I was enchanted and amazed when I came upon the blog, A New Life in Italy (Puglia in Fact). The posts are hilarious–from Isabelle Duranceau Jowett–a French Canadian who moved to the UK in 1997 to pursue a career in motorsport marketing, which lead to a career in event marketing and sponsorship (Formula One then Coca-Cola), a husband, and two children…
As if that’s not enough for one life’s adventure, in 2006, Izzy and her family headed to Puglia for a better life and to build a dream: a glampsite in Castrignano del Capo, just up the hill from the seaside town of Leuca, in the province of Salento. From the looks of her Facebook photos, the glamorous campsite is coming along quite wonderfully…Deluxe tents are set up so you have views of the sparkling turquoise sea.
It’s an ideal spot for families to relax, with plenty of activities for children. A few minutes away are white sandy beaches—aka The Maldives of Italy.
There’s a trampoline, swimming pool, tree house, BBQ and fire pits, rows of olive trees, 7 kittens and two dogs.
And hammocks…this one is calling my name…
I’m so grateful Izzy has joined in to give advice for a Golden Day in Leuca:
Leuca is where two seas meet: the Adriatic and the Ionian.
A good place to start the day is the town’s busiest social spot, Martinucci, (Tommaso Fuortes 6, 73040 Santa Maria di Leuca). They have good coffee, yummy gelato and cakes, though like many places in Southern Italy, smiling staff is not guaranteed…
A not to be missed sight in town is the Basilica-Santuario della Madonna di Leuca de Finibus Terrae (‘End of The Land’) and its iconic lighthouse.
If you’re feeling energetic, get there by taking the 284-step staircase by Punta Meliso, that runs along the (dry) cascade which used to be the final point of the impressive Apulian Aqueduct (Acquedotto Pugliese). Or, drive up to the Santuario…
This has been a sacred place since Roman times, when a temple dedicated to Minerva was built here. The Basilica was built over it, to commemorate the passage of St Peter here, during his travel to Italy. The view from the Santuario piazza down onto Leuca Harbour is magnificent.
A stroll around Leuca and along ‘Lungomare’ (approx 2km across the Leuca Bay, from the Marina near Punta Meliso all the way up to Punta Ristola) gives a chance to discover so many grand and beautiful 19th century villas.
If you’re a bit more adventurous and can handle a rather challenging descent, you will find heaven rather than hell down by the ‘Devil’s Cave’: A ‘rock beach’ as the Italians love them, where you can dive into the sea and enjoy some snorkeling in the surrounding caves. The access path can be found at Punta Ristola, next to the wooden press kiosk.
Alternatively, visit the Grotta del Diavolo on a boat tour, with Colaci Nautica (Via Doppia Croce, Porto Vecchio, call Luigi Colaci 0833 758 609). They’ll take you to see fascinating caves all along the beautiful Ionian coast. For more info about the caves in the area, click here.
If you’re looking for a delightful place to cool off, head to Punta Meliso, (via Pineta, Santa Maria di Leuca), a pine park near the staircase to the Santuario. There is good food and a bar there.
Many restaurants in Leuca are rather touristy, so it’s best to go off the trail a bit. Trattoria Tatanka (just out past Punta Ristola on the ‘strada litoranea Leuca-Gallipoli’, Tel: 340 343 6909), offers a beautiful terrace, very friendly service, and a splendid view. The food is tasty and a good value for your money. Order the fresh fish-try their grilled calamari.
Or there is Cafe do Mar (via Bolzano, Santa Maria di Leuca , 0833 758 238). This is a lovely cafe/restaurant with good seafood and pasta – try their antipasto di mare, even their plain sugo pasta tastes great! It’s also great for sunset aperitivo.
We’d love to have you join us 7.5km away from Leuca, at Puglia Glamping, but if you prefer a hotel, the Messapia Hotel & Resort is the top hotel in Leuca, with great facilities, ample rooms and a big swimming pool. All you need is on site and it has easy access to all other Leuca hot spots. Ask for Anja for a wonderful relaxing massage at their SPA.
Or, for a more personal experience, check into Mareincantato Bed & Breakfast. It’s at the Leuca marina, and the wonderful and friendly owners, Ippazio & Caterina, will ensure you have a pleasant stay
Finally, here’s a few pointers for your visit:
- Brush up your Italian or try to learn a few key words before you visit – they don’t do English much down here!
- Don’t forget Italian opening hours – especially if you have young toddlers – everything shuts in the afternoon (1pm/1:30pm to 5pm/5:30pm), and there are not much dinner options before 7pm if not 8pm, so make sure you have basic necessities, snacks and drinks.
- Unless you like massive crowds, avoid the second week of August (around 15th), as the whole of Italy and France seem to be here.
- Souvenirs: pasta (orecchiette) and traditional ceramic dishes and craft are my favourites and of course the best olive oil.
Grazie mille Izzy, and please save a place for me in that hammock…