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Santa Cesarea Terme
Photo: Loloieg

Santa Cesarea Terme

Santa Cesarea Terme is a spa town and commune in the province of Lecce, Apulia, in southern Italy. It lies around 50km outside the city centre, right in the middle of the heel of boot-shaped Italy. The coast looks out onto Corfu, Greece and the Adriatic Sea that separates them.

It’s a fairly new town with a population of 3,000. The commune is built onto a sloping rocky coastline, giving the appearance of the town having appeared from the rock. Surrounding the spa town are hot natural springs, which serve as the main feature bringing tourism to the town.

The hot mineral springs, which have been used since the 16th century, are rich in iodine, sulphurs and sodium chloride. The waters are said to provide relief for many ailments such as arthritis, dermatitis, respiratory disorders, rheumatism and stress. The springs rise up through the penetrable bedrock from deep underground and into a number of caves.

Nowadays, the water temperatures are controlled at less than 40° to ensure they are suitable for the beauty treatments and health remedies that attract so many visitors. The most well-known of the grottos are Feidida, Gattula, Solfatura and Solfurea.

The town has roots stemming back to the Ancient Greeks. Its early history is quite vague, although it was known for its hot springs as early as the 2nd century BC. However, the town as we know it only started to develop in the 18th century. The upper-class community of nearby city Lecce, having long been visiting the ancient springs, started building magnificent homes there. Of these, the most stunning is the Villa Sticchi, built in the Moorish style, with traditional Lecce stone being used to complete the magnificent loggia with mullioned windows.

For tourists, there are many seafood restaurants and bars dotted along the promenade. There are plenty of places to eat pizza, sio coffee and dine alfresco whilst looking over the emerald ocean. Porto Miggiano’s bay is wonderful for nature, colours and water brightness. The area is also known for its frozen dessert and many gelaterias compete for the unofficial title of best ice cream.

You can visit the four coastal defensive towers in the town, which were constructed by orders of King Carlo V to ward off pirates. Also, the gorgeous caves and coves can be visited by boat. The most famous of these is Grotta Zinzulusa. You can also spend all day swimming and lounging on the beaches of Porto Miggiano and Bagno Marino Archi.

For day trips out of Santa Cesarea Terme, you can visit the lovely seaside resort of Otranto. The town of Specchia is also considered to be i Borghi Più Belli d'Italia (one of “Italy’s most beautiful villages")

The town is also surrounded by the Costa Otranto Leuca e Bosco di Tricase Regional Nature Park.

The thermal baths are open from May until November.