The southern Via FrancigenaSalento - PugliaDifficulty path:
Here lies the last part of the Southern Via Francigena, one of the most important Roman roads tracked in Italy. It is the route followed by pilgrims, crusaders, Knights Templar and many others before embarking for the Holy Land from Otranto or Leuca.
A journey on foot from Lecce to Capo di Leuca, the Finis Terrae, to discover important Christian monuments and even more ancient pagan places of worship.
An exciting itinerary through ancient roads, quiet villages and sleepy countryside will reveal the history and culture of this corner of the world.
Lecce, known as “The Southern Florence”
The Castle of Acaya
The Megaliths of Giurdignano
The ancient “Griko” Language
The oldest Byzantine frescoes of Puglia
Get the Pilgrim Passport
Welcome to Salento!
You are in Lecce, the “Southern Florence”, from where you start to walk on the southern Via Francigena.
Take time to explore the Baroque capital of Salento. The Cathedral and Sant' Oronzo Square, the majestic Roman amphitheater and the magnificent rose window of Santa Croce will be your reference points. In the city you can also notice the signs of the passage of pilgrims: such as the Church of Trinità, the last testimony of a large Hospital, or the medieval Church of SS. Niccolò and Cataldo, the burial temple of the last Norman king Tancredi of Lecce.
Overnight in Lecce.
Walking to Vernole
After the last farewell to the statue of Saint Oronzo and the mighty Roman column that once marked the end of the Via Appia, you will start your journey towards the Cape of Leuca.
After a while you will find yourself in the intense scents and colours of the Mediterranean maquis. Then you arrive at the village of Acaya, one of the few fortified towns of the Renaissance period still intact throughout the South. Just outside the citadel walls stands the chapel of San Paolo, which dates back to the mid-18th century and is the oldest pilgrimage site, along with Galatina, for victims of the "tarantula bite".
Spotting primitive typical dry-stone construction in the countryside, the pajara, you will reach the little village of Vernole, where you stay overnight.
Walking to Carpignano
After breakfast, you will continue your way on the Southern Via Francigena through the heel of Italy.
Through the countryside, you will arrive near Martano: you are in the middle of the ancient Greek part of Puglia, that is the Grecìa Salentina. On the way the Monastery of Cistercian monks: the monastic community is faithful to the Benedictine rule ora et labora, working in the cultivation of fruit trees, citrus and olive groves. The monks keep a wide collection of Salento herbal medicines, besides ancient books and a picture gallery.
Continue to Carpignano along the “carriage” which was part of the ancient Via Traiano-Constantina. Carpignano Salentino will surprise you with its important religious heritage: among all the hypogeum Sanctuary of Santa Cristina, famous for the oldest Byzantine frescoes of Puglia.
Overnight in Carpignano Salentino.
Walking to Otranto
Among small pine forests, old olive groves and stone walls, you will pass through the village of Cannole.
Following the tracks of the Apulian Via Francigena, you will meet two important landmarks of the medieval pilgrim: the farms, now inhabitated, of Anfiano and Torcito.
You will climb the hill that houses the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Montevergine, still a place of pilgrimage: the modern temple hides inside a Byzantine crypt frescoed with a beautiful Madonna.
The walk then goes towards the Megalithic Garden of Italy: this beautiful itinerary brings you back in time, along a path through menhirs and dolmens, rich in history and mysteries. Probably used as tombs and rituals: magical places such as the “Boulder of the Old Lady”, linked to Hercules and the witch who once lived there, the dolmen Stabile and the menhir San Paolo with a fresco linking the saint to the tarantism phenomenon.
The last steps will lead to Otranto where, looking at the harbour, you can imagine the ancient galleys departing eastward: you can spend time in its beautiful bay.
Overnight in Otranto.
Walking to Vignacastrisi
From Otranto, climb up the gentle hill Colle della Minerva, whose name perhaps recalls the existence of a temple dedicated to the goddess.
At the top of the staircase stands the sanctuary of S. Maria dei Martiri, where a chapel was erected in memory of the massacre of 800 Martyrs in 1480.
Walk in a pristine landscape that becomes lunar near the Blue Lake, and reach the ruins of the ancient Abbey of Casole, linked to the history of the Crusades. You reach the village of Uggiano La Chiesa, with its beautiful main square and the Mother Church dedicated to Mary Magdalene. After passing the two villages of Cocumola and Vitigliano, and after a few meters on a busy road and then again on a rural road to reach the center of Vignacastrisi, where you will stay the night.
Walking to Tricase
Today's itinerary of the Via Francigena in Puglia takes place partly in the Natural Park Otranto - Leuca.
Past the Chapel of the Madonna of Costantipoli, continue and enter the center of Marittima, with its baronial palace that looks like a castle, adjacent to the majestic Baldassarre Tower. From the heights you will enjoy magnificent breathtaking views protected by the legendary Saracen towers. There will be many opportunities to reach the sea by carefully choosing your path (tratturo) downhill.
Then you come across a wood of eucalyptus, pine and vallone oaks, typical of this area before to reach Tricase, important village in the history of Salento. The splendid Piazza Pisanelli will welcome you, characterized by the presence of the Castle of the Gallone Princes.
Overnight in Tricase.
Walking to the “Finibus Terrae”
Following a dirt road you will reach the center of Tiggiano with its splendid Baronial Palace.
In this area the inhabited centers are very close to each other and follow one another almost without interruption, so after a while you find yourselves in Corsano, where it is worth visiting the churches of San Biagio and Santa Sofia. Again in the open countryside with its classic dry stone walls, until the entrance to Gagliano del Capo, with the Church of San Rocco and the Convent of San Francesco di Paola. The last stretch on country roads runs along the end of the Southern Via Francigena and will take you to the Sanctuary of Finibus Terrae in Santa Maria di Leuca.
Two angels watch over the pilgrim who enters the square looking out over the sea, the promise of a journey that is not over, but has just begun ... towards Jerusalem.
Santa Maria di Leuca
After breakfast end of services.
Before leaving Leuca, take time for a boat trip to discover the splendid sea caves!
Tour programme variations
Due to organizational reasons, weather conditions or provisions issued by local authorities, the itinerary may be subject to some changes before and/or during the holiday.
Along the way you may find temporary deviations (for example road works) which cannot be foreseen; in this case each walker can decide autonomously how to deal with these stretches.
Our offer includes
- 7 nights with breakfast in shared double/twin room
- Pilgrim Passport
- Travel App (maps, tracks, route notes)
- Phone assistance 08:00-20:00
- Transfer IN and Transfer OUT
- Luggage transportation hotel to hotel
- Other meals and drinks
- Entrance fees and tips
- Hotel tourist taxes
- Insurance and what's not listed as Included
Departures and prices
Supplements per person
The itinerary on the southern Via Francigena is suitable for anyone used to walking long distances. The length of a walking day ranges from a minimum of 15 to a maximum of 26 km, with almost undemanding unevenness and travel times between 3 and 6 hours.
The tour winds mainly through dirt paths and country lanes; rarely, and only when strictly necessary, on busy roads.
The tour offers simple accommodation in central B&Bs and selected 3* hotels.
All rooms are ensuite.
- 1 night in Lecce B&B La Bella Lecce
- 1 night in Vernole B&B Le Due Cisterne
- 1 night in Carpignano Salentino Karpignana Hotel
- 1 night in Otranto Hotel Albania
- 1 night in Vignacastrisi B&B Donna Lina
- 1 night in Tricase B&B Rosa dei Venti
- 1 night in Leuca Hotel Rizieri
7 breakfasts included.
In case of non-availability we choose an alternative position with similar characteristics. Alternative details will be noted in the updated Service List.
We will take care of your luggage while you are walking.
For the whole duration of your tour, you can contact our assistance numbers.
A few days before departure you will receive by email the Service List with instructions for using the Travel App.
Upon your arrival, ask at reception for the infopack with:
- updated Service List;
- luggage Labels;
- Pilgrim Passport.
Lecce is easily reachable by train, bus, car and by air.
BY AIR. The closest airports are Bari and Brindisi, both connected with the most important Italian and foreign cities.
The Salento airport of Brindisi is about 40 km from Lecce, and the airport of Bari-Palese is about 160 km from Lecce. From Bari and Brindisi there are several public transport solutions to reach Lecce. More info on the website Aeroporti di Puglia.
BY BUS. Lecce is also accessible by bus. Here some of the major operating companies: Marinobus, Baltour & Flixbus, Busmiccolis, Sais autolinee, Buscenter.
BY CAR. The main highways are the A14 Bologna-Taranto and the A16 Napoli-Canosa. We recommend you exit the motorway in Bari and continue along the highway to Brindisi, then take the SS613 towards Lecce. maps.google.com can help you with the directions.
Back to Lecce
From Leuca it is possible to reach Lecce using the train. Gagliano is the closest station, reachable in 10/15 minutes by taxi from Leuca. The train ticket is cheap (from 5 to 6.50 €), the travel time is quite long: about 2h30min with a change in Zollino or Nardò. NB: the train rides are reduced during Sunday.
→ If you prefer to travel in total comfort, you can book a private transfer on the days of arrival and departure.