We commence our journey through Puglia's Salento region in Lecce, the undisputed capital of Italian Baroque. At the heart of the central Piazza Duomo, lies the Cathedral with its splendid portal by Giacomo Manzù. To the left of the cathedral, there is the 70 meter high bell tower, from the summit of which a magnificent view of the Adriatic sea can be seen. On particularly clear days, the view extends as far as the distant mountains of Albania. Next to the Episcopio, the residence of the arch bishop, there is the monumental Palazzo del Seminario. Despite the fact that the buildings surrounding it were realised in diverse periods, the piazza has a surprisingly harmonious appearance.

From Lecce we travel westward so as to reach Porto Cesareo, a small peninsula on the Ionic coast, positioned between the Gulfs of Taranto and Gallipoli. This is one of the Salento's most famous bathing resorts, renowned for its crystal clear sea and its magnificent 17km long beach of soft fine sand. Less than a kilometer from the main land, in warm, shallow waters rarely more than a meter deep, lies the Isola Grande, also known as the Isola dei Conigli. The island is part of a group of tiny little islets and a true paradise for scuba divers.
Porto Cesareo boasts a marine reserve which extends for some 7 miles out to sea. All those with a passion for marine biology, should take time to visit the reserve's Marine Biology Station and the museum housing an amazing collection of rare breeds of fish and sub-tropical sea creatures.

Situated on the stretch of coast which leads to Gallipoli and in the vicinity of the Park of Porto Selvaggio, the Grotta del Cavallo and Grotta di Uluzzo are two fascinating karst caves in which the remains of large mammals dating back to the Palaeolithic age were found. This discovery, made in the early 1960's, obliged historians to almost completely rewrite the pre-historic geography of the area.

Gallipoli, from the Greek kalè polis (beautiful city), is often fondly referred to as the pearl of the Ionian sea. The historic center of Gallipoli is situated on a little island and linked to the mainland by an enchanting 17th century bridge. Lying approximately one mile from the coast, the Island of Sant'Andrea is of notable historical and environmental importance. To visit: the Castle, the Cathedral of St Agata and the Fontana Greca or Greek Fountain which, in realty, dates back not to the Greek but renaissance period. The town of Gallipoli represents another of the Salento's unique linguistic islands, where the gallipolino dialect is still widely spoken.

Any tour of Salento should provide ample occasion to taste the region's gastronomic specialities and enjoy southern Puglia's vibrant night scene. Gallipoli, with its numerous restaurants and discotheques, is the perfect place for both.