is as charming as it is historic. Beach hotels on Salento’s eastern coast overlook some of Italy’s lesser traveled gems, and Otranto certainly tends to be overlooked in favor the coastal havens further north. At the center of the town’s historic attractions is the Otranto Cathedral, which features the bones of over 800 martyrs who were killed during a mass execution by the Ottoman Empire in 1480. Only an hour from Lecce by train, Otranto is the perfect spot in Salento for a beach hotel, playing host to the sheltered cove of Porto Badisco which makes it perfect for swimming and snorkeling. The town center is enclosed within medieval walls and is a beautiful to spend a couple hours exploring the white-washed alleyways within and picking up a few souvenirs for family and friends back home.