Santa Caterina in Salento: what to see, sea and restaurants [2023]

Santa Caterina nel Salento is a small seaside resort located on the Ionian coast a few steps from the most beautiful Salento beaches.< /span>
This gem, part of the Municipality of Nardò, is located between Porto Selvaggio and Santa Maria al Bagno, on a stretch of coast it holds innumerable natural beauties and a wild and untouched spirit. In this article we will explore together the hidden treasures of Santa Caterina, discovering what to do and see, where to eat and what to visit in the surrounding area.

What to see in Santa Caterina in Salento?

Santa Caterina, as we said, is a rather wild destination, characterized by a small strip of beach and a rocky area that plunges into the deep blue of the Ionian. This exclusive seaside resort is known not only for the sea, but also for the presence of marvelous royal villas, residences of the nobles of the past and homes of the new bourgeoisie. Furthermore, thanks to the small tourist port, in the summer Santa Caterina is teeming with beautiful boats.

santa caterina nel salento

But let’s see together what to see in Santa Caterina:

Tower of Santa Caterina

Built in the 16th century, the tower had a defensive function to protect the coasts of the Salento peninsula. The construction is characterized by a truncated conical base with a square plan, separated from the upper body by a stringcourse frame. The upper floor, equipped with windows, ends with a cornice with corbels and is provided with machicolations. The inside of the tower houses two superimposed rooms, the ground floor was used as a shelter for animals or as a tool shed, while the first floor, divided into three rooms, was used as a residence. The tower communicated to the north with the Torre dell’Alto and to the south with the Torre del Fiume di Galatena.

Alto Tower

It is an imposing tower, inside the Park of Porto Selvaggio and Palude del Capitano. Its construction, which stands 51 meters above sea level, dates back to the second half of the 16th century, when the Spanish viceroy Don Pietro da Toledo designed a control system of the Salento coasts to protect the region from pirate raids. Its structure is composed of a truncated pyramid-shaped base with a square plan, equipped with a large tuff staircase with three arches that allows access, and an upper floor with merlons, ten machicolations and a cornice with corbels. The inside of the tower consists of two superimposed rooms, equipped with a cistern for water supply, and was used as a storehouse on the ground floor and as a home for the cavalry on the first floor. The Torre dell’Alto communicated to the north with Torre Uluzzo and to the south with Torre Santa Caterina, constituting an important defense system of the Salento coast. Today the tower represents a great historical testimony of the area and a tourist attraction for those visiting Salento.

The beach

The only beach of Santa Caterina in Salento is located right at the foot of the village, a small bay of a few tens of metres strong>, with clear, fine sand and crystalline blue water. But it is certainly not the only place to enjoy the sea of ​​Santa Caterina. The coast, in fact, is much loved for its rocks and seabeds that slope slowly. An area frequented by those who prefer the harsher landscape and adventure. However, there are terraced bathing establishments with wooden platforms, which offer more comfortable options for those who prefer it.

Santa Caterina Lecce

The baths of Santa Caterina in Salento

The bathroom room in Santa Caterina nel Salento is a fascinating and mysterious place, accessible from various openings that outline its history. The first opening, perhaps the main entrance, has the leaves of a door that is still present, a sign of the building’s glorious past. The second opening, on the other hand, appears more uneven and difficult to reach, but the third opening is the most evocative and fascinating: a semi-submerged hole that allows access from the sea.

The bathroom was created for ladies of a certain rank, who could benefit from bathing in the sea with the utmost discretion and confidentiality. The rooms were built ad hoc, close to the cliff, and the sea water formed covered natural pools. The ladies accessed it from the ground and could bathe in peace, away from prying eyes and the scorching sun that could have burned their delicate skin. This bathroom room is a precious example of a distant past, in which the sea was a place of luxury and privilege, reserved only for a select few.

To visit the room of the baths of Santa Caterina, just reach the beach and enter from the opening on the left of the bay.

Santa Caterina nel Salento

Salento Santa Caterina

How is the sea in Santa Caterina in Salento?

The sea of ​​Santa Caterina in Salento is a clear and crystalline body of water with seabed rich in fish and a suggestive landscape characterized by the colors of the luxuriant nature. Along the coast there are numerous caves accessible only by sea, where the water is tinged with green and blue colors recreating suggestive sensations.

Where to swim in Santa Caterina?

The stretch of coast of Santa Caterina in Salento offers numerous opportunities for swimming and enjoying the pristine sea. Here are some places to dive in:

  • Spiaggia della Rotonda Il Chiapparo
  • Lido Beija Flor 
  • Santa Caterina Beach
  • I salotti
  • Il Porticciolo
  • Il Circolo Nautico La Vela 
  • Frescura

Santa Caterina in Salento where to eat

Santa Caterina nel Salento offers a wide range of options to satisfy the palate of its visitors. From pizza to fresh fish, you will surely find what is right for you. Here are some of the best clubs and restaurants in Santa Caterina nel Salento:

  • Larilò – Santa Caterina
  • Mareientu Ristorante
  • Barrueco
  • Art Nouveau

Santa Caterina Salento restaurants

The caves in Santa caterina

Santa Caterina nel Salento is surrounded by a breathtaking coastal landscape, which also includes some fascinating sea caves. Here are some of the most famous caves in the area:

  • Grotta di Capelvenere: located along the road that connects the Torre dell’Alto to the current town of Santa Caterina di Nardò, it opens 16 meters above sea level on a small limestone promontory. This ancient structure has attracted the attention of scholars over the years, and in fact several excavation campaigns have been conducted inside. These archaeological investigations, dating back to 1961, 1971, 1974 and 1975, were directed by the illustrious archaeologist Edoardo Borzatti von Löwenstern of the Italian Institute of Prehistory and Protohistory.
  • Grotta del Cavallo: it is located, however, at the entrance to the bay of Uluzzo, a wonderful inlet on the Neretina coast located inside of the Regional Park of Porto Selvaggio and Palude del Capitano. The bay is dominated by the Uluzzo Tower, built in medieval times, which visually communicated with the Inserraglio Tower to the north and the Santa Maria dell’Alto Tower to the south.

What to see around Santa Caterina?

Santa Caterina, thanks to its position, is an excellent base for staying in Salento, especially if you want to explore the Ionian coast, immerse yourself in nature and discover the surrounding villages. Let’s see together what to see near Santa Caterina in Salento:

  • Porto Selvaggio a 5,8 km;
  • Santa Maria al Bagno a 4 km;
  • Padula Bianca a 8 km;
  • Rivabella a 13 km;
  • Gallipoli a 15,8 km;
  • Torre Inserraglio a 10 km;
  • Torre Uluzzo a 5 km;
  • Torre Lapillo a 25 km;
  • Porto Cesareo a 20 km;
  • Nardò a 7,8 km;
  • Copertino a 23,4 km;
  • Leverano a 23,5 km;
  • Lecce a 36,8 km;
  • Galatina a 26,7 km.

Are you looking for a structure in Salento? Browse our categories!

Team HDSalento

Team HDSalento

Articles by the HDSalento team

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