Every season has something to offer
In addition to its warm climate, crystal-clear sea and soft breeze, described in dialect as ‘lu mare, lu sole e lu ventu’ (the sea, the sun and the wind), this remote, bountiful region is always ready to show us its treasures and outdoor beauties. These include the famous Baroque architecture of the churches and ‘palazzi’ in every historic centre, the lesser-known ‘Salentino Gothic’ style, and the rural architecture of farmhouses, pajàre, liàme, incurtatùri, palmenti, palùni, wells, furnaces, and the area’s ancient dry stone walls, inscribed in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list in 2018.
The region also has several hidden gems, including its ‘frantoi ipogei’ (underground olive mills) and the cellars of aristocratic palaces. Other attractions include art, film and photographic exhibitions, saints’ feast days, pop concerts, local food festivals and top-level regional crafts.
The area is surrounded by the unspoilt beauty of rocky coastlines and sand dunes, nature reserves and vast stretches of lush countryside. You can enjoy aperitivi at sundown, dinners under the stars, delicious cuisine featuring fresh, locally sourced ingredients, flavoured with extra virgin olive oil, plus a great selection of the finest local wines. In Salento, hospitality is the name of the game!
At the end of March, the days start getting longer and warmer. In April, Italians celebrate the religious holidays of Pentecost and Easter. Spring has sprung and the landscape is awash with the flowering of mimosa, almond, pear, peach and apricot trees. You can pick asparagus, wild fennel and the precious Erbe ‘Reste’ (edible wild herbs). The countryside comes alive with an explosion of colours tempting people to step outside and enjoy outdoor activities, like walking or cycling. In May and June, people begin heading to the beach and the warm temperature of the sea allows for the first dips of the season in the area’s crystalline water. Festivals commemorating patron saints begin, and the sounds of the routine tasks of rural life, including planting, mowing and the cleaning of olive groves, are once again heard in the surrounding countryside.
The end of June is one of the best times of the year for a number of reasons: warm, cloudless days, longer hours of daylight and, most importantly, the sea. This is the perfect time to sunbathe on the beach, swim, dive from the rocks, hire a boat or relax on an inflatable mattress or surfboard. After rising early to enjoy the cool air and the beautiful colours of sunrise, head to town to do some shopping or take a walk in the surrounding countryside. On returning home, cool off, relax and enjoy a light lunch in the courtyard or garden, followed by a well-deserved nap. In July and August, the midday siesta is a welcome ritual during the day’s hottest hours. At around 5pm, people once again start heading outdoors. You can pick an abundance of figs and ripe prickly pears which can either be eaten fresh out of the fridge, or used to make delicious smoothies. A refreshing swim is an absolute must, before treating yourself to an aperitivo at sunset, followed by an enjoyable dinner with friends,. After dinner you can browse the stalls of the area’s numerous markets and small- town sagre (local fairs), attend a concert or cultural event, or watch an open-air performance of local folk music and dance until it’s time to head home under a brilliant starlit sky. In September, everything gradually slows down. Even the weather seems to adapt, bringing with it clear, sun-soaked days and a calmer, flatter sea, known in Italian as ‘le Biancate’.
In autumn, everything is quieter and less crowded. You can still head to the beach and take a dip in the sea until early November, or even later. The weather is still warm and sunny, and you’ll be able to enjoy some of our ‘favourite places, beaches, white steep cliffs and the calm, warm waters of September and October to the full. The countryside becomes the area’s star player and welcomes autumn with its mild climate, vibrant colours and magnificent sunrises and sunsets. At the end of September, you can help with the ‘Vendemmia’ (wine harvest) and visit one of the area’s wine estates where you can watch the pressing and fermentation of the new wine. This is also a perfect time to sample local wines. Towards mid-October everything comes to life. As you drive through the verdant countryside, you’ll notice the appearance of the first nets used to harvest the olives which are gradually ripening. The process begins by placing the harvesting nets at the foot of the olive trees. The olives are shaken off the trees using rods or mechanical machinery. After the olives have been collected from the nets and placed in baskets, they are separated from the leaves and branches. After this, when all the crates have been filled, trips to and from the olive groves to the olive mill begin. This ensures the immediate pressing of the olives and guarantees that the new oil is infused with only the finest nutritional properties, aroma and flavour. In the evening, the new oil is collected from the olive mill for ‘official’ tasting by the family, and poured over ‘frise’ (a crunchy, dry bread baked in a stone oven) or bruschetta. This period is also the perfect time to stroll through the countryside and woods in search of other delicacies including mushrooms. Cuisine becomes heartier and more richly flavoured thanks to local, seasonal pork-based products. Among these, standouts include ‘sangunàzzo’ or ‘sanguinaccio’ made from large cooked blood sausage, thin slices of meat, orange and lemon zest, cinnamon, hot chili pepper and Amaro Borsci (a typical Italian liqueur). It can be sliced and eaten either hot or cold, pan-fried, as a snack, an appetizer or a dessert. The choice is up to you! The sea is once again filled with fish and Bonitos and Sea Urchins return to these waters. In the evening, temperatures drop, and people start lighting warming fires with the wood obtained from the pruning of the bountiful olive trees which are potted following harvesting in readiness for the next season. The air is filled with the pleasant scent of burning wood.
In December, the evenings are cooler and the days, though shorter, are sunny and luminous. The countryside prepares to rest, and the sea is calm and flat, offering visitors a chance to take long walks on the beaches of the Ionian coast in search of small treasures washed up by the waves during the occasional coastal storms, unmistakable proof of the force of nature which is best experienced along the cliffs of the Adriatic coast.
Wherever you go, you’ll experience the traditional atmosphere of Christmas, with decorations, lights, markets and small-town festivals. On New Year’s Eve, people gather in the town of Punta Palascìa to listen to the ‘Concerto della prima alba d’Italia (‘Concert of the first dawn in Italy’) featuring music by singer/songwriters and toasts to ring in the New Year Anno (Goran Bregovic in TV)
When February rolls around, the clear, winter days herald the arrival of spring blooms and colours. February marks the arrival of Carnival with processions of brightly coloured floats in Aradeo, Corsano, Copertino, Scorrano, Melendugno.Gallipoli and Nardò, and in the towns of Grecìa Salentina, including Martignano.
Winter is coming to an end and everyone starts getting ready for the return of spring with its rhythms marking a new cycle of life in Salento’s countryside!
A tip: check the seasonal charts and picture an off-season holiday. Come in spring or autumn to enjoy an even more vibrant experience. You’ll find crowd-free beaches, breathtaking scenery, crystalline waters and spectacular sunrises and sunsets. By taking advantage of our offers and low-cost flights you can enjoy a holiday where everything is more accessible and quieter. And here’s the best part; you’ll enjoy considerable savings!