The Fragrant Ionian

Our trip begins in Leverano (Lecce Province). The 14th century square tower in the old town is a fine point from which to see the Ionian Sea, a defence against pirates.

Frederick II is a familiar figure to visitors in Puglia, and this tower is another of his buildings. Leverano and Taviano together make up a world famous flower-growing area. Flowers and wine have always been a good combination, and not only to gladden a table. Wine-growers use rose bushes planted near the rows of vines to “monitor” the health of the vineyards. A flourishing rose bush is a sign that the vineyard has not been attacked by parasites.

Leverano gives its name to the first of the three Doc wines on our path today, followed by Nardòand Galatina one after the other. All three are expressions of the Salento’s Prince of vines – Negroamaro. The differences between the wines come from the contributions of the secondary varieties of grape used in the blend, from the differences in soils and climates of the vineyards and from their flavours and aromas. Rosé wines are a real speciality of this part of the Salento, with their heady perfumes and delicious flavours, ideally suited to the local gastronomic traditions. They are young wines with inviting bright colours and have become a distinguishing feature of the Salento wine scene.

In Nardò there are so many things to see: the old town with its noble architecture, the Palaeolithic graffiti in the Bay of Uluzzu, the Porto Selvaggio Park,and the marinas at Santa Maria al Bagno, and Santa Caterina with the lovely Cenate farmsteads.

Galatina is a certified City of Art, thanks to over thirty noble residences and houses, although the town is really famous because of “tarantism”. This “strange illness” is a key element in Salento culture, and former sufferers – mostly women – used to give thanks for their cure to St. Paul. This took the form of a pilgrimage on June 29 to the Church of San Paolo in Galatina, in the 17th century Palazzo Congedo. The Galatina area was thought to be free of spiders and snakes because it was under the saint’s protection.

Next we travel on to Cutrufiano, an important centre for pottery in the Lower Salento. Here there is a ceramic tradition which dates back to the Middle Ages, and reached its high point in the 16th century when the town had a population of 600, with a total of 50 pottery workshops. This is the heartland of Grecìa Salentina, a linguistic and cultural area of nine towns where a Greek-derived dialect is still spoken today – called griko or grecanico. Our journey continues through a landscape where vines flourish in a landscape with elegant country houses and fortified farmsteads – many of these are excellent wineries and open to visitors.

Our trip ends in the direction of Scorrano and Melissano, still following the trail of Negroamaro. Gallipoli is worth visiting, with its old town on a peninsula over the sea and reached crossing a bridge. The typical cuisine here gives a real taste of the life and the history of a genuine seaside town.

Movimento Turismo del Vino Wineries
Nardò (Le)

Tuglie (Le)

Santi Dimitri
Galatina (Le)


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