Sea caves, age-old architecture, and a sandy beach.

Town between two seas

You’ll find Santa Maria di Leuca – or Leuca – right at the tip of Italy’s heel, where the Adriatic Sea meets the Ionian. Puglians have been flocking here since the start of the 20th century – you’ll see evidence of this in the colourful Art Nouveau villas sprinkled along the waterfront. What’s more, the seaside town has a couple of other shout-about features, including a manmade waterfall and a striking lighthouse.

Cliff-defined coast

Leuca’s craggy shoreline has been the inspiration for several artists, including the Roman Poet, Virgil. He described the dramatic cliffs punctuated with grottoes – one of which is shaped like a dragon. You can easily see them all on a boat trip. Plus, there’s a sandy swathe in the heart of the town, and you can reach the patches at Posto Vecchio, Torre Vado and Pescoluse within 15 minutes’ drive.

Ancient artefacts

History certainly isn’t in short supply in Santa Maria di Leuca. In fact, there are reminders to the past practically everywhere you turn. The town’s basilica stands on the site of a Roman temple. Legend has it, the building was declared sacred by none other than St Peter himself. The coastal caves are brimming with tales, too. Greek, Phoenician and Cretan inscriptions have all been found inside, along with the remains of an elephant, a rhino, and a Stone Age human tooth.

At a Glance

  • Visit the Fjord del Ciolo
  • Take a boat trip to the sea grottoes
  • See the end of the Puglia aqueduct