Alessano: discovering the Village

In the heart of lower Salento, Alessano is a destination that combines the characteristics of a sunny and relaxing holiday with a visit of historical and cultural interest, mitigated by a favourable climate and excellent gastronomic traditions that make an ideal accompaniment to the discovery of this beautiful village.

The history of Alessano

The municipality of Alessano is a small town in southern Salento, whose name probably derives from the Byzantine emperor Alessio. Under Norman rule, it became one of the most important towns in the Cape of Leuca. Its period of maximum splendour, however, was between 1400 and 1500 as a commercial centre; it was home to a number of rich Venetian merchant families, sumptuous palaces still testify to this, and a small Jewish community with its synagogue, now in Via della Giudecca.
Until 1818, it was also an Episcopal seat.

It has its own hamlet, Montesardo, an ancient rocky complex, and a marina, Novaglie.


Pope Francis in Alessano

A few years ago, on April 20th 2018 to be precise, citizens had the privilege of hosting the Pope in Alessano. A crowd of faithful welcomed the Pope with great joy and participation. Naturally, the Holy Father prayed at the tomb of Don Tonino Bello, now Blessed, a priest whose actions were dictated by his great humility in welcoming the poor and misfits from all parts of the world. He was also Bishop of Molfetta, a role that was close to his heart, used to helping the needy in the suburbs.


Macurano is a mediaeval cave complex, considered one of the most important in southern Italy; it is characterised by thirty-one cavities, many natural, some artificial. It was equipped with all the comforts of the time, including drinking water and underground oil mills for pressing olives. Today, unfortunately, it is in a state of neglect, once again reflecting man’s rejection of its historical memory.



Montesardo is a hamlet of Alessano and the third highest town in the province of Lecce, at 184 metres above sea level. Due to its defensive position, some excavations date it to the Messapian period. Among the many fortified buildings, we can admire the castle with its towers; part of the ancient structure is now a shelter for the elderly. It is always pleasant to stroll through the narrow streets of these ancient villages, where the multicoloured geraniums give life to the white lime walls, and the blacksmith’s hammer to a time long gone.

Marina di Novaglie

Continuing our journey, we must stop at Marina di Novaglie, a seaside resort on the Adriatic coast a few kilometres from Santa Maria di Leuca. It is characterised by low cliffs and a small harbour carved out of the rock. Needless to say, the sea is transparent, and in some places the water is cold due to natural springs. Its coastline is rich in caves of enormous historical and natural interest. Unfortunately, access is only by sea, but it is really worth it. Here are the main ones:

  • Grotta Azzurra (Blue Cave) – because of the colour of the water inside it
  • Grotta del Diavolo (Devil’s Cave) – so called because it is dark inside and a swallow hole suggests the gateway to the underworld
  • Grotta di Porto Vecchio – located near the harbour
  • Grotta delle Cipolliane – there are actually two, one at sea level, the other just above, the first is called the Grotto of the Crib because of a strange conformation of the rock, the other Grotto of the Elephant due to the outline that, with a bit of imagination, can be carved out of the large boulder.

ìIn the heart of the lower Salento, Alessano represents a destination that combines the characteristics of a sun and relaxation holiday with a historical and cultural visit, softened by a favorable climate and excellent gastronomic traditions that make an ideal background for the discovery of this beautiful village.

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Team HDSalento

Team HDSalento

Articles by the HDSalento team

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