Puglia’s coastal trail, from Otranto to Gagliano del Capo, is a perfect synthesis of all the wonders Apulia has to offer: epic views, amazing swimming spots, unknown villages waiting to be explored and windswept, undisturbed nature.
After an enchanting circular walk among oranges and olive trees, you leave Otranto to follow a red-earth coloured trail a few metres from the sea, leading towards the lighthouse of Punta Palascia, the easternmost point of Italy, and on to the tiny cove of Porto Badisco. In the following days you pass tiny fishermen hamlets, coastal SPA towns and ancient Messapian villages, to end your trip in Lecce, with its baroque palaces and Roman masterpieces.
The route is an ever-changing one, as well as the surrounding landscape: from a coastal sheperd’s path along a low jagged cliff to the open frasslands of an Apulian “Savana”, though stone walled roads carved by the passage of ancient carts and lush forests of tall trees.
A walk which is also a real feast for the senses: the presence of nature is more and more vivid with each step, accompanying you with the rustle of ancient olive trees, the screeching of crickets, the smell of wild fennel and liquorice and the azure twinkle of the sea.
As soon as you get settled in your accommodation, step outside and breathe in the incredibly fresh, crisp air of the Mediterranean Sea. In the afternoon you can visit the historic centre, and in the evening, let all your senses be delighted as you prepare for your phenomenal walking adventure ahead.
Today's walk is a good warm-up hike, it takes you to discover the small Idro valley, that gives Otranto (Hidruntum) its name. The Idro river spring is about 5km from Otranto, in a location called Monte S. Angelo; the land you will be walking in is very fertile, with orchards, olive trees, oranges and a variety of vegetables. You begin the hike on the orographic left side of the river, upstream, cut into the olive tree's fields and pass by the S. Angelo rock church, then descend along the right side of the stream, back to the Otranto, known as the "Pearl of the Orient".
Walking through the maze of the narrow alleys of the old town you reach the new port. Here a flat, gravel coastal path contours around a series of coves. You pass by several WWII bunkers and you can make a short detour to an interesting "bauxite lake", going slightly inland. Following the coast you have several "beach stop", with crystal clear waters. You continue along the coast towards the clearly visible Punta Palascia Lighthouse. At some points the knee high Mediterranean vegetation becomes thick and you need to find your way, but as long as you have the lighthouse in front and the sea on your left you are on the right track! On clear days you can see the Albanian mountains across the Adriatic Sea. Punta Palascìa lighthouse is the easternmost point of Italy and 71km away from Albania.
The first stop of today's walk is the beautiful inlet of Porto Badisco, just before the local bar/newsagent/supermarket where they make great coffee and sandwiches for today’s picnic. Continue contouring the coast following a shepard's path where you will see the typical "pagliari", round, flat topped, dry stone building where the shepherds used to sleep. After 6km you leave the coast, climbing up to the inland plateau. Here you follow narrow paths through the fields. At 8,5 km there is a good pic-nic spot in a little pine tree forest that offers great shade on sunny days. The last section is on a surfaced road, descending to the Spa town of Santa Cesarea Terme. Here there are great swimming spots.
Leave Santa Cesarea, climbing uphill on the surfaced road until you reach an old gravel/grass dry-stone walled road. Staying inland follow narrow paths through the fields until the Ancient Messapian town of Castro, with its imposing high walls. Spend some time exploring the old town and maybe having lunch before descending to the port where you can go swimming. Continue along the coast on a uneven, rocky trail to the Acquaviva coave. A beautiful hidden inlet and a fantastic swimming spot where a fresh water spring comes out at sea level, a. The last part of the path climbs up the thickly forested Acquaviva valley towards Marittima
After buying a good sandwich in Marittima you initially follow a surfaced road that winds it’s way through orchards of immense olive trees. You then the first of several traditional "tratturi", a system of ancient roads and footpaths used by the locals to go down to the sea or to connect villages and orchards. Each stone tells the story of a hard peasant life The sea is in front of you when you descend to Tricase Porto, where you can taste a good "caffè in ghiaccio" (iced coffee) and go for a swim. From here you have some asphalt to today’s final destination: Marina Serra a small coastal hamlet with great swimming spots.
The last day’s walk starts with a short uphill trail called "enemy's path", Sentiero del Nemico: the ideal place to lay an ambush to unexpected visitors in the old times. After some asphalt on the costal road the walk goes back inland on more ancient "tratturi", finally reaching Novaglie, a nice rocky beach stop. Here starts the breath-taking "Cipolliane path", named after the caves you can visit along the way, that leads you to the Ciolo bridge, the last great swimming spot on this trip. From the tiny Ciolo cove, you walk up the Ciolo valley to Gagliano del Capo where you take the train to Lecce for your last night in the beautiful Baroque city.
Last day included. Service ends after breakfast.
Nights in double room in **/*** hotels , B&B and agriturismi with breakfast
Hotel San Giuseppe is set in a 16th-century farmhouse typical of the Puglia region and it's a well-finished and relaxed location in Otranto's historic center just a few steps from the sea. Rooms are well-furnished and beautifully decorated with air conditioning/heating, TV, free Wifi. Quality breakfast is rich. Staff is helpful and courteous.
Masseria Panareo is surrounding by olive trees overlooking the sea. Rooms are furnished in rustic style and at the same time are elegant, well-finished and spacious with free Wifi, telephone, TV. The structure has an external swimming pool and a restaurant with a view on the sea that proposes regional and Italian dishes, made with fresh, local ingredients. Breakfast is very good with fresh products.
Grand Hotel Mediterraneo offers beautiful views of the coast of Salento, from its terrace and some of the rooms. Rooms are basic and funtional with TV, air conditioning, free Wifi, telephone with direct line. Breakfast buffet is good and it is served on the terrace with sea view.
B&B Palazzo Vecchio is an historic castle renovated situated in the historic center of the city and just 10 minutes from the beach and 2 km from Adriatic Sea. The environment is relaxed with external swimming pool and it offers rustic style rooms with air conditioning, TV, free Wifi. Breakfast is served in the courtyard.
This B&B is just 3 minutes by walk from beach of Marina Serra. Rooms are spacious and furnished in a simple way overlooking the garden and have free Wifi and TV. Breakfast is served together at the other guests.
Grand Hotel is located in the historic center just 200 m from Lecce Railway Station. The location is elegant and refined with Leccese Baroque architecture. Rooms are spacious, well-finished and beautifully decorated and have these comfort: air conditioning, telephone, TV, free Wifi. Breakfast is rich of savory and sweet dishes served at the poolside or into a loggia.
GPS tracks are available on request
These services can be added to the ones included in the base price of the tour:
Two couples in search of sun, sea...and exercise: we have found all these elements, with the extra adventure of finding the route. Your route notes and GPS have been of great help, and have solved any direction issues. Bravo! congratulations to all who have made this route possible. A big thanks from all of us: we hope we can walk another route soon, together with your organization (Eugenio L. 2019).