Santa Maria di Leuca, part of the Municipality of Castrignano del Capo (Le) is one of the most famous tourist resorts of Puglia, as well as the most southerly inhabited center of the entire province and extreme heel of Italy.
Wild and characterized by rugged rocks, promontories on the sea and unspoiled nature, the Marina di Leuca is between Punta Ristola to the west, the extreme southern tip of Salento and Mèliso tip to the east, located at the foot of the promontory. And it is from here, that sometimes, it is possible to see on the sea a sort of longitudinal separation line, quite distinct on the chromatic level, which has always suggested to the popular imagination a real border between the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea. For the tourist visiting, the dive from the Punta, to the meeting of the two seas, is in fact often a ritual but, alas, the visitor does not know that, to discourage this venture, you place first of all, the height of the promontory from which to make the jump and, secondly, the truth about the division of the coasts. It seems, in fact, that the line of demarcation on the sea identified at Punta Meliso is only a nautical convention and that instead, the official boundary is given by the Otranto Channel ie the sea strait between the easternmost point d Italy (Punta Palascia) and Cape Linguetta in Albania.
The legend How come the town takes the name of Santa Maria di Leuca? Also in this case, the shake is between the sacred and the profane, between myth and ritual. The Madonna is considered protectress of the fishermen for an episode that occurred in the sixteenth century, during which, it is said, the Virgin saved the fishermen and the inhabitants from a terrible storm. But the name of Leuca derives from a beautiful myth linked to ancient Greece. It is a story of love and sorrow that sees Leucasia as protagonist, a siren (from Leucòs, “white” in Greek, used to define also the sea foam). The harmonious song of the creature had never resisted anyone except Melisso, a shepherd who grazed his sheep on the rocks. Leucasia fell in love with him, but the young man’s heart already belonged to another girl, Aristula. So the siren plotted her revenge and, waiting for the lovers to descend on the rocks for a romantic walk, set off a storm and drowned them. Not only. He made sure that their bodies were forever separated on the two opposite edges of a gulf. The Goddess Minerva, who had witnessed the scene, decided for pity towards the two lovers, to offer them eternity, petrifying their bodies. Those bodies, which are today for all two heads of promontories, Punta Meliso and Punta Ristola. Two ends designed to never touch each other, which together embrace a surface of water, right there, on the edge of the earth.
Festivals and Traditions
Free and arranged by the owners, access to the wonderful nineteenth-century villas, it is usually possible during a Sunday in May, in occasion of the “Villas in party” event, during which the villas are open to the public for a guided tour with tasting of food and wine specialties or display of floro-vivaicole compositions.
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