Presicce: history, what to see, where to eat, beaches and surroundings [Guide 2023]

Presicce is the kind of place you wouldn’t bet a euro on, but it is also the kind of place that seeing it leaves you speechless. Yes, because when you don’t expect it, beauty conquers you, amazes you, enchants you. Presicce has precisely this power, so small but so graceful.

It is no coincidence that it is part of the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy, an association that aims to enhance the great historical, artistic, cultural, environmental heritage and traditions of those villages unjustly marginalised by tourist flows. Presicce, in fact, deserves to be discovered and we can’t wait to tell you about it!
Ancient village of Presicce

History of Presicce

The origins of the village of Presicce are not clear, it seems, however, that the first settlements date back to the 7th century, linked to the presence of superficial aquifers. Even the origin of its name is uncertain: there are many assumptions, legends and stories behind it and the birth of Presicce. However, the village’s coat of arms, a deer drinking from a spring, seems to confirm one of the theories, according to which the birth of the village was determined by the need for water, prompting the inhabitants of Pozzomauro and the neighbouring towns of Specchiano, Ugento and Pompignano to settle there. Among the various theories on the origin of the name, however, the most plausible one seems to belong to the historian Giacomo Arditi, according to whom the etymology of the term is “Praesitium”, “Praesitio”, “Presicce”.

In 1088, Presicce became part of the Principality of Taranto, passing through the hands of various noble families such as the Securo, De Specola, Gonzaga, Brayda and Bartilotti Princes. In 1714, the feud, elevated to a principality, passed to the De’ Liguoro, who attempted an agrarian reform by entrusting the land to peasants in emphyteusis and building oil mills to produce olive oil for export to Naples and Spain.

In 1745, 17 “trappeti” were surveyed.

What to see in Presicce

Even though it is a small town, it is worth dedicating at least half a day to this splendid hamlet.

Here is what to see in Presicce, follow our advice! 😉

The old town centre

The historic centre of Presicce is one of the main sights, as it is here that all the authenticity of the village resides. The marvellous courtyard houses dating back to the 16th century, a tangle of narrow streets, small churches and Baroque palaces immersed in deafening silence. Presicce, in fact, is a truly peaceful town and walking through the streets of the centre provides a fascinating timeless atmosphere.

presicce borghi più belli d'italia
Pic by Ilaria Rizzo

Ancient underground oil mills

One of the main features of Presicce is the presence of the “trappeti”, or underground oil mills, where olives were processed to make oil. The warm climate and fertile soil allowed the town to develop the agricultural sector, leaving important evidence of industrial archaeology today. In fact, there are 23 underground oil mills in the Presicce area, 8 of which are in the historic centre.

Church of Sant’Andrea Apostolo

The mother church of Sant’Andrea Apostolo di Presicce was built between 1778 and 1781 and still retains its Renaissance bell tower, dating back to the mid-16th century. Its refined and elegant façade was built in the Baroque style, while the interior is in the shape of a Latin cross with a single nave and no less than nine altars richly decorated with precious stuccoes.

St Andrew’s Column

Directly opposite the Church of St Andrew the Apostle is the votive Column of St Andrew. Commissioned by the Bartilotti princes at the beginning of the 18th century, it was built in Baroque style with the shaft placed on a base surrounded by a balustrade surmounted by four female figures depicting the cardinal virtues.

Chiesa di Sant'Andrea Apostolo presicce1

The Ducal Palace

The Ducal Palace in Presicce holds over a thousand years of history. In fact, four different building phases can be seen: the first dates back to the mediaeval fortress; the second phase took place between the 16th and 17th centuries, under the seigniory of the Gonzaga, the Cito-Moles and the Bartilotti-Piccolomini d’Aragona families; the third phase took place in the 18th century, with the renovation of the palace courtyard, the addition of Baroque elements and the double flight of steps leading to the main floor; finally, the fourth phase concerns the palace exterior, when Duke Paternò decided to add the merlons belonging to neo-Gothic art.

Casa Turrita

The Casa Turrita, or Tower of San Vincenzo, was part of Presicce’s defence system, but was later converted into a residence, adding some living quarters. Since 2012, after restoration, it has become the property of the Municipality of Presicce and has been made accessible.

Museum of Rural Civilisation

The Museum of Rural Civilisation in Presicce bears witness to the Salento rural culture of the past. Located in the Baronial Palace, it is divided into four different themed rooms: the Earth Room, the Fire Room, the Water Room and the Time Room. It houses ancient relics kindly donated by private citizens.

Arditi Chapel

The Arditi Chapel was built in 1767 by Gaspare Arditi and is considered one of Presicce’s jewels, thanks to its beautiful Baroque-Rococo façade.

Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli

The church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, with the adjacent convent of the Reformed Fathers, is located outside the centre, where Pozzomauro once stood. The church has a T-shaped Latin cross plan and a single nave. Along the walls are eight altars and in the transept are the church’s oldest frescoes. The convent, on the other hand, is built around a cloister with a central well: after being suppressed in 1866, it was abandoned and suffered several thefts.

Church of Our Lady of Loreto

The Church of Our Lady of Loreto, is a small, pretty rural church of Basilian origin, located on the slight hillock of Serra di Pozzomauro. Inside, it has a rectangular structure with a barrel vault and a simple altar with a fresco of a Madonna and Child among angels.

Church of Carmine

The Church of Carmine, together with the convent in honour of St John the Baptist, was built in the second half of the 16th century thanks to a donation by an inhabitant of Presicce, Martino Alfarano, to the Carmelites of Lecce. Of outstanding workmanship is the high altar made of Lecce stone decorated with carvings, bas-reliefs and statues. In 1652, the convent was suppressed for the first time, later it housed the friars and in 1809 it was suppressed again, but this time permanently. It has undergone several renovations over the years and now houses the municipal police headquarters, the municipal library and is used for socio-cultural activities.

Where to eat in Presicce

Want to try typical Salento cuisine? Discover some of the best places where you can enjoy it. With our recommendations, you can try the genuine and authentic flavours of the Apulian tradition. Here are some of the best restaurants in Presicce:

  • Antica Pietra Filosofale
  • Trattoria Salento Curti Vecchi
  • Restaurant Pizzeria Mascapati

How to get to Presicce

The Salento area is not particularly well connected. The best way to travel around Salento is by car, but if this is not among your options, here are our tips for getting to Presicce by public transport:

Getting to Presicce by plane

To get to Presicce by plane, you will have to fly to Brindisi airport, which is 107 km from Presicce.

How to get from Brindisi airport to Presicce:

The easiest way to get to Presicce from Brindisi airport would be to take a taxi or rent a car directly at the airport. Alternatively, you can take a bus to Brindisi station, here take a train heading to Lecce and then, from Lecce, take another train towards Gagliano-Leuca, which stops in Presicce.

Getting to Presicce by Train

To get to Presicce by train, you can take one towards Lecce, which is 68.6 km from the village.

How to get from Lecce station to Presicce:

To get to Presicce from Lecce station you can take the regional train in the direction of Gagliano-Leuca and get off at Presicce. You can check all train times here.

Beaches and Sea in Presicce

The location of Presicce makes it easy to reach some of the most beautiful beaches on both the Ionian and Adriatic Seas. This is, in fact, an area with a great variety of landscapes.

Let us therefore see which are the most beautiful beaches near Presicce:

  • Torre San Giovanni: this area is divided into two parts, on the northern side as far as Torre del Faro there are low wild cliffs and a few small sandy areas; on the opposite side, however, there is a long, wide beach of fine, light-coloured sand and a crystal-clear sea with shallow waters for many metres;
  • Lido Marini: this area is also characterised by two different environments. In the north you can find wide and long sandy beaches, where the water is particularly shallow at the shore; on the other hand, in the south there are wilder areas suitable for rock lovers;
  • Torre Pali: characterised by a tower immersed in blue waters, it consists of a cove of golden sand and a few stretches with pebbles;
  • Pescoluse and the Maldives of Salento: one of the most famous beaches in Salento, if you don’t like chaos, it is definitely to be avoided during high season. Here the fine, slightly golden sand kisses crystal-clear waters with shallows for tens of metres;
  • Torre Mozza: a wild, unequipped beach with fine sand and shallow waters, perfect for families;
  • San Gregorio: a particularly wild area characterised by cliffs.

Torre San Giovanni salento

In the surroundings:

Presicce is surrounded by enchanting places, many of which are less well known. In fact, this is an area little travelled by mass tourism, so enjoy the tranquillity, especially in the low season! Here is what to see around Presicce:

  • Specchia and the Church of Sant’Eufemia 7 km away
  • Cave and Cipolliane path 23 km away
  • Ciolo Bridge 23.2 km away
  • Santa Maria di Leuca 16.5 km away
  • “Cazzato-Carratta” Casino away
  • Ruffano 14,7 km away
  • Matino 25 km away
  • Parabita 27.7 km away
  • Otranto 45,7 km away
  • Gallipoli 31,4 km away
  • Lecce 68,6 km away

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