What to see near Salento: the beauties of Southern Italy

Those who live in Salento are already very lucky because they have beautiful places within reach where they can go on excursions, trips to the seaside, explore the historic centers or have fun during the summer nightlife. However, there is no shortage of those who also want to visit the beauties outside the Salento area, starting from the closest ones such as the cities, towns and villages of the Itria Valley. For this purpose many decide to rent a car or, especially for outings in groups of friends or with family, to book a transfer, a minibus suitable for trips out of town for several people.

The Itria Valley

Alberobello ©nicholasmoulds via Canva

The Itria Valley, also called “land of the trulli”, is an area that includes several municipalities in the provinces of Bari, Brindisi and Taranto.

  • Firstly, Alberobello, a UNESCO heritage city, famous for its characteristic white conical buildings, the trulli, wonderful for walking in the narrow streets of the Monti and Aja Piccola districts, full of souvenir shops and restaurants where you can eat excellent local food.
  • Secondly, Locorotondo and its historic center where it is possible to admire the traditional houses with pointed roofs and the narrow streets embellished with flowers, also beautiful to photograph.
  • Thirdly, Putignano, a city famous for its Carnival but not only: for all lovers of nature excursions it is the ideal place to discover mysterious beauties such as the Grotta di San Michele and the bell-shaped Grotta del Trullo.
  • But certainly unmissable are the Castellana caves in the municipality of Castellana Grotte, open all year round.
  • Moving from the municipality of Bari to that of Brindisi, a visit to the white city, Ostuni, so defined because of the typical buildings made of white lime in its historic centre, is unmissable.
  • Also, a short distance away is Carovigno, a charming village with a splendid historic centre, rich in art, history and nature: the four towers, the churches or the nearby Torre Guaceto nature reserve.
  • In addition, in the province of Brindisi, for your out-of-town trips, you can visit the other towns of the Itria Valley, Ceglie Messapica, San Michele Salentino, San Vito dei Normanni, Villa Castelli, Cisternino and Fasano.
  • To conclude, the towns of the Valla d’Itria are closed by Martina Franca, in the province of Taranto, famous for its Baroque architecture. Worth tasting here is the famous capocollo.

Destinations to visit in autumn and winter in Puglia…

Castel del Monte
Castel del Monte ©lev1977 via Canva
  • Among the autumn and winter destinations, there are many places to discover outside of Salento where you can stop for just one day or even for a few days. Remaining in Puglia, in Andria there is Castel del Monte, an octagonal building built by Frederick II of Swabia around 1240 in a position, 540 meters above sea level, which today seems isolated but which at that time was strategic , not far from the road that connected Andria and Garagnone. The castle stands in a point where the sun shines at all hours of the day: in the Middle Ages the sun had a particular meaning, especially since Frederick II was passionate about astronomy and was often compared to this very star.
  • Instead, in the province of Foggia, a symbol of Christianity and a destination for numerous tourists and pilgrims every year, is the Sanctuary of San Pio da Pietrelcina in San Giovanni Rotondo. It was Padre Pio himself who wanted the construction of a sanctuary near the ancient Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. This was inaugurated in 1959 and its crypt also housed the tomb of the Saint which was then moved to the nearby new sanctuary inaugurated in 2004 and designed by the architect Renzo Piano: a grandiose and imposing structure of 6000 square metres, second in size only to Milan Cathedral.

…outside Puglia

Matera ©blueajayphoto via Canva
  • Matera, in Basilicata, splendid to visit especially during the Christmas period, famous for the Sassi or the typical constructions created from the natural caves present in the area to which have been added, over time, those dug by man who settled here in starting from the Paleolithic and which over the centuries, especially in the Middle Ages, built larger buildings such as the Cathedral of Matera or other churches. Even the historic center deserves more than one visit due to its buildings and palaces (such as the Palazzo dell’Annunziata) or its large squares.
  • Likewise, in Calabria, however, between the provinces of Cosenza, Crotone and Catanzaro, there is the Sila National Park, where there are many activities that you can do during the autumn season even with your children: picking chestnuts and mushrooms, renting bicycles or follow horseback riding routes or, again, go for walks immersed in nature. At the Ampollino, Cecita and Arvo lakes, the more sporty will be able to go rowing or sport fishing especially for trout and carp. Sila is also very popular in winter for winter sports as in the towns of Lorica, Camigliatello and Ciricilla, chosen for their ski equipment and facilities, or Villaggio Palumbo for the bobsled slopes.

Destinations to visit in spring and summer in Puglia…

Vieste ©pilat666 via Canva
  • When the good weather begins there is nothing better than spending a fun day with your children at the zoo and it is possible to visit one in nearby Fasano, the Zoosafari where you can admire savannah animals such as lions, tigers, giraffes, elephants , zebras, camels, dromedaries and many others; take walks among monkeys, gorillas, chimpanzees and baboons; photograph aquatic animals such as hippos, seals and polar bears; discover reptiles or admire shows with sea lions and seals. Near the zoo there is also the Fasanolandia Amusement Park with many attractions and rides for the enjoyment of adults and children.
  • To relax in the summer by the sea, enjoying spacious sandy beaches and beautiful crystal clear waters, remaining in Puglia, in the Gargano there is the beautiful town of Vieste, famous both for all its natural and landscape beauty (such as the Sea Caves and Pizzomunno) but also for its historic centre, quiet for walks among souvenir shops and restaurants but also for the increasingly active nightlife which attracts many young people, especially in summer, with events, beach parties and concerts. From the port of Vieste it is possible to book a place on the ferry that connects the city every day with the Tremiti Islands, an archipelago in the Adriatic Sea made up of five islands (San Domino, San Nicola, Capraia, Cretaccio and Pianosa) beautiful to visit even with a small dinghy or with organized tours of the caves that allow you to admire the beauty of the seabed and places inaccessible simply by swimming.

…outside Puglia

  • Another seaside town, this time overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, is Tropea. The fascinating town of the Costa degli Dei will leave you enchanted not only by the beauty of its beaches but also by the many cultural and artistic testimonies. In the ancient part of the city there is Church of Santa Maria dell’Isola (also called Isola Bella) from which it is possible to admire the entire coast and even see Stromboli and Vulcano or Etna in Sicily.
  • For those looking for a dream holiday, in spring or summer, moving from Salento even for several days, Campania will satisfy these needs with the Sorrento Coast with the beauties of Sorrento, Massa Lubrense, Vico Equense and Sant’Agata. These are beautiful towns with breathtaking scenery where vegetation and the sea combine with the smells of citrus fruits and flowers.
Amalfi Coast
Amalfi Coast ©ezupix via Canva
  • Likewise, still in Campania, for a charming holiday, you can opt for the Amalfi Coast which extends between the Gulf of Naples and that of Salerno through 14 municipalities including the beautiful Amalfi, whose historic center is dominated by the Cathedral of Sant’Andrea and again, villages like Atrani and Conca dei Marini where the famous Campania dessert “la Sfogliatella” was born. Furore, also called the painted town, famous for its fjord from which thousands of people dive every year, the seaside centers or fishing villages of Maiori, Minori, Praiano and Cetara. Finally Positano, famous for its white houses leaning against the sea and Vietri sul Mare, the last town on the coast, the southernmost one, famous for its ceramists.
Matera ©rudybalasko via Canva

Matera, the city with timeless charm, rich in art, history, nature and traditions, where you can get lost walking among its stones, remaining enchanted.

Ostuni ©ladiras via Canva
One-day itinerary from the Itria Valley to Matera

Itinerary that starting from the Itria Valley will lead you to the beautiful city of Matera, a tour of history, art and, if desired, culinary tradition that will make you fully experience the flavors and wonders of these territories.

Spiagge di Porto Cesareo ©www.portocesareoesalento.com
The 7 unmissable places in Puglia

Do you dream a holiday in Puglia?Here are the 7 unmissable places if you spend your holidays here, in the heart of Puglia! Lecce, Porto Cesareo, Ostuni and much more.