Saturday, November 6, 2010

Day 38 What a heel!

Barbara, Shay and I took a road trip today to the most southern tip of Italy's heel.

We drove along the coastline starting from the beach resort of St. Foca, Shay at the wheel. (I can't drive standard and Barbara had her own very good reasons for staying in the back seat.)  Since we'd decided it was going to be a day trip, we chose our stops judiciously. It's off season, of course so the roads were clear and the streets empty.

I won't go into too much detail. The pictures speak for themselves.

Our first stop was just south of the beach resort of San Foca, Roca Vecchia, where archaeological digs are taking place; Otranto, which looked pretty enough but even off season the historic centre had little more than cheap, predictable tourist shops and Santa Cesarea Terme (thermal baths), tiny and lovely.

A spectacular aquamarine Adriatic accompanied us all the way until we reached Santa Maria di Leuca, where the Adriatic meets the Ionian Seas, and the highlight of the trip.

The eighteenth century basilica (built on the former site of a Roman temple dedicated to Minerva) sits on a promontory alongside one of Italy's most impressive lighthouses – 47 metres tall, according to Wikipedia.

We drove back home via inland roads and stopped at an attractive small town where I bought hand-made chocolates for our after-dinner treat. Maglie was our last stop. It was after 6 p.m. and dark, and we were getting tired so we didn't stay long. The historic centre there had a whole lot of expensive shops.


Roca Vecchia 

Grotta della Poesia, Roca Vecchia

Otranto, looking toward the Adriatic

Otranto, part of its centro storico

Corner view of Villa Sticchi, a 19th C villa built in the Moresque style, in Santa Cesarea Terme

Ville Sticchi facade

Santa Cesaria Terme

Basilica Santa Maria di Leuca

The lighthouse, Santa Maria di Leuca

The harbour and Leuca itself looking down from promontory

Town square, Poggiardo


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