When you live abroad, you are “forced” to spend at least a part of your holidays to go back home, visiting friends and family. Although it’s nice spending your time off work exploring a new destination, I feel pretty lucky, particularly in the summer, when going back home doesn’t seem too bad after all, when “home” is the beautiful Salento in the South of Italy.
The summer is a very busy time here and tourists from all over Italy and the world come to spend their holidays in this little corner of paradise, crowding well known spots like Lecce, Gallipoli, Otranto, Ostuni and other very popular places. When I have friends visiting, I take pride in showing them around in all these places that made the region famous all over the world. However, if you are like me, and when you travel you try to avoid the crowds of tourists at all costs – unless it’s a place you must see! – there are some alternative destinations you can choose, for a day or two of just chilling and exploring a new place to yourself.
Are you in search of Baroque treasures?
Lecce, the main town of this region, is full of baroque treasures, from all the monuments, to churches to old houses doors and it’s really worth visiting. However, if you are looking to escape tourists, why not try smaller towns like Galatina or Nardò, true hidden gems in the heel of the boot.
The old town of Galatina is a real open sky museum, with its stone paved streets, huge houses and old buildings with elegant doors and baroque decorations, courts full of flowers and arches and much more. Simply get lost through the small alleys and try to find all the hidden gems yourself, like the doors to the old city or the faces carved into the walls.
Galatina. Photo Credit: Andrea Bardoscia
The main square is dominated by the St. Peter’s church, or Chiesa Madre, originally built in the 14th century, but its external faced was re-modelled in a baroque style in the 17th century.
Another town that I really love is Nardò, very often off the tourist trail, but so beautiful and so conveniently located close to a lot of sea side places and beaches.
Right in the heart of this town, you can find Piazza Salandra, one of the most beautiful baroque squares of Southern Italy, surrounded by lots of churches and monuments with incredible decorations. This place is beautiful during the day and magical at night time.
Swimming in crystal clear water
Beautiful beaches and crystal clear water is what made Salento famous, but during the summer months, its beaches can get particularly crowded. It will be incredibly hard to find a place where you can enjoy nature on your own, but to the very popular destinations in Gallipoli or Otranto, you can opt for less known destinations, maybe the ones without a bar, without DJs and without people showing off their latest beach look!
Among these, one of my favourite is Torre Castiglione – a beach with sand and rock and very blue water all the time, it can be beautiful even when the sky is a bit cloudy!
These are just a few of the alternative destinations you can find in Salento. Keep an eye on Travel Notes for more itineraries in this magic Italian region.
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