Road to Santa Maria di Leuca

In the list of places to visit during your stay in Salento you can not miss a trip to Santa Maria di Leuca, the extreme fence of the Salento peninsula, de finibus terrae.

Santa Maria di Leuca is a seaside resort between Punta Ristola and Punta Meliso where it is believed to meet the Mar Ionian Sea and the Adriatic Sea. An unforgettable stop on a tour of the South Puglia, Santa Maria di Leuca has proven its tourist vocation since the 19th century, hosting the noble villas of the time, still well-preserved today.

The name Leuca comes from leukos, white in Greek, since the sailors in the ancient times saw this place, during navigation, sunlit. Tradition also refers to Santa Maria di Leuca as the place where Saint Peter landed on this earth to begin his work of evangelization. “De finibus terrae” is the name given by the ancient Romans to this area, being the extreme flap of the Salento peninsula.

Santa Maria di Leuca rises on a stretch of coast alternating with cliffs and sand coves and full of natural caves inhabited by man since the Paleolithic. During the Middle Ages, the caves became a shelter for Basilian monks, showing Greek and Latin inscriptions and engraved crosses in the rock.

WHAT TO VISIT SANTA MARIA DI LEUCA

The sanctuary stands on the remains of the ancient temple dedicated to the goddess Minerva. Within the structure, which has been reconstructed several times over the centuries, it is possible to admire a fragment of the Madonna e del Bambino painting, given to flames by Algerian pirates during a 17th century invasion.

santuario-santa-maria-di-leuca

The Latin Cross Church has a single nave that ends with the Great altar, where the painting of the Madonna is placed. The devotion to the Madonna of Leuca reaches every corner of Europe, from Poland to France, as evidenced by the pilgrims’ records. According to a popular legend, in fact, visiting the sanctuary means making the first step towards Paradise.

A few steps from the sanctuary stands the octagonal tower of the Lighthouse of Santa Maria di Leuca. Located at 47 meters above sea level, 102 meters above sea level, the lighthouse is active since 1866. The 16-lane lantern projects a light beam 50 km away.

santa_maria_leuca

From the circular terrace of the tower, accessible with a staircase of 254 steps, you can enjoy an extraordinary panorama, from which you can admire the mountains of Albania, the West of Calabria and, looking south, you can see Corfu. You can only visit the lighthouse on certain days of the year. For more information, please visit the site of Santa Maria di Leuca.