The Salento region is rich in history and some splendid monuments of this ancient past remain today. Simply making a trip along the coast is enough to notice the numerous towers that, at strategic points protrude from the rocks, as well as the farmhouses fortified by high walls and lookout towers.
Particularly interesting castles can be found at the coastal cities of Otranto, Gallipoli and Castro as well as places further from the sea, such as Lequile, Copertino and Corigliano d’Otranto.
From Casina Romita the following places of artistic and cultural interest can be easily reached:
Lecce… the capital of the province of Lecce, has rich examples of art works of the Roman, Medieval and Renaissance periods but it is the unique Baroque style that characterises the city, so much so that the style is nicknamed “Baroque of Lecce”. The most important monuments are: the Duomo (Cathedral) built in 1144 that represents the centre of religious life, the Church of Santa Croce whose magnificent façade makes it the most important example of “Baroque of Lecce”, the Roman Amphitheatre and the Roman Theatre. www.salento.it
Otranto… situated on the Adriatic Coast of the Salento Peninsula is the most easterly city in Italy and Punto Palascia, south of the city centre is the most easterly geographic point in Italy. Otranto, from an artistic point of view is remembered for the splendid mosaic floor of its Cathedral. The crypt of Saint Peter is one of the most interesting examples of Byzantine art.
Gallipoli… is an impressive city, with its coastline of white sand dunes and busy summer beaches, interrupted by cliffs that open to sandy shores and hidden nooks. Gallipoli can be defined as a meeting place of old and new, with the wonderfully decorated altar of its Cathedral of Sant’Agata (Saint Agatha), the majestic Church of Sacro Cuore (Sacred Heart) and the now ruined Basilica on the small nearby island of Saint Andrea.
Lequile… is a small town that can be reached on foot. At its historic centre can be found the Chiesa Madre, the church dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The Baroque Church of San Vito, patron of the town, was built between 1661 and 1670 in the form of a Greek cross. It has a beautiful dome.
Other churches of note are those of Saint Nicola, of Saint Basilio Magno and the Franciscan Convent.
Santa Maria di Leuca… is a town located at the extreme end of the “heel” of Italy, between Punta Meliso and Punta Ristola. Its ideal position was recognised in antiquity by the seafaring Greeks who gave it the name “Leukos” which means “sunlit”.
Where today, near the lighthouse there is the Church of Saint Maria di Leuca, there once was the temple dedicated to the goddess Minerva. The apostle Peter, travelling to Rome christianised the pagan temple dedicating it to the Virgin Mary. This gesture made the Santuario of Leuca famous among believers in all of Europe and still today the church is considered the “Door to Heaven”.
Nardo… is a small city of great artistic value, with many large buildings, churches and public squares. A visit to the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and Angelo Nunziante’s 16th century statues as well as the attractive presbytery which has the church’s only altar, is recommended.
Specchia…is a small artistically beautiful village that is an honorary member of “The Most Beautiful Villages in Italy” club, with the Church of Sant’Eufemia, the Church of San Francesco and the Church Matrice being noteworthy.