The southern Via FrancigenaSalento - PugliaDifficulty path:
Along the last stretch of the Southern Via Francigena, one of the most important Roman roads tracked in Italy, that is the route followed by pilgrims and crusaders to embark in Otranto or Leuca and reach the Holy Land.
It's an authentic journey, to discover historical Christian monuments and ancient pagan sites. A light and exciting itinerary that follows, where possible, the traces of the legendary Via Traiano-Calabra.
Lecce, known as “The Southern Florence”
The Castle of Acaya
The Forest of Calimera and the Megaliths of Giurdignano
The ancient “Griko” Language
The oldest Byzantine frescoes of Puglia
The Blue Lake near Otranto
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 town there are also signs of the passage of the pilgrims; such as the Church of Trinità, the last witness of a big Hospital; or just outside the city walls, the Church of SS. Niccolò and Cataldo, burial temple of the last Norman king, Tancredi of Lecce.
Walking to Calimera
25km, 6,5h, +100m -100m
Hailing Sant'Oronzo and the mighty Roman column that once marked the end of the Via Appia, you will start walking on the Southern Via Francigena to Santa Maria di Leuca.
After a while you will find yourself in the intense scents and colours of the Mediterranean maquis. You will reach in the village of Acaya, one of the few fortified towns of the Renaissance period still intact throughout the South.
You will also find the first two megaliths of the trip, the dolmens of Gurgulante and Placa, prehistoric burial monuments.
Spotting primitive typical dry-stone construction in the countryside, the pajara, you will reach Calimera, ancient remnant of a large green area made of carob trees and oaks in which the small Romanesque church of San Vito is hidden.
Walking to Cannole
15km, 4h, +120m -70m
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 ancient “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.
Among small pine forests, olive groves and stone walls, you will reach Cannole, small village known as the "City of municeddhe" (snails), to which is dedicated a local gourmet festival.
Walking to Otranto
22km, 5,5h, +100m -190m
Following the tracks of the Apulian Southern 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 to be 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 connecting San Paolo to the tarantism phenomenon.
The last steps will lead to Otranto where, looking at the harbour, you can imagine the ancient galleys departing eastward.
Walking to Vignacastrisi
15km, 4h, +190m -90m
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 1480.
Walk in the Apulian 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 nice main square and the Mother Church dedicated to Mary Magdalene. On the way, churches and ancient monasteries, pagan monuments, olive trees and pines as far as the eye can see and two villages, those of Cocumola and Vitigliano.
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
20km, 5h, +90m -90m
Today's itinerary of your Southern Via Francigena in Puglia takes place partly in the Natural Park Otranto - Leuca.
Past the Chapel of the Madonna of Costantipoli, continue straight and enter the center of Marittima, with its beautiful 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 which steep path (tratturo), to take.
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.
Walking to the “Finibus Terrae”
20km, 5h, +130m -150m
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.
To watch over the pilgrim who enters the square looking at the sea two angels, a promise of a journey that is not finished, 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 with the help of a fisherman.
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
- Welcome briefing
- Travel App (maps, tracks, route notes)
- Luggage transportation hotel to hotel
- Phone assistance 08:00-21:00
- Transfer IN and Transfer OUT
- Meals and drinks
- Entrance fees and tips
- Hotel tourist taxes (about € 14,00)
- 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 25 km, with almost undemanding unevenness and travel times between 4 and 6,5 hours.
The tour winds mainly through dirt paths and country lanes; rarely, and only when strictly necessary, on busy roads.
En suite rooms in 3* hotels and central B&B.
1 night in Lecce
1 night in Calimera
1 night in Cannole
1 night in Otranto
1 night in Vignacastrisi
1 night in Tricase
1 night in Leuca
7 breakfasts included. All other meals are not included.
The morning of the second day, after breakfast, you will have a Welcome Briefing.
We will take care of your luggage while you are walking. In case of need you can call our emergency number ON from 08:00 to 21:00. Anytime, our staff will be available to make your holiday quiet and serene.
A few days before departure you will receive:
- Service List (with the link to download the Travel App);
- Luggage Labels (to be printed and applied on your luggage).
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 Otranto you can reach Lecce with the Ferrovie Sud-est. The train ticket is about € 4; the travel time is about 1h30min with possible change in Maglie and Zollino. NB: the service is replaced by bus rides on Sundays and public holidays.
If you prefer to travel in total comfort, you can book a private transfer on the days of arrival and departure.