The southern Via FrancigenaSalento - PugliaDifficulty path:
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 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, 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.
From Lecce to Acquarica di Lecce
Hailing Sant' Oronzo and the mighty Roman column that once marked the end of the Via Appia, you will start your journey to Otranto. After a while you will find yourself in the intense scents and colours of the Mediterranean maquis. You will arrive in the village of Acaya, one of the few fortified towns of the Renaissance period still intact throughout the South. Spotting primitive typical dry-stone construction in the countryside, the pajare, you will reach Acquarica di Lecce, a small town of really ancient origin.
From Acquarica di Lecce to Martano
After breakfast, you will continue your way to the South. Among dry stone walls and clay courts, cross the forest of 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. You will also find the first two megaliths of the trip, the dolmens of Gurgulante and Placa, prehistoric burial monuments. Walking in the countryside, you will arrive in Martano, the daily final goal. You are in the middle of the ancient Greek part of Salento, Grecìa Salentina. On the outskirts, just before the historic centre of Martano, you will find 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
From Martano to Cannole
A stroll in the historical centre of Martano and continue on to Carpignano along the ancient “carriage” which was part of the ancient roadway Traiano-Constantina. Carpignano Salentino will amaze you with its important religious heritage: among all the hypogeum Sanctuary of Santa Cristina, famous for the oldest Byzantine frescoes of Puglia. Following the tracks of the Via Traiana, you will meet two important landmarks of the medieval pilgrim: the farms of Anfiano and Cerceto. Among small pine forests, olive groves and stone walls, you will reach Cannole, really beautiful town.
From Cannole to Muro Leccese
Early in the morning the way will go to the old medieval farmhouse Palanzano. Today the ruins of the farm retain the memory of a rare church with two apses described by the scholar Cosimo de Giorgi in the late 19th century. Then 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 last stretch of the trail will lead you in Muro Leccese, the final destination of the day.
From Muro Leccese to Casamassella
After a last look at the main square in Muro Leccese, its baroque buildings and the small Byzantine Church dedicated to Santa Marina, the walk goes towards the Megalithic Garden of Italy. Today’s itinerary evokes rituals and legends, myths and pagan cults related to the peoples who over the millennia inhabited and traversed these lands. So you can find magical places such as the large “Boulder of the Old Lady”, the small and remote dolmen Stabile and the menhir San Paolo. From Giurdignano, passed the central and often sunny square of the Town Hall, it won’t take long to get the Foundation Le Constantine, an ancient farmhouse promoting various social activities ranging from biodynamic agriculture to handicraft production of rare fabrics.
From Casamassella to Otranto
The last stop on this “pilgrimage” to Terra d'Otranto, will take you to discover the beautiful unspoiled landscapes described in one of the masterpiece of Italian historical novel, “L’ora di tutti” of Maria Corti. Before reaching Otranto, you will pass by the lighthouse Palascìa, the most eastern tip of Italy: from here, when the north wind blows hard and the sky clears up, the mountains of Albania become clearly visible. Walking from the coast you will find the ruins of the ancient Abbey of Casole and you will see the last natural wonder given by the Blue Lake, a disused bauxite quarry where water springs have created a microenvironment with magical colours. The last steps will eventually lead to Otranto and looking at the harbour you can imagine the ancient galleys departing eastward.
We recommend to spend the last hours in Otranto to visit the small Byzantine Basilica of San Pietro and the majestic Cathedral of Santa Maria Annunziata: here it is preserved one of the most important mosaics of Italy, the so-called Tree of Life, symbolic work that collects, like an ancient book, legends and symbols of medieval traditions of East and West.
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 biker can decide autonomously how to deal with these stretches.
Our offer includes
- 7 nights with breakfast
- Welcome briefing
- Luggage transportation hotel to hotel
- Information package
- Smartphone offline GPS app
- 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 tour is suitable for anyone with a minimum of training. The length of a walking day ranges from a minimum of 12 to a maximum of 19km, with almost undemanding unevenness and travel times between 3 and 5 hours.
The tours wind mainly through dirt paths and country lanes; rarely, and only when strictly necessary, on busy roads.
We recommend to wear comfortable walking shoes, better if trekking boots, and to bring with you a hat, drinking water, sun cream, swimsuit and a waterproof jacket in case of rain.
En suite rooms in 3/4 * hotels and beautiful B&B.
1 night in Lecce
1 night in Acquarica di Lecce
1 night in Martano
1 night in Cannole
1 night in Muro Leccese
1 night in Casamassella
1 night in Otranto
7 breakfasts included. All other meals are not included.
The morning of the second day, after breakfast, you will have a Welcome meeting.
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.
During the welcome briefing you will receive your Information Package. The Package contains the following Travel Documents:
- updated Service List;
- Vouchers to be delivered to the partners;
- luggage Labels;
- Route notes: a summary of daily information.
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.
If you prefer to travel in total comfort, you can book a private transfer with us.
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.
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. The service is replaced by bus rides on Sundays and public holidays.