Today, we go to Apulia to discover the land of the centuries-old olive trees: Salento!
The “Penisola Salentina” and its PDO oils
The “Penisola Salentina” includes the entire Lecce province, the central-southern area of the Brindisi province, and the southern part of the Taranto province. The “Terra D’Otranto PDO” is one of the Designation of Origin oils from Salento, it is produced throughout the Lecce province and in some towns of the Taranto and Brindisi provinces. Also, there is the “Colline di Brindisi PDO,” which is produced in some Brindisi province towns, including “San Michele Salentino,” in the north of the Salento territory.
What to see in Salento
Tasting food in its beginning territory is a different story. Here are some places to visit where you can also find the Salento PDO oils!
In the northern Salento territory, there is the “Piana degli Ulivi Secolari,” a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a suggestive area full of numerous monumental olive trees protected by the “Parco Agrario degli Ulivi” which has an extremely high concentration of millennial plants that gives life to the oldest arboreal landscape in the world. It is an eternal landscape which remained intact over the centuries. These branches and trunks are imbued with history because these same olive trees have seen the Normans, the Aragonese, the Angevins, the Spaniards, the Bourbons, and the Piedmontese.
Then, we move to Lecce, the most important city of Salento. Don’t miss the 12th-century Monastery belonged to the Olivetan Monks whose “motto” explains their name:
“But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in the loving devotion of God forever and ever.”
The Monastery, in which you can admire the peculiar “pozzo-baldacchino” with Solomonic columns and dome positioned between two cloisters, nowadays houses the University of Salento Department of Cultural Heritage.
And if you have other time to spend in this beautiful city, just go to “Piazza Sant’Oronzo” and you will find the 17th-century Colonna di Sant’Oronzo, the churches of “San Marco” and “Santa Maria Delle Grazie”, the famous Roman Amphitheater, and the “Palazzo del Seggio.”
You can’t miss Otranto too from which, according to legend, St. Peter passed by on his way from Palestine to Rome. In fact, the Byzantine church of “San Pietro” is one of the most interesting places to visit. But don’t forget to see the Aragonese Castle (dating back to 1400) of both historical and literary interest: in 1764, Horace Walpole entitled one of his works “The Castle of Otranto,” and it is considered the first Gothic novel in history.
Salento also means crystalline sea and amazing beaches; one above all: “Punta della Suina,” in Gallipoli, also called “the Caribbean of the Ionian see.” This beach has two side bays that create a large natural pool with shallow seabeds of light sand. Furthermore, from the rock that stretches out to the sea, you can admire beautiful sunsets.