In April, 2022, along with a group of other American women I enjoyed a lovely hike to Faro di Punta Palascia in Italy. Faro di Punta Palascia is an active lighthouse located at the most eastern point of Italy. You can drive or hike to it. It is near the town of Otranto in the Puglia region which is Italy’s heal of the boot. The hike is beautiful as it follows the Straight of Otranto along the Adriatic Sea. We also enjoyed eating at a farm that produces cheese and afterwards continued through the countryside back to Otranto.
Torre del Serpe
We left our hotel and headed for the Otranto Port and seaside where we would hike until we reached the Otranto-Leuca Coast Natural Park Trail. The trail starts at the Torre del Serpe which simply means Serpent Tower. Originally built as a watchtower in the Roman Times and possibly dating to the 12th century, the Serpent Tower is now in ruins. It is so named after a legend dating back to 1480. There had been many shipwrecks in the area. Legend has it the tower had been used as a lighthouse and a serpent would crawl up the tower to drink the oil from the lights causing the light to go out, therefore resulting in the shore being in darkness. The darkness resulted in many ships crashing on to the rocky shore.
We continued walking towards the lighthouse and could see it in the distance. The path at this point was an easy dirt path with few rocks. A nice pleasant walk along the sea. We also passed WWII bunkers, abandoned and in ruins.
Continuing on the Way
As we continued, we passed so many beautiful coastal views. The trail started to become a bit more difficult, but still very doable. Our guide pointed out different flowers and areas of interest.
Not an Easy Walk in the Park
As we progressed toward the lighthouse, the trail became much more difficult. I have hiked a lot and I would rate the last part of the trail as moderate to difficult depending on your skill level. This hike was challenging because the path was rocky with a lot of climbing up and over rocks, at times the trail was nonexistent and we were totally exposed to the sun. From my experience a typical coastal hike. Hiking shoes would have been helpful. This is not an appropriate hike for those with mobility problems.
Most of us did fine on this hike, but did find it challenging and not what we were planning. Unfortunately one of our group truly struggled and needed assistance to finish the hike. Therefore, our hike took hours longer than any of us had been planning and we ran short of water. I will admit, in the middle of nowhere, in a foreign country, with no other people around, this was quite concerning and it took away from the experience. Not only that, we were all very worried about our travel companion.
I was so excited when I reached the lighthouse with most of the group. The Punta Palascia lighthouse stands grandly on the Eastern most point of Italy and was worth the hike. When looking out towards the sea, the Ionian Sea is to the right and the Adriatic Sea is to the left.
We waited here for the other members of the group who were helping the gal struggling. Our tour guide was of course with her and I tried to contact our guide via cellphone to no avail. (My cellphone was picking up a Greece Network! ) One of our group decided to head back and check on them and I went with her. We had just started out when my text went through and I received a text back that they were fine, just slow. Our guide sent me GPS directions to our next destination. So those of us there, followed the directions and shortly arrived at our next stop that included lunch and wine!!
Lunch and Wine
The walk to where we had lunch and wine was only about 20 minutes and along a road so all was well. When we arrived at Masseria Le Creste I was absolutely famished! This place was absolutely amazing! A Masseria is like a farm complex and they grow most of the food served here. Masseria Le Crete also makes their own cheese.
Since we were running late, they had held lunch for us and served us pitchers of water and wine when we arrived. Both went down very well! As accustomed, they brought us large amounts of fresh food that was absolutely wonderful. This was one of my favorite places I ate in Puglia and would highly recommend. The rest of the group had arrived and thankfully the gal who had struggled was doing ok.
Cava di Bauxite
After we had our fill of food and wine, I felt rejuvenated and off we were walking again towards our hotel in Otranto. This time we were following small dirt roads and walking paths more inland. The walk was easy and I enjoyed the countryside.
Our last stop was at Cava di Bauxite. This is a beautiful small lake setting surrounded by colorful rocks and lush greenery. Once the site of a cave, this area became a quarry from 1940-1972. Once abandoned the area rejuvenated itself to this beautiful green lake with red rock surrounding it.
Back in Otranto
We continued back to Otranto without any difficulty. We briefly stopped by entry stairs to a church on a hill. My curiosity had the best of me so I had to run up the steps to take a quick photo because of the history. This church was built on the hill called Minerva Hill. Here is where the 800 martyrs were executed at in 1480 when Turkish troops occupied the town. The commander ordered all men over 15 up this hill and told them if they denounced Catholicism he would spare their lives. None of the men did so they were all beheaded. Their bones were later encased in the altar at the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary in Otranto which I wrote about in my last blog post which you can read here.
We returned to our hotel and had time to freshen up before dinner. Dinner this evening was in our hotel, Corte di Nettuno. Once again, wine was served and I definitely enjoyed it. The meal was good as well, although I was pretty exhausted and was anxious to get to bed as the next day would be another full day of walking and site seeing!
Although this day started with a hike that was a bit more than I had expected I still thoroughly enjoyed it. Regardless of the difficulty, the hike to Punta Palascia was definitely one of my favorite days on this trip to Italy.
Data per my Fitbit
Total Steps: 33,538
Total Miles: 13.09
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