Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Day 2 Otranto to Santa Maria di Leuca

The second day of exploring took us to an area I know well but with her I was pushed to see more. We started out in Otranto, which is a perfect little seaside town. It always gets high ratings for it’s beaches, hospitality, and etc. To me the road from Otranto to Santa Maria di Leuca is the really cool thing. It snakes along the coast and in some places its hundreds of feet above the sea and at regular intervals there are crumbling old watchtowers. With her I stopped a little more often than usual, which made the trip different and interesting. We were on vacation with no set schedule or rush. I love traveling like that. So we sat down and spent some time with a pair of incredibly cute dogs outside the church by the thermal baths at Santa Cesarea. You don’t know how bad I wanted to take the little black dog home.
The best stop by far is “the bridge”. In the picture you see the stairs we took all the way down to the little beach. But you don’t see the long and winding trail we took up the ravine until we were above everything. I’ve never been up there and I had no idea that you could even get up there until we did it. I would have never kept going if she wasn’t with me saying, “Let’s at least go around the next corner.” From our height the bridge looks small. They say that people dive off that bridge all the time in the summer. I’ve done some high jumps but I don’t think I’m ready for that one.
Several times when we stopped there were people cutting open sea urchins and eating them in outdoor cafes or temporary restaurants. So I had to get at least one photo of someone at work. The one in the photo may have been just a family lunch for all I know but I think it was a restaurant. We also saw several people out snorkeling for the urchins and spear fishing. This unfortunately gave her the idea that snorkeling would be something fun to do in April. The logistics of trying to do this was impossible because the next day was Easter and then the Monday after Easter so ALL stores were closed (after that we were heading out of town). Also we had the problem that I’ve become “thin skinned” from living where it doesn’t snow, as opposed to her thicker Michigan winterized skin. Sure a little cold water wouldn’t hurt her but I was sure it would kill me. Maybe I’ve been listening to the Italians too much. She did finally give up on the snorkeling idea.
When we finally arrived at the Monastery at Santa Maria di Leuca I noticed a few things had changed. The piazza in front of the Monastery is bigger now with a new fountain. Also the lighthouse had a new fence around it with a gate (and no signs saying “Zona Militare”). The Italia tourism website says you can climb the stairs in the lighthouse for an incredible view and I think that is the plan, just not yet, but it may be soon! It appeared to me they have made a new front to the lighthouse that would include a ticket office. I definitely want to get up there when it’s open. From there we took the straight inland road back to Brindisi.

Artistic photo by your truly.

That black dog was just so nice. I still can't believe I didn't bring him home. If I had a place in the country!

Serious sea urchin eating going on!

The best for last. You see the stairs down to the tiny beach. We had to go back the way we came all the way down there!


Kent and Lori said...

Jeff, Is this the bridge that we went over at night time and went half way down?

Jeff Gromen said...

Yep. This is it during the day! We had time so we hiked until we couldn't go any higher.