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The Salento

Gallipoli Ufficio Turistico

10 Piazza Imbriani
Gallipoli , Puglia
Tel: 39 088 326 2529

Otranto Ufficio Turistico

12 Via Presbitero Pantaleone
Otranto , Puglia
Tel: 39 083 680 1436's insider take:

Puglia's wild southern promontory has been compared to Cornwall, and with its spectacular coastline, windswept interior, and deep-rooted folk traditions, it's easy to see why. Stretching south from Lecce, the Salento takes in the historic port towns of Otranto (on the Adriatic side) and Gallipoli (on the western, Ionian coast). The Salento also has some of Puglia's best beaches—especially to the west, where white sand dunes extend for miles north of the resort of Porto Cesareo, and south of Gallipoli. Inland is a primitive landscape of prickly pears, stone walls, and dusty towns, some of which turn out to harbor a few artistic treasures (don't miss the spectacular 15th-century frescoes in the church of Santa Caterina d'Alessandria in sleepy Galatina). And if you're here in summer, try to take in a performance of the tarantella at one of the many village festas. This frantic dance, set to a driving guitar, accordion, and tambourine accompaniment, was believed to cure women of the bite of the tarantula (though most anthropologists tend to agree that there's something a lot more sexual going on).

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