Summer arrived quite abruptly in many parts of Italy, with temperatures skyrocketing into the 90sonly in recent weeks after an unseasonably cool, wet spring. Fortunately, a lovely, fresh wind from north is keeping the heat in check and, as locals know, that makes for perfect weather to enjoy the beautiful beaches bordering the Adriatic coastline to the East.
Summer in South Italy: beauty and beach
When Southern Italians actually do start their summer and beach season – their cars tuned up and packed with beach chairs, towels, hats, sunscreen, books and a cooler overflowing with food – the only Big Question that remains is: which beach? The answer lies in a quick check of which direction the wind is blowing that day. Is it the crisp Tramontana wind from the north? Then they’re off to one of the gorgeous beaches along the Ionian Sea. Is it the balmy, southern Scirocco? In that case, better to head to the Adriatic. As we say in Puglia: “Va dove ti porta il vento”; “Go where the wind takes you!” Heed this advice and you’ll enjoy calm seas and perfect beach weather, all summer long.
Summer: still can’t decide where to go?
Just head south to where the two seas meet: Santa Maria di Leuca!
It’s the port town at the tip of the peninsula whose rocky bluff, Punta Melisio, peeps out over the crystalline waters below. It’s from there that you can actually make out the border where the Ionian and the Adriatic converge.
How is that possible you ask? Differences in the salinity of the water change its color, making it possible to identify a real line of demarcation. A similar phenomenon can be seen only in a few other places in the world, for example in the Gulf of Alaska, in New Zealand and in Greece.
Awesome as that may be, that’s actually not the only thing taking place in the waters off of Leuca!
Salento, the peninsula that makes up the heel of the Italian boot, has a rich “alternative” history that you won’t find in any history book. It’s made up of dozens of stories handed down orally, from generation to generation. A particularly beautiful one is that of Leucasia, the white mermaid. Legend has it that one day while swimming she caught a glimpse of Melisso the shepherd and fell hopelessly in love with him. He, however, was already in love with Aristula. So to get her revenge, legend has it that Leucasia drummed up a storm and Melisso was drowned. The goddess Minerva took pity on the separated lovers, turning them into cliffs which were named Punta Meliso and Punta Ristola, and, as a punishment, Leucasia was turned into the city of Leuca.
The sculptures standing at the port of Santa Maria di Leuca known as the Trittico della Trascendenza, were inspired by this story.
Visit Puglia and Basilicata
And while the beaches are an excellent reason to visit Puglia and Basilicata, that’s only the beginning! Excellent wine and deliciously seasonal dishes are the order of the day here, and, come late summer, the raison d’être for celebrations far and wide.
There’s honestly no better time to immerse oneself in local food culture and enjoy the bounty of the harvest season. Come join us for Puglia’s Grape Harvest: Let’s Wine and Dine!, September 1st – September 9thto participate in grape picking, pasta-making, and savoring the best of the delicacies of land and sea.
Late summer as well as autumn are truly amazing in Southern Italy, as the summer heat has subsided to a comfortably warm embrace and the majority of tourists have retreated homeward. Nature is tinged with warm colors, from orange to chestnut, to the reds of fiery sunsets and ripe apples. Salento beats to the rhythms of harvest time, and traditions abound in “capturing” the delights of the season in the form of preserves, jams, and liqueurs, so that even in the dead of winter, a reminiscent taste of summer can still be savored.
Though Apulian vintages are now gaining their recognition on the Italian wine scene, this wasn’t always the case. Despite Puglia’s ancient wine-making tradition, production was nearly always focused on small-scale, homemade wines for either local consumption or export to Northern Italian supermarkets.
September is still summer in South Italy
However, winemaking in Puglia has undergone a veritable revolution in recent years. Overall quality has improved dramatically thanks to a number of reputable producers who have shifted from bulk red production to more exclusive, elegant wines. Some of them have even restored local historic wineries, giving visitors a chance to enjoy historical and contemporary permanent exhibits.
This September, not only will you participate in a hands-on wine-making experience, but you’ll also become a savvy wine-taster thanks to guided food and wine pairings which will take place in settings like wine cellars transformed into museums!
Places of wonder that offer a one-of-a-kind atmosphere!
And while you’ll be based in Lecce, a.k.a “the Florence of the South” and will experience the harvest season in Puglia amongst the backdrop of the Southeast’s most whimsical towns,
you’ll also visit the fairytale town of Alberobello, where you’ll get to spend a night in your very own trullo; the 9,000-year-old city of Matera; Ostuni, the “white city”; Gallipoli, and an excursion by boat into the grottoes around the Cape of Salento.
Need more reasons to come? You’ll also savor an enchanting dinner on the grounds of a centuries-old masseria– a typical farmhouse where everything – and we mean everything– is made from scratch and sourced locally on-site. In addition you’ll enjoy a private cooking class that takes you behind the scenes and into the kitchen, where you’ll learn to make homemade pasta and other regional specialties.
Don’t miss your chance to make this the year you finally visit Southern Italy! Click here to make a reservation or to reach out to us with any questions you might have.
Not ready yet? Check out our October tour, In Search of Green Gold: the Journey from Olive to EVOO, October 30th – November 7th 2019. which focuses on the region’s millenary olive oil making tradition.
If you can’t catch up with us this year, take a look at our 2020 dates! And don’t forget that you can enjoy $150 off the total package price when you book at least six months in advance.