Santa Maria Di Leuca is the city on the southernmost point of the heel of Italy. It is Italy’s Ushuaia, Land’s End. This is the actual point. Rather a jagged little edge.
Santa Maria di Leuca is an beautiful town to visit and the marina is deep enough for 2.8 meters in selected berths. It was not previously a port of entry that we knew of, but we were able to check in. By visiting the Ufficio maritime, next to the travel lift, shown here,
the officer was able to call the border police who brought a portable laptop and passport scanner and checked us in. They also gave us a constituto, which is not the current protocol, but we now have one. They were very friendly, but we had to wait a while until the guy showed up with the laptop.
Looking to the shore from the anchorage, just in front of the town promenade, we all scratched our heads at the architecture. Such an array of styles- Ottoman, Baroque, whimsical fairy princess, modern beach bungalow, all interspersed with the famous Villas of SMdL (I would call it the Newport Mansions section of Puglia).
These are homes built in the 1800s that are part restored, part in the original state of decay, all impressive if all a bit odd.
The town seemed abandoned. Many many holiday condos are built next to the mansions and are apparently awaiting August, when Italy is on vacation. This are is where Italy goes on holiday, where the Ionian Sea brings clear, warm waters unlike the murky mess of the Adriatic side. The coast here is rocky and full of caves, so the Italian solution to a rocky beach is either lay down wooden “beach” decks, or just lie on the rocks!
The coast line of near SMdL is jagged, featuring many navigable caverns, grotte, and caves that you can reach in land by walking. In fact, in the Salento region are many Grotte that show evidence of human occupation from 20,000 years ago! Cave art, made of Ochre and guano have been dated to this time period, and there is at least one Christian church still operating inside a cave. The cavemen of this region had very well decorated homes.
The waters are clear, warm and very swimmable.
How about dinghy- spelunking?
The sections of coastline that are not interesting caves and rocks are pebble or sand beaches. The section near Urgento is called “the Maldives of Italy” because the shallow, turquoise waters bring the Maldives to mind. We could only anchor so far away, we had to miss it. Motoring along about 2 miles out we had to stop and pick our way out of sudden 4 meter water, to a more comfortable 10 meters.