During my April 2022 hiking/walking trip through the Puglia, Italy area, one day we walked through the Capo di Leuca area. I had joined a group from the states for a walking tour of the heal of the boot in Italy. We had walked and hiked a lot on this trip and this day was an easy walking day compared to the last two days. We walked through small villages, ruins, past fields and wildflowers, and churches. It was a lovely day and we covered a lot.
Castrignano del Capo
We left Santa Maria di Leuca in the morning and walked north to the town of Castrignano del Capo. This town is about halfway between the Ionian Sea and Adriatic Sea. The oldest district of this town is called the Borgo Terra District and was originally feudal land dating back to 1280 AD. As we walked through the ancient streets, I was in awe of the architecture.
Retro, Almond Paste Workshop
In Castrignano del Capo we stopped at Retro, an Almond Paste Workshop where the proprietor, Salvatore taught us the art of making Almond Paste Cookies. They were amazing. Salvatore took the time and showed us true hospitality while he taught us his craft. From my understanding, the building itself is a 1641 home.
On Our Way to Patu
After enjoying the delicious almond paste goodies we continued walking through the Puglia countryside in the Capo di Leuca area. Again, it was a pleasant walk with plenty of wildflowers along the way. Our next stop was in the tiny village of Patu.
This ancient funerary building is so named as it is made from 100 stones, although I have read that there are now only 99 stones making up this building. Built in 9th century as a mausoleum for General Geminanio who died in battle in 877AD, it is amazing it still stands.
In the 14th century it was used by monks who added now faded frescoes to the walls. If you look close and long enough you can see these were frescoes of religious people.
Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista
This church is just across the lawn from the Centopietre. Originally built in the 9th century as a remembrance of the fierce battle between the Christians and the Mori. This simple church has had many changes to it over there years but has mostly maintained it’s original layout. The frescoes, although faded, can be seen and I felt the church had a very peaceful and reverent vibe to it.
Santuario Leuca Piccola
After spending time at the church and funerary we continued through the village and along the country roads until we reached the Santuario Leuca Piccola.
This was a very unique complex as it was a place where the faithful would stop during pilgrimages (I have still not found out where they were pilgrimaging from or to). The pilgrims would stay here and rest until continuing their journey. The church, Santa Maria di Leuca del Belvedere, was built in 1685 and again showcased aging frescoes.
Beneath the church is a dug out cave, where pilgrims would stay over night on the rock ledges. There are three wells in the cave so they could refill their supply as well. Kind of a medieval hotel. I thought it was a bit creepy and no way would I have spent the night down there.
I enjoyed climbing above the church to the belfry much more than going beneath the church. The view was pretty cool.
Outside of the church, across the streets are the arched remains of the stables where the pilgrims horses would also get their rest.
After a busy morning and early afternoon we were picked up by van and driven to our next destination. It was time to stop for a light lunch and wine tasting. The little village of Felline is where we enjoyed wine and food at Vite Colta. It was all good and certainly hit the spot. We then drove to our final destination for the day.
Santa Maria al Bagno
We arrived at Santa Maria al Bagno late afternoon and much to mine, and I think everyones delight, we were given about an hour and a half to two hours of free time until dinner. The trip has been fun, but to be honest, we had every hour scheduled together from the time we finished breakfast and until the time we finished dinner which was often well bast 10 pm. I don’t think any of us were prepared for this type of trip, as what had been advertised and sold to us was a trip with many afternoons and also some evenings to ourselves. Regardless, I was still enjoying the trip and loved our Italian guide.
I decided instead of resting I would take a walk along the sea and then down to a castle ruin. Another of the travelers joined me and I had a wonderful time. The sea was just beautiful and had the weather been warmer I would have loved to jump in. There was an old WWII bunker along the seaside which I found fascinating.
I also enjoyed Torre del Fiume di Galatea. This is a 16th century tower with four lookouts. The center had fallen in years ago and all that remains are the towers with palm trees growing around them. I thought it was quite pretty.
We finished our self tour enjoying the sea shore as the sun set.
Dinner this night was at the hotel and then off to bed.
Roaming through the countryside and small villages in the Capo di Leuca area of Puglia, Italy was actually very enjoyable. I saw places and things I would not have ever saw had I not been with this group and off of the beaten path. I was ready to slow down though as we had several days in a row of go go go.
Data per my Fitbit
Total Steps: 30,028
Total Miles: 11.84
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