The SP 81 is one of the most scenic roads to be done by motorbike in all of Salento and of Apulia, as well as one of the most beautiful in all of Italy.
The road is close to the sea and passes through beautiful areas like Castro, Santa Cesarea Terme and Porto Badisco.
- Santa Maria di Leuca
- Santa Cesarea Terme
- Porto Badisco
- Where to eat and sleep
- Map and information
Salento is now known all over the world for the beauty of its beaches, for its cultural and eno-gastronomic traditions, for the ancient towns to visit, for the music, events and the ideal climate all year round to visit it in motorcycle. Our itinerario brings us from the southern tip of the "heel", Santa Maria di Leuca, in Otranto, for about 50 kilometers that will be unforgettable.
It starts from Santa Maria di Leuca, a small but beautiful seaside resort and fishing boat that rises in the bay between Punta Ristola and Punta Meliso. Literally set, like a precious stone, in a stretch of coast alternating with cliffs and small sandy coves. The numerous caves they are of great historical and naturalistic interest and the seabed is a real paradise for underwater tourism. The most beautiful points are accessible only by sea, but there are many alternatives to reach on foot and enjoy a dip in the blue. Numerous and sumptuous are the city nineteenth century of Moorish, Liberty and Pompeian style, overlooking the sea. A staircase of 184 steps connect the Sanctuary of Santa Maria di Leuca (overlooking the coast and from which to enjoy beautiful views) to the port below, framing theApulian Aqueduct that flows into the sea.
Continuing north, in order to have the coast to admire on your own direction, we come to Castro, a charming medieval village. We can consider this place divided into two distinct parts: on one side Castro Marina, where there is also the port near which you can see the caves excavated which serve as warehouses for fishermen; on the other Castro Superiore, a village of ancient origins in a panoramic position overlooking the sea along an extensive hilly area. The sixteenth-century fortifications, still visible for large stretches, they were erected to defend themselves from frequent pirate raids. In the upper part we find the castle erected in the second half of the sixteenth century on the ruins of another even more ancient, and we also find the Cathedral, originally from the XNUMXth century and subsequently modified over time, in which Romanesque and Byzantine signs are evident.
We resume the road in the direction Santa Cesarea Terme, a small town of three thousand inhabitants that stands on a large cliff overlooking the sea, overlooking the Canale d'Otranto. The fame of Santa Cesarea Terme is due, of course, to its own thermal waters with salsoiodic and sulphurous properties, which flow from four natural cavities at a temperature of around 30 degrees. The town is full of villas built by the nobles of the area at the end of the nineteenth century and of terraced buildings ready to welcome its visitors. On its territory there is also a slight green hill where olive groves and vineyards grow. The streets trace the path between elegant houses that seem to make it a village of other times.
Before reaching Otranto it is really mandatory to stop in Porto Badisco (in the photo above) a real diamond of Salento, where, in its famous cove, you can breathe the scent of the wind, salt, scrub and Mediterranean essences. The sea of Porto Badisco is very fishy ricci which can be tasted in the kiosk adjacent to the small village bar, in front of which there is an extraordinary viewpoint overlooking the rocks. According to legend, Aeneas landed here on a small boat, together with his father Anchises and his son Ascanio. In this magical seaside resort of Apulia precisely called "landing of Aeneas”Is the famous Cave of the Deers, Sistine Chapel of prehistory, an underground complex, which four millennia ago hosted the first inhabitants of Salento. This underground cave is three kilometers long and contains thousands of graffiti and paintings with a vividness of colors that still amazes us today, too bad that for reasons of safety is closed to the public since 1970.
Finally we come to Otranto, also called "Gateway to the East", faces south of the Adriatic on the Canale d'Otranto, the strait between Puglia and Balkans which takes its name. Otranto is known for its Cathedral, completed and opened for worship in 1088. Its facade was rebuilt after the Turkish invasion and of incomparable value is the floor mosaic executed in the XNUMXth century, today completely restored. Inside, the Cathedral also preserves the remains of the 800 martyrs killed by the Turks during their invasion. But in addition to the Cathedral, Otranto also offers the wonderful vision of Aragonese Castle, together with the towers, ramparts and walls. The ancient village has narrow streets made of stone, which wind in a serpentine between the houses, today largely used to accommodate numerous and characteristic little shops and food and wine activities. The city in summer is particularly alive both in the evening both during the day thanks to the presence of two small beaches inside the urban center. Moving a few kilometers, then, you can relax in one of the large and airy beaches near the Lakes Alimini, a corner of unspoiled nature which is also part of a regional park and which includes incredible places such as Bay of the Turks.
If you want to go further north, discover the Gargano by motorbike and the Trulli of Cisternino.