Facts

Location: Province of Lecce, Italy

Length: 51.4 km

Built: 1953

Wide: 5 m standard, 2 lanes

Surface: asphalt

Surface quality (out of 5): 4

Operating times: throughout the year

SP 358 Strada Provinciale 358 delle Terme Salentine

Route: Santa Maria di Leuca – Otranto

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Description

Santa Maria di Leuca to Otranto is considered to be one of the most beautiful panoramic drives in Italy. Located in Salento, a southern peninsula sometimes described as being the “heel” of the Italian “boot”, this coastal road connects the towns of Santa Maria di Leuca with Otranto over a distance of 51.4 km.

The Salento peninsula, part of the charming Puglia region, has some of the best kept secrets in Italy: secluded white sand beaches, hidden sea caves known locally as “grotte”, exquisite seafood restaurants and picturesque, small beach towns, rich in history and  filled with a myriad of hotels to choose from.

The drive to Otranto begins in Santa Maria di Leuca and consists of following the famous Strada Provinciale 358 delle Terme Salentine (SP 358) heading North. This stunning road runs along the eastern coast of the peninsula, it’s very easy to navigate and offers breathtaking views over the wide-open Adriatic sea, all year round.

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Along the way you will pass through many coastal towns and villages surrounded by an abundance of olive groves, lush pine forest and ancient defense towers. Most noteworthy, after driving a distance of around 33 km, near the small village of Castro you will find the stunningly beautiful Zinzulusa cave. Created in prehistoric times by sea erosion, very rich in stalactites and stalagmites that are reflected in the turquoise waters below, the Zinzulusa cave is a must see tourist attraction of the Salento Peninsula.

Continuing north, we reach Otranto. A town set in a fertile region and in the same time a historical place of encounter between various cultures, it marks the end point of our journey. Fought over centuries for its commercial and strategic value, Otranto is today a very pleasant and animated town, especially during summer. You will be impressed by the maze of narrow streets and the small white houses and courtyards, built by the locals to be in perfect harmony with the sea.

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Finally, at approximately 5 km southeast of Otranto, you will find a very important landmark: the lighthouse “Faro della Palascia”, the most easterly point of the Italian mainland. Very popular among visiting tourist and locals, the lighthouse was recently renovated and, most importantly, is one of five lighthouses of the Mediterranean Sea protected by the European Commission.

 

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Photos: casacardignan.com, touringclub.it, ytimg.com, viaggiareinpuglia.it, panoramio.com, parcolamandra.it, visitacastromarina.wordpress.com

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