Where you can walk in Apulia
Apulia is a region full of places where nature, from north to south, between Gargano Daunia Imperial Apulia, Bari and the coast, the Itria Valley and Magna Grecia, Murgia and Ravines, and Salento showcases all its splendor. Places that remain in the minds and hearts of those who visit it and make you want to come back.
In Apulia the sun always shines and the sea is fantastic, a turquoise color. The beaches are wide and in other sections of the cliffs give unforgettable landscapes.
The most popular places are obviously those of the coast, more than 700 kilometers long with several trails awarded the “Blue Flag” and “sails Legambiente”. Less known are the inland landscapes that are still rich in wild and rugged features as may be those of the Murgia, the Tavoliere (called the breadbasket of Italy), Gargano (full of mystery and history).
Apulia is known to be the flattest and least wooded region of Italy. Therefore visitors generally look for a nice beach, charming old towns, good cuisine, the ‘Trulli’ and the Romanesque cathedrals. Although it is a place where one mostly does not expect to be in touch with nature, Salento has spaces of natural beauty in addition to the concentration of history, monuments, cathedrals and edifices. The nature that Salento boasts of is less known because it is off the beaten track in areas mostly reachable only on foot. During this trip we will explore areas of architectural, cultural and environmental heritage; including geological formations, breath-taking landscapes, cliffs, prehistoric remains and more. In addition to this we will also encounter the recent past: ‘Pajare’, fortified farms and towers that dominate the landscape and stately homes that underline the strategic importance of this region as a crossroad between East and West Mediterranean and as the southern gateway to Old Europe.
Our desire is to accompany you to discover the many faces of Apulia. We have studied guided excursions (walking tours) and take you to places sometimes very little known, but with the same charm of the most famous and frequented by mass tourism.
Walking on “the salt way” and the “Cipolliane caves” (Salento)
The “salt way” are trawlers connecting the town to the sea. Indeed, from ancient times, the Corsanians were dedicated to salt production. By virtue of that use, the paths in question took the name of Salt Waters. We will arrive at the marina of Novaglie and then continue along the Cipolliane cave trail; rock patches at about 30 meters above sea level, which are an exemplary case for the study of the Upper Paleolithic. We will conclude at the cove of Ciolo (with the famous Ciolo bridge) which, with its vertical walls, forms a canyon that encircles its rare natural and landscape beauties.
Hiking to the Spunnulate (Torre Castiglione – Salento)
We are about 10 Km west of Porto Cesareo (Lecce). In the area between the “Swamp of the Count” area and the Torre Castiglione site and within the Marine Protected Area. Numerous valleys, called “Spunnulations”, characterize the geological, botanical, faunistic and landscaping profile of the area.
Spunnulate the natural features of the Land of Arneo, take their name from the dialectical term “spunnare”, that is to say, sink, which indicates the event of karst origin from which they originate. The phenomenon is related to the phase of colonization of the underground cavity formed by particularly friable organogenic rocks and, consequently, easily modified by the presence of hypogeum water, meteoric waters and sea water, since many of these caves communicate directly with the sea.
They are a testament to a particularly delicate habitat, ecological niche to safeguard, a true “seawater garden” of Mare Nostrum: a unique reality for its high concentration of biodiversity, a magical scenery, a place of incubation and at the same time metamorphosis.
Walking to Torre Colimena and the flamingo of the monk’s saltpan
The Salina, known as the Monks because it was handled by the Benedictine monks of Aversa until 1404, extends for about 250,000 square meters near a stretch of coastal dunes located to the west of Torre Colimena.
It is a depression, enclosed by dunes by the sea and by hills on the land side, in which the seawater first poured from the swamps, then channeled into two ducts cut into the tufa cliff, was regulated in the influx by wooden locks, whose housings are still visible.
The extraction of salt, for centuries carried out in this salt room as a profitable activity, is evidenced by the presence of a deposit built on the rocky north bank of the same with well-squared calcarenite (tufa).
The Monk’s saltpan was, in fact, included in the S.I.C. of the “Natura 2000 Network” and has become Regional Oriented Reserve.
In early spring, Italian riders, martin fishermen, pink flamingos and many other birds choose the saltpan as a rest area to find nourishment.
Walks on the hills of Ostuni: discovering the story of the oldest mother into the world (Alto Salento)
The excursion retraces 27,000 years of history immersed in the enchanted nature of the murders of Ostuni. You will walk up and down the Colli di Ostuni to discover the archaeological and naturalistic park of Santa Maria D’Agnano, a place of the most important find of the oldest Mother in the world. His name is Delia, also known as Ostuni1. It is the most important archaeological discovery of Salento. In the cave of Agnano, the remains of the woman of the Paleolithic inhumane with the child in the womb of the eighth month of pregnancy, together with the finds of the Bronze Age and the preclassic civilizations of the Messapians, were found. The Agnano cave with the ritual burial of the Palaeolithic woman, the worship of the goddess Demetra in the Messapic era, and finally the reconversion in the Christian age, with a sixteenth-century fresco depicting the Virgin Mary, represents a celebration of the eternal feminine charm from prehistory to the 18th century century. During the trekking you will also visit the sanctuary of S. Oronzo along a path between ancient olive trees and cork oaks.
Hiking from Saint Biagio’s cript to Torre Guaceto Natural Reserve (Alto Salento)
The strong part of this excursion will be the attention to the rock phenomenon of Brindisi, which, although in a less scenic aspect than the tarantine evidence, represents some respects of all respect.
An example is the crypt of San Biagio, a real flagship of the Puglia Cuban Civilization. After a visit to the rock church, a walk along the Royal Canal, the longest torrent of Puglia, equipped as a hiking trail, to the natural reserve of Torre Guaceto where we will spend our picnic with typical local products, not before having given to our limbs in the clear waters of the reserve. Upon return we will visit the Baccatani farmhouse and Regina Giovanna tower.
Hiking in Porto Selvaggio Natural Reserve (Salento)
The Regional Natural Park of Porto Selvaggio can be discovered through a beautiful hiking path that starts from the Torre di Santa Maria dell’Alto, overlooks the Belvedere, with its breathtaking view, then descends to the bay with its springs before to arrive between Mediterranean scrub, wonderful caves and scenic views at Torre Uluzzo, open pit on the Ionian Sea, which spans Serra Cicora.
The archaeological importance of Serra Cicora consists of the presence of a first ceramic ceramic neolithic. The area also houses the Horse Cave: the cave has returned numerous finds related to the Neanderthal Man; in which the testimonies of a culture, the Uluzziano, were found.
In the Captain’s Swamp we will admire the wild orchids, the birds present almost all year round, and the phenomenon of the spun-offs of collapsing valleys.
Hiking in Otranto, the Orient’s door (Salento): from bauxite quarry to the eastern point of Italy
Our walk start from the port of Otranto from where a short walk will lead us to Torre del Serpe, a symbol of the town of Otranto, and then to the red lake of the Bauxite quarry, a unique place of its kind, of great natural beauty. It will seem to be on the Mars planet with the intense red of the mineral that was previously extracted on this site.
After the long photographic stop to immortalize this magical place we will continue with a single track along the cliff that will take you to the Palascia Point Lighthouse, the most point in the East of Italy. You continue to walk to the Fortified Masseria of Cippano, an emblematic example of how one once lived in Salento and, finally, a refreshing bath in the waters of Porto Badisco at the Bay of Aeneas.
With this naturalistic and cultural excursion we will enter the heart of Salento, in its history, in its roots. Since the Paleolithic, the extreme flap of land on which Otranto stands has always been a crossroads of peoples and cultures. Its position on the easternmost point of Italy has represented its fortune and its misfortune: the central port of the Mediterranean, a real gateway to and from the East has caused a centuries-old and cosmopolitan community to flourish over the centuries , but at the same time made it an easy target for raids and looting such as the dramatic and catastrophic operation of the Turks in 1480.
Today the town is listed among the national tourist pearls thanks to the beauty of its medieval village and the crystal of its sea. Inserted “One of the most beautiful villages in Italy” by the Italian Touring Club.
Hiking discovering Dolmen, Menhir and Massi della Vecchia (Salento)
The excursion takes place in the eastern countryside of the province of Lecce, the place of Puglia (and perhaps even Italy) richer than prehistoric megalithic monuments. These are the Dolmen and the Menhir, who survived time and destroyed by man.
You will walk in the wonderful countryside between Giurdignano and Giuggianello, between secular olive groves, where dolmen and menhir are kept. Dolmen are sepulchral and sacred monuments, formed by a funerary cell of various sizes, with walls enclosed by monolithic or juxtaposed orthostats and one or more roofing slabs. Some also retain the dromos, the access corridor to the funerary cell.
These are therefore prehistoric elite chamber tombs, as it is assumed that the villagers’ burials were to be buried in them, which should also be spiritual guides. It is probable that in some epochs some dolmen have been reused as tombs by other communities, even by laying down more debris. Some drainage channels on the dolmen covering slabs suggested that they were sacred, hence places where ceremonies took place.
The menhirs, on the other hand, are rocks, they are monolithic megaliths of various sizes, square, up to about five meters high. Even on their function there is no certainty, however, since generally the loose leaves of the artefacts have east-west orientation, for this reason always illuminated by the sun, it was assumed that they were simulacri devoted to the worship of the Sun. They may also have a phallic symbolism, therefore lithic simulations dedicated to the cult of Mother Earth, around which fertility rituals were held.
Remains within the megaliths will also visit Massi della Vecchia, large stones centered on a vast plateau, from the most varied forms that have inspired the names, such as Furticiddhu te Old Lu lu, Lu Lettu the Old and The Foot of Hercules. Are erosive shapes or megaliths with sacred functions such as dolmen and menhirs? The first hypothesis is certainly evident, the second, most fascinating, it is not quite dangerous if we consider the cultural context in which they are located.
Hiking in the ravine of Riggio discovering the unique waterfall in Apulia! (Alto Salento)
Riggio’s gravina is a natural treasure chest of inestimable wealth and value, for the quantity and variety of plant and animal species housed, as well as for the enchanting beauty of the caves that propel it, placed on multiple levels.
One of the most fascinating features of Riggio’s gravina is the presence of the only natural waterfall in Puglia, visible only in certain periods of the year as it is fed by rainwater. After a jump of about 15 meters, the so-called “caggione” is fed, an underwater moat that has long served as a reservoir of water in the centuries where the rock village was inhabited by monks. The shrub in turn feeds a stream that makes the gravine a wet place with a precious ecosystem.
In our path we will also see the dismal Fantian quarry, today spectacular event box. Finally we will conclude the day with the visit of one of the oldest ceramic workshops where the master Figulino will do us from Cicero, showing us the rock church inside it and a hanging garden.
Excursion in Cerrate Abbey (Salento)
This itinerary, suspended between land and sea, starts from the abbey of S. Maria a Cerrate, among the places of the FAI heart. It crosses the land cultivated a thousand years ago by monks and some of the oldest olive groves in the province. A small oak forest looks a few steps away from the start surprise with its beauty and its animistic sacredness. We ask a question: it is a case the presence of religious orders near the ancient forest of Lecce or their incessant work of dissolving was an attempt to exorcise idolatry and pagan atavistic cults who resided in the sacred woods as this one we are crossing?
Along paths and trails, between tufts of scented thyme and colored cysts we reach the candied beaches of the Adriatic. Let’s take a few steps to the dunes, between the wave and the paddle, then move inward. On the road that brings us back to Cerrate, we walk through carriages, meet farms, a great hypogeum crusher and, finally, we take the opportunity to visit the museum of peasant civilization housed within the spaces of the abbey.
Excursion in Punta PizzoNatural Park (Salento)
This excursion will see us crossing the Punta Pizzo Coastal Regional Nature Park and San Andrea Island, in Gallipoli, along the Ionian coast of Salento.
The coast of Punta Pizzo includes peculiar environments, consisting of Mediterranean scrub, Mediterranean pseudo-steppes and humid and humid environments. Very rich in herbs with herbaceous plants, herbaceous heron, thorny broom, myrtle, lynx, thorny asparagus, rosemary and thyme.
Going up to the highest point of the park, you can admire the Bourbon tower built to defend the Salento coast and enjoy the breathtaking panorama of Gallipoli Bay.
Hiking tour along the coast of Otranto: from Poesia grotto to the turkish bay (Salento)
This hiking tour starts from Roca Vecchia, important messapic settlement and site of the Cave of Poetry, classified by National Geographic among the 5 most beautiful natural pools in Italy. The path will see us walking up to Torre dell’Orso, named after the tower depicting the profile of a bear with his muzzle and ears, although erosion has over the years changed that semblance but is still well visible .
Going along the coast there are two rocks emerging from the sea, near and similar, called The Two Sisters because according to legend they would represent two drowned sisters at that point and the gods, moved to compassion, would transform them into the two monoliths.
The walk will take us to Torre Sant’Andrea where we will admire one of the beauties of the Adriatic coast Salento: the faragles of Torre Sant’Andrea. After the necessary photographic stop, we will continue to walk along a path that goes along the coast, on dirt ground and among the smells of Mediterranean scrub. We will notice cavities, caves, small creeks. We will walk to the Frassanito pine forest that comes to the protected oasis of the Alimini lakes. We will sail to Alimini and continue our journey through the Bay of Turks.
Hiking tour along the swamp of Ugento (Salento)
Hiking in the Natural Park of Ugento Coast, one of the most enchanting places in the Salento area, including wetlands, pine forests, Mediterranean scrub, coastal dunes covered with aromatic rosemary and golden sand.
The path will bring us to know these so diverse environments. Beginning with the gravestones (these are karstic canals that have formed over the centuries with rainfall erosion of the limestone rock) to continue to the “Horn Specchia” (a huge set of white stones that take over the whole shape of a cone). It is nothing more than an internal point of view against the Turks, assuming the same function as the coastal towers. On its top, you can see a wide panorama that covers the whole area of the surroundings to the sea.
We will continue to the damp area, where is the pond of Rottacapozza, populated by many animals such as folaghe and dragonflies that fluttered in wide canees grown all around it. Finally, we will reach the coast where, weather permitting, we will enjoy the crystal clear waters of this wonderful stretch of sea.
At the end of the tour, visit the interesting Archaeological Museum through which we can learn more about the ancient history of this land with important reminiscences of the Messapic period (VII – III century BC) and visit of a Byzantine church.