Winning tip: Thermal Santa Cesarea
Drive two hours from Ostuni, or 20 minutes south along the coast from Otranto, and you’ll find hot thermal springs gushing from four caves – Gatulla, Solfurea, Fetida and Solfatara – along 500m of dramatic coastline near the pretty town of Santa Cesarea Terme. On the sea front, there are a couple of pizzerias and a year-round thermal bathing pool. Terme di Santa Cesarea health spa is also nearby. The whole coastline is rugged, with lots of undiscovered coves to swim in.
Swimming off the Zinzulusa grotto
Head to the little town of Castro, south of Lecce on the Adriatic coast, and hire a boat from one of the companies at the marina for a tour of the nearby natural caves. The biggest and most spectacular is the Zinzulusa grotto, which resembles a rocky mouth opening onto the sea. It is a maze of colourful stalactites and stalagmites and there’s an internal lake. You can take a guided visit or just swim and snorkel off the boat outside the cave.
Pezzetti te cavallu in Lecce
If my favourite, the local speciality pezzetti te cavallu (a slow-cooked dish of tender horse meat in a tomato sauce) isn’t quite your thing, Lecce osteria Alle Due Corti (Corte dei Giugni 1) also serves incredible stuffed aubergines, pasta and spring lamb. Wash it down with a drop of primitivo di manduria, Puglia’s answer to zinfandel. They call Lecce the Florence of the…
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