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What to do in Santa Maria di Leuca?

Santa Maria di Leuca, or simply Leuca, is a small town, but with impressive historical and natural heritages.

Source Pixabay

What to do in Santa Maria di Leuca?

With its nearly 2,000 inhabitants, the city of Santa Maria di Leuca offers endless possibilities, especially for nature, sea and sun lovers! Leuca is for those who want to enjoy a beach, sunny days and live the life of Riley. Let’s go to our post of the day! What to do in  Santa Maria di Leuca?  Here at  Your Travel to Italy with Ana Patricia you make the trip of your dreams !!! ALSO: see our  “Accommodation in Italy – Tips for your holidays!”

Discover Santa Maria di Leuca in the province of Lecce

(Source: Daniele Massaro)


Leuca in Apulia is a tiny town located at the far end of Italy’s ‘heel of the boot’, between Punta Meliso and Punta Ristola. Due to its excellent location for those who reach it by sea, it was already a popular destination for sailors; in fact, the name Leuca, derives from the Greek Leukos, which means illuminated by the sun. You can understand where we’re going, right?! Discover Santa Maria di Leuca here: 2-hour private tour!

Discover the Legend

The city has some legends; one of them, however, is actually a beautiful story created by writer Carlo Stasi in 1992, although many believe it to be an age-old story. The story says that on the stretch of sea at the far end of the Salento peninsula, there was a beautiful mermaid, with delicate skin as white as porcelain, eyes blue as the sky and hair as golden as wheat; she was called Leucasia. Her singing was harmonious and no one could resist.

The Shepherd named Melisso

One day, a shepherd named Melisso, came to the cliff to graze his flock and refresh himself. While playing his flute, he was attracted by Leucasia’s sweet voice and fell in love with her voice. Leucasia tried to seduce Melisso, but in vain: he was madly in love with a beautiful girl from the aristocracy named Aristula, so he rejected the girl’s advances without noticing, however, that she was a mermaid. Dissatisfied, Leucasia did not accept the refusal, was taken by fury and swore revenge. After a while, Leucasia saw that Melisso and Aristula were walking along the coast and soon created a storm with its tail, leaving the skies gray, the sea raging and the wind fierce. Fallen into the sea, the couple drowned and died.

Punta Meliso

Minerva, the Goddess, seeing the scene from the top of her temple, felt sorry for the couple and petrified their bodies to ‘eternize’ them. However: one at each end of the bay. One point is called Punta Ristola, which is the point of Aristula, and the point of Melisso is, precisely, Punta Meliso. The two lovers were able to maintain their love, but without being able to touch each other and, from that moment on, they ’embraced’ each other by the mirror of the sea that ends where the land begins. Leucasia, overcome by remorse, lost her voice and committed suicide. They say that she turned into the beautiful white rocks that lie between the Puntas.

1) Discover Santa Maria di Leuca, in the province of Lecce: VISIT THE SCULPTURES AND BASILICA

Using this story as inspiration, sculptor Mario Calcagnile created the work ‘Trittico’ which consists of a group of sculptures located on the Leuca shore. The sculptures are located in front of Marina of Leuca, at the foot of the Monumental Waterfall. On the promontory of Punta Meliso, where the imposing Basilica stands today, there is a temple dedicated to the Goddess Minerva. They say the apostle Peter, on his way to Rome, Christianized the pagan temple and dedicated it to Our Lady. A gesture that gave the Shrine of Leuca to the cult of the faithful for centuries until today; Santa Maria di Leuca is, for Christians, the Gateway to Heaven. Inside the Basilica there is a plaque, that indicates the transition from the Temple to the Sanctuary, the change to Christianity. Not far from the Sanctuary is Croce Pietrina. Croce is a cross made of iron with two crossed keys on top.

2) Discover Santa Maria di Leuca, in the province of Lecce: DISCOVER THE MARINA AND THE VILLAGES

The Marina of Leuca was built around the 500s. For a long time, Leuca was just a meeting place for many anglers and, in the late 1800s, tourist interest in this place was reborn! The city became aristocratic, and a destination for the nobles who came from Salento and Puglia, building true Tuscan, Gothic, French and Renaissance villages, among others. Even today this unique heritage graces the city. Among the most beautiful villas are Villa Mellacqua, Villa San Giovanni, Villa De Francesco, Villa Pia, Villa Daniele and Villa Colossus. Near the Bagnarole boardwalk, you can see typical structures built on the cliff, facing the sea.

3) Discover Santa Maria di Leuca, in the province of Lecce: VISIT THE GROTTA DEL DIAVOLO

A must-see is the Grotta del Diavolo (“Devil’s Cave”). In fact, the region is full of beautiful caves, it’s hard to choose just one! If you can, take a day off just to take a boat trip: it’s awesome! Another interesting program: a full day at the beach! The clear water and the blue sky look like a painting made by a great artist, it’s amazing! Forget about life for a few hours on one of the city’s many beaches.

Map with attractions in Santa Maria di Leuca

What to do in Santa Maria di Leuca?
Source: Google Maps

Where to eat in Santa Maria di Leuca?

To eat well for little I leave a great option in the city…

Boccondivino Trattoria

With varied options and very well presented dishes, the restaurant offers excellent value for money. It’s small and the chef is the owner of the place, who serves everyone with incredible kindness.

  • Where it is: Via Enea 33, 73040 Santa Maria di Leuca, Castrignano del Capo, Italy.
  • Hours: every day from 11:00 am.

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What to do in Santa Maria di Leuca?  Leuca is a beautiful city and, although small, it has a lot to offer tourists; sea, gastronomy, fantastic stories and unique moments. Leuca will be forever in your memory, in your heart and you will understand all this when you set foot on this amazing piece of land!

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