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Travel:Puglia, Santa Maria di Leuca Oct. 15/2023



A continuation of a trip that started on Oct 3rd/2023


Napoli - Oct 3rd (part 1)   Trulli Land Oct. 8th (part 6)

Capri - Oct 4th (part 2). Ostuni - Oct. 9th. (part 7)

Sorrento- oct 5th (part 3). Polignanao-Mare-   (part 8)

Positano Oct 6th (part 4). Gallipoli -Oct 14-17. (part 9)

Matera. - Oct 7th (part 5)





The one hour drive from Gallipoli to Santa Maria di Leuca - the lowest tip-point of the geographical "heel" of the Italian peninsula, is also where the waters from the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea , meet.



According to a 17th c writer, the town takes its name from "Leucasia", a white beautiful mermaid (ancient Greek - white, bright) who conquered Greek sailors and farmers by her charming voice found peace on the coast's reef.


.The sailors, attracted by the geographical beauty named it Leukos - lit by the Sun.


Positioned in the inlet between “Punta Meliso” and “Punta Ristola”. the town was founded, in fact in the early 1st AD by some monks, after Saint Peter's passage. A cross was built in his honor and after some restructurings, still be there.

According to a later legend, Virgin Mary once saved some boats from a storm, and her name was added to that of Leuca..


Di Leuca as it known for short, is one of 3 Villages: that along with Giuliano and Salignano. are part of the comune of Castrignano del Capo, in the Salento peninsula.


The beauty and light, of this the fishing and resort town. has always fascinated visitors


S. Maria di Leuca rises on the Japigio promontory on the extreme tip of the spur of Italy which ends on the high rocks of “Punta Meliso “, precisely where the Ionian sea and the Adriatic sea meet and mix . and provides a rare spectacle: of the sunrise in the waters of the Adriatic sea and the sunset in the Ionian sea.

In this point the continuous currents seem to plough the sea so much as that it is possible to see a diversity of colors in the water.





The territory around the bay is a Regional Natural Coastal Park of "Costa Otranto"

The Hidden coves and inlets, and a sea that is blue like no other., and numerous grottoes with Latin and Greek inscriptions are absolutely stunning


Prehistoric remains have been found in some the about 66 caves of the coast of Leuca, like Grotta Porcinara and Grotta del Diavolo.



Also St. Pietro disembarked in Leuca during his journey to Rome. He christianized the existing pagan temple devoted to the Goddess Minerva and devoted it to the Virgin Mary.


Leuca so became Santa Maria di Leuca and for the Christians it is the door to Heaven. De Finibus Terrae for the Romans, border beyond which there is only the infinity of the horizon.



During its millenary history the town now of about 1000 inhabitants, has preserved and enriched its charm and its mystery, and became an attraction to many.



Famous are the 19th c gorgeous patrician villas , stunning architecture and colorful







The promenade in center of town next to the popular town's beach








Santa Maria di Leuca is also famous for its iconic lighthouse. With its height of 47 metres, and position at 102 m above sea level, It is the second most important lighthouse in Italy, after Genova.






Basilica Santuario de Finibus Terrane a Leucawas fortified in 1700 to protect against Turkish and Saracen assaults,

This very tip of Italy’s heel, a border land with the sea has always been consecrated to the divine.



The church stands on the remains of a temple dedicated to Minerva overlooks the beautiful rocky cape from which the islands of Greece can be glimpsed on the horizon,



Shores of Light,

After World War II the town hosted Jewish Holocaust survivors for 2 years (1946-1948), Refugees were from Albania, Greece, and Yugoslavia giving them warm hospitality.

About 1,400 Jewish refugees and 400 non-Jewish ones arrived and housed in villas that were seized by the Allies,



The only mixed (Jewish and non-Jewish) displaced persons (DP) camp in Italy was located here .Their care was overseen by the United Nations Relief & Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.


The survivors frolicked in the ocean, formed soccer teams and Zionist factions, even sang in church choirs, and were preoccupied with another leisure activity ..

Between those 2 years, an unparalleled, European Jewish life was reborn in this camp Some 200 babies were born in the village to Jewish refugees.

About half the children were eventually taken Israel, with the rest scattered to the United States, Canada and elsewhere.



Museo della Memoria e dell’accoglienza -

Santa Maria al Bagno has housed the "Museum of Memory and Welcome" since 2009. The building was designed by architect Luca Zevi who converted a former school: it consists of three halls displaying the stories of the Holocaust survivors.



Lungomare Alfonso Lamarmora, 73050 – Santa Maria al Bagno, Nardò

Tel. +39 327 0598591Email: museodellamemoria.reset@gmail.com


’האור בקצה המגף’.

A film about the  DP of Santa Maria di Leuca, entitled Shores of Light,

was released In 2015,

It was named originally in Hebrew

"The Light at the end of the boot"


The very moving documentary which I highly recommend, presents the story of 3 Israeli women, born in the camp, who decide to return to learn about the experiences of their parents.

Director Yael Katzir states, “The film weaves rare historical footage with unique current testimonials capturing a ray of light after great darkness.”  (synopsis)




The most enjoyable, half a day visit, to this enchanting town at the end of the Italian boot, was spent by "inhaling" the spectacular coastline's views, walking off the main road's widening paths along the coast above the coves, strolling the promenade by the beach, and sampling late lunch, before returning to Gallipoli, at a fabulous local Restaurant :


Mattia Cordella - Sea Food

Località Ciardo +39 377 3571 596 Mattiacordellacucinadimare@gmail.com



The place has an all glass indoors sitting, as well as an outdoors's beautiful garden sitting


This beautiful restaurant, about 2 miles away from town's center, on the coast, provides not just an excellent food, but stunning views and mesmerizing sun downs







To be continued.......






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