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Porto Cesareo

Porto Cesareo is a municipality of approximately 6,000 inhabitants in the province of Lecce in Puglia.

Tourist resort in Salento located on the Ionian coast of the Salento peninsula, it is home to a protected marina and a regional nature reserve



The municipal territory extends over an area of approximately 35 km² and is bathed by the Ionian Sea.

It falls in the so-called Terra d'Arneo, an area that takes its name from an ancient farmhouse and includes several municipalities sharing the same landscape characterization.



The coastline, almost entirely sandy, extends for about 20 km (from Porto Cesareo to Punta Prosciutto) and is characterized by a crystalline and transparent sea, enchanting beaches and coves, coastal dunes, wetlands, rocks and various islets. Among the latter, the Big Island (or Rabbit Island) covered with Aleppo pines and acacias and the Malva Island.

The particularly rich seabed hosts the "submerged Posidonia prairie" in the sandy areas, which guarantees oxygen, shelter and nourishment for numerous marine organisms.

The marine fauna consists of crustaceans, molluscs, fish and turtles. The extraordinary biological interest of the "posidonieto" contributed to the establishment of the protected marine natural area of Porto Cesareo in 1997.



The climate is Mediterranean tending towards subtropical, with summer temperatures from April to October and mild, windy winters. Precipitation is mainly concentrated in winter.



In Roman times it was called Portus Sasinae, an important port used for the trade of agricultural products from the rich inland areas, but the place was already inhabited in prehistoric times (Scalo di Furno village) and in the Bronze Age by sailors of Greek origin.

It fell into abandonment due to pirate raids and the swamping of the area until the arrival, around the year 1000, of some Basilian monks who built an abbey which they inhabited until the 15th century. In that period it developed as a port for trade with Sicily and the maritime republics.

Around the 18th century, thanks to the "tonnara" activity, it became populated by fishing families, who occupied the peninsula of the current municipality.

In the following decades, the subdivision and sale of land to fishing families allowed the development of the first urban layout which, in the 1930s, also thanks to the reclamation of the Tavoliere di Lecce, became important not only as a fishing port but also as a tourist-seaside resort .

In 1975, Porto Cesareo became an autonomous municipality and since 1997 the municipality has been home to a marine protected area, for the protection of biodiversity present in marine environments. The area, located between Punta Prosciutto and Torre Inserraglio, extends up to seven miles from the coast.

Finally, in 2006 the regional nature reserve "Palude del Conte e Duna Costiera" was established, characterized by a vast depression behind the dunes with hygrophilous and halophilous vegetation.


Coastal towers

Along the coast there are five watchtowers built in the 16th century to protect the Salento peninsula from enemy invasions: Torre Squillace, Torre Cesarea, Torre Lapillo, Torre Chianca and Torre Castiglione.

Archaeological sites

- Furno port

Location north of the town of Porto Cesarea in which a village dating back to the Bronze Age has been identified.

- Roman columns of Torre Chianca

On the sandy seabed in front of Torre Chianca, there are five columns of cipollino marble placed parallel to one another. These are monolithic columns 9 meters long, dating back to the 2nd century AD. and they are from the Roman era; their presence in the sea and their singular parallel position suggest a shipwreck.


The coast of Porto Cesareo is made up of two rivieras.

Eastern Riviera: includes the town's beach and, extending eastwards, reaches the Strea peninsula, forming a suggestive and beautiful lagoon.

Western Riviera: made up of 20 kilometers of circular beaches, mostly low and sandy, with a crystalline sea unique in beauty and colours, alternating with low cliffs. On the western coast there are a large number of bathing establishments, very well organized and comfortable, some also open in the winter season for heliotherapy.

The first beach is Primo Ponte (due to a small bridge under which a canal flows) which ends with the rocky spur of Scalo di Furno; here the suggestive Dune beach opens up: high and impervious dunes frame a breathtaking sea

You then arrive near Torre Chianca, located in the center of two small inlets, after which the larger beach begins which, passing through the towns of Belvedere, Bacino Grande and Lago Sereno, ends at Torre Lapillo.

After passing this marina, the coast becomes rocky interspersed with small coves up to Torre Castiglione, a little frequented and impervious place surrounded by "spunnulate", karst sinkholes which, reaching the water table, give life to caves and lakes.

The beach of Padula Fede then opens up, known to the locals by the name of "horse beach" and followed by, interspersed with rocks and sand, Lido degli Angeli, dominated by high and lush dunes, bordering the next and famous beach of Punta Prosciutto, one of the most beautiful on the entire Ionian coast of Salento.





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