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Salento (Salentu in the Salentino dialect) is a geographic region at the southern end of the administrative region of Apulia in Southern Italy. It is a sub-peninsula of the Italian Peninsula, sometimes described as the "heel" of the Italian "boot". It encompasses the entire administrative area of the province of Lecce, a large part of the province of Brindisi and part of that of Taranto.

The peninsula is also known as Terra d'Otranto, and in the past Sallentina. In ancient times it was called variously Calabria or Messapia.


Messapia (from Greek Μεσσαπία) was the ancient name of a region of Italy largely corresponding to modern Salento. It was inhabited chiefly by the Messapii in classical times. Pokorny derives the toponym from the reconstructed PIE *medhyo-, "middle" and PIE *ap-, "water" (Mess-apia, "amid waters"). Pokorny compares the toponym Messapia to another ancient Italic toponym, Salapia, "salt water", a city in Apulia.


Beach in Conca Specchiulla, north of Otranto.
Otranto harbour.

Salento peninsula is composed of limestone, dividing the Adriatic Sea from the Ionian Sea. Known also as "peninsula salentina", from a geo-morphologic point of view it encompasses the land borders between Ionian and the Adriatic Seas, to the “Messapic threshold”, a depression that runs along the Taranto-Ostuni line and separates it from the Murge.

Its borders are:

Cities and towns in SalentoEdit

Province of LecceEdit

Acquarica del Capo, Alessano, Alezio, Alliste, Andrano, Aradeo, Arnesano, Bagnolo del Salento, Botrugno, Calimera, Campi Salentina, Cannole, Caprarica di Lecce, Carmiano, Carpignano Salentino, Casarano, Castri di Lecce, Castrignano de' Greci, Castrignano del Capo, Castro, Cavallino, Collepasso, Copertino, Corigliano d'Otranto, Corsano, Cursi, Cutrofiano, Diso, Gagliano del Capo, Galatina, Galatone, Gallipoli, Giuggianello, Giurdignano, Guagnano, Lecce, Lequile, Leverano, Lizzanello, Maglie, Martano, Martignano, Matino, Melendugno, Melissano, Melpignano, Miggiano, Minervino di Lecce, Monteroni di Lecce, Montesano Salentino, Morciano di Leuca, Muro Leccese, Nardò, Neviano, Nociglia, Novoli, Ortelle, Otranto, Palmariggi, Parabita, Patù, Poggiardo, Porto Cesareo, Presicce, Racale, Ruffano, Salice Salentino, Salve, San Cassiano, San Cesario di Lecce, San Donato di Lecce, San Pietro in Lama, Sanarica, Sannicola, Santa Cesarea Terme, Scorrano, Seclì, Sogliano Cavour, Soleto, Specchia, Spongano, Squinzano, Sternatia, Supersano, Surano, Surbo, Taurisano, Taviano, Tiggiano, Trepuzzi, Tricase, Tuglie, Ugento, Uggiano la Chiesa, Veglie, Vernole, Zollino.

Province of BrindisiEdit

Brindisi, Carovigno, Cellino San Marco, Erchie, Francavilla Fontana, Latiano, Mesagne, Oria, Ostuni, San Donaci, San Michele Salentino, San Pancrazio Salentino, San Pietro Vernotico, San Vito dei Normanni, Torchiarolo, Torre Santa Susanna, Villa Castelli.

Province of TarantoEdit

Avetrana, Carosino, Faggiano, Fragagnano, Grottaglie, Leporano, Lizzano, Manduria, Maruggio, Monteiasi, Monteparano, Pulsano, Roccaforzata, San Giorgio Ionico, San Marzano di San Giuseppe, Sava, Torricella.


Salento, from a cultural and linguistic point of view, does not include the city of Taranto, where the Tarantino dialect is spoken, nor the part of the province of Taranto to the west of the city (where Pugliese is the dialect generally spoken), nor the rest of the province of Brindisi to north of Ostuni (where the accent is influenced by the dialect of Bari).

To the south and east of the above areas, the Sicilian dialect of Salentino is spoken, as well as a Hellenic dialect known as Griko – a Greek variety.


The nearest international airports are those of Brindisi and Bari (the latter is out of Salento but not far).

A 2-lane freeway connects Salento to Bari. The main railway line ends at Lecce. Other locations are served by regional railroads.

Leisure ports are those of: Taranto, Brindisi, Campomarino di Maruggio's tourist and leisure Marina, Gallipoli, Santa Maria di Leuca, Otranto.

Coastal towersEdit

The coastal towers in Salento are coastal watchtowers, as the peninsula's coast was long subject to maritime attacks by the saracens. The first towers may have been Norman. The remaining historic towers are mostly from the 15th and 16th centuries. Many are now in ruins.[1][2][3]

Food and GastronomyEdit

Salento area recipes are highly appreciated for their flavors that recall the region tradition.

Some of the most popular and flavoursome recipes are:

  • Orecchiette, hand-made pasta cooked with tomato sauce and a strong taste creamy cheese called ricotta schianta or with turnips;
  • Parmigiana di melanzane, made by aubergines and tomato sauce;
  • Pitta di patate, a salty pie made by mashed potatoes;
  • Turcinieddhri, meat;
  • Purciaddruzzi, fried hand made sweet small cookies with honey, made during the Christmas Holidays.


During about the last 20 years, the local economy raises due to the tourism increase.

A very popular touristic slogan became: Salentu: lu sule, lu mare, lu ientu (Translation: Salento: sun, sea, wind);

This expression is strictly connected to the Salento weather conditions: it means that in this area is often sunny and windy at the same time. It also connected to the geographic nature of this area, a peninsula where it is possible to reach two different seas, Adriatic and Ionian, in a small kilometres range.


View of Torre Sant'Andrea, part of Melendugno's "marina".
Alimini Grande Lake, near Otranto.

See alsoEdit


  Media related to Coastal towers in Apulia at Wikimedia Commons   Media related to Salento at Wikimedia Commons   Salento (Italy) travel guide from Wikivoyage

  1. ^ "The Towers Of Salento in Apulia - South Italy". Nel Salento. Retrieved 2009-08-17.
  2. ^ "The vacances dans les Pouilles - Italy". Retrieved 2005-01-10.
  3. ^ "The beaches of Pouilles - Italy". Retrieved 2018-06-20.

Coordinates: 40°20′00″N 18°00′00″E / 40.33333°N 18.00000°E / 40.33333; 18.00000