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The area

The ancient town of Santa Maria di Leuca has been dominated by most surrounding ruling powers at some point in history, and has therefore been subject to a vast array of cultural influences. Leuca is thought to have been named by Greek fishermen derived from the Greek word Leucòs, meaning white. Legend states that the siren Leucasia found rest here, and is another possible reason for the name. Later, Virgin Mary was added to the name as a dedication of the city during evangelisation of the area.

The Salento landscape is defined by the endless areas of symmetrically aligned olive trees, and is well known for its olive oil. In fact, Apulia produces half the country's output as the conditions for growing are ideal, combining dry lime soil with the intense heat of the sun. The style of the oil is characteristically robust, but you will find a wide range of oils including peppery and intense styles as well as more mellow and rounded and mature flavours. Look for the Olio Extravergine d'Oliva DOP certification. As our guests, we are happy to help arranging olive oil tastings or tours.

In recent years, Salento wines are getting increasing recognition. In the past, it has been a highly commercial industry based on volume and export, whereas now it is becoming known also for its exceptional quality. Types that are frequently produced here include NegroAmaro, Primitivo, Malvasia, Fiano and Greco. Please contact us if you wish to arrange for a wine tasting at the property or a vineyard. You will find a choice of wines on offer at the villa.

The region is also well known for the folk dance and music tradition of Pizzica or Tarantella. The music has Greek roots, but is fundamentally recognised as very much from Salento. Music is led by rhythmic tambourines and violins and/or accordion, while the dance is inspired by the imagined trance a person would experience after being stung by the poisonous spider tarantula. The dance technique is subject to many mystic tales and legends. Each year there is a music festival called Notte della Taranta (The Night of the Tarantula) featuring many famous musicians incorporating this almost magical music style with more modern genres. Many villages and towns feature Pizzica concerts or dance events throughout the summer season and are well worth seeking out.

Throughout the year there are several Feste or Sagre in each village. It is named after a saint or local speciality of foods. Food, music, dance and markets make a night out for all ages.

Beaches

The closest beaches are located in Leuca less than 1km away. Although it is walking distance from the villa, it is preferable to go by car in the strong Salento sun. There are many beaches to experience in this region for every type of preference you may have. In fact, why not explore a new beach each day of your stay! Many family friendly, some more suitable for more adventurous swimmers and others for experienced divers - and of course some excellent opportunities just to lay in the sun and work on your tan!

The strips of sandy and rocky beaches in Leuca are great for convenience and kids will happily spend hours chasing crabs and shrimp while adults can leisurely enjoy the convenience of the restaurants, local convenience shops and great bargain shopping during the busy market days. There are spots of free beaches where you can just bring along your towel and get into the water. Lido Azzurro, Lido Samarinda and Lido Giulia are among some of the balcony style beaches built on top of the rocks serviced by cafés, sunchairs and umbrellas where you pay by the half- or full-day.

Local cuisine

Salento is well known for its cuisine. Menus feature a wide range of locally sourced fresh fish (mullet, swordfish, gilthead bream, bass, squid, octopus and cuttlefish to name a few) and shellfish (sea urchin, langoustine, mussels and oysters); and a vast array of vegetables and legumes - many unique to this region. Pasta dishes are a standard feature. The flavours are simple, rustic and highly influenced by the robust and characteristic olive oil produced here. Pizza, focaccia, puccia and various types of dried savoury bread snacks like frisa and differently flavoured taralli are a regular feature.

Travelling with children

Villa del Faro has been designed with families in mind. The pool has a shallow pool section with large parasols to ensure that kids can have fun even during the hottest hours. The entire pool zone has gates that can be closed. Needless to say, despite measures taken to ensure a worry-free holiday, supervision is needed at all times. May we recommend that you look into bringing portable safety measures, eg. Aqua guard wrist pool alarm or similar.

There is also a play area under the olive trees in the private garden with a play house, sandpit and picnic table. We are also providing guests with various toys and beach equipment.

The cinema room has a range of family movies and a Wii console with a small selection of games.