Exploring the Salento: a guided tour of the Grotte di Leuca

Exploring the Salento: a guided tour of the Grotte di Leuca

The Salento is found to the south of Italy’s Apulia region and it is set apart by its history, local traditions, good food and dream-worthy beaches.

The large swathe of territory it covers, which spans from the coasts to the strategic point of the ‘heel’, encloses a form of beauty, and – dare we say poetry – that seaside towns, in particular, are able to convey.

Amidst these seaside towns, one of the most popular destinations has to be the famous Grotte di Santa Maria di Leuca, the caves that attract droves of Italian and international tourists during the summer months.

The Grotte di Leuca

Around 30 limestone caves have been found throughout the lower part of the Salento and within the Leuca area. They often boast extremely quirky names, which have been given to them over time by the person who linked every cave to a story or to a detail that distinguished them.

For the sake of convenience, the caves are divided into two large areas: the eastern caves, which are found on the Adriatic Coast, and the western caves, which are located on the Ionian Coast.

One of the distinctive features of these sea caves is that the water changes colour depending on when you visit them, refracting the light in utterly unique ways.

So, we recommend visiting the caves at different times of the day so you can get to see all the myriad of ways the light refracts and dances on the water.

When should you visit the caves?

  • Adriatic Coast: Eastern Caves. On the eastern side, the cliffs are towering and jagged. They sometimes prove difficult for amateurs, as they descend sharply into the Adriatic Sea. We recommend visiting these marvels at sunrise so you can admire their beauty and the nuances of colour that the crystal clear water takes on.

Out of the many there are to see, one cave worth visiting is Grotta Cazzafrì, which is filled with stalactites and can only be reached by boat.

  • Ionian Coast: Western Caves. There are small sandy beaches to the west that block low rocks, as well as long stretches of beach boasting golden yellow sand.

On this coast, the caves are particularly picturesque in the afternoon thanks to the effect created by the refracted light.

Of all the caves on the Ionian Coast, we recommend the Grotta del Diavolo. Its extremely unusual name – quite literally Devil’s Cave – came about due to the loud roars that the waves make when crashing against the rocks.

No matter which side you choose, we are sure that you will be charmed by the natural spectacle that the Grotte di Leuca have to offer.  There are many excursions that are organised precisely to visit these natural wonders.

You will be accompanied by expert guides who will tell you all about the stories and fun facts that lie behind the history of these caves: a unique way to experience the Salento from a new perspective!