Salento is a geographic region at the southern end of the administrative region of Apulia in Southern Italy. It is a sub-peninsula of the Italian Peninsula, sometimes described as the "heel" of the Italian "boot".
It encompasses the entire administrative area of the province of Lecce.
The peninsula is also known as Terra d'Otranto, and in the past Sallentina. In ancient times it was called variously Calabria or Messapia.
The Salento is home to some of Italy's loveliest towns and cities: the sea-front fortified gems of Gallipoli and Otranto, the creamy baroque sophistication of Lecce and the luxurious seaside Liberty pleasures of Leuca.
Home to some of Italy's loveliest beaches and most dramatic rocky coastline, the Salento is a haven for sea lovers. From the southernmost tip near Leuca, running up the west coast to Gallipoli and beyond, is a vast almost non-stop strip of paradisiacal golden sand and transparent azure waters. To the east, the Adriatic coastline is more varied, offering sandy beaches, Karstic grottoes, chalk cliffs and salt-water lagoons.
Pompeii is at the base of Mount Vesuvius, a city that was frozen in time under a thick carpet of volcanic ash almost 2000 years ago. Pompeii, along with Herculaneum and many villas in the surrounding area, was mostly destroyed and buried under 13 to 20 feet of volcanic ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD.
Researchers believe that the town was founded in the seventh or sixth century BC by the Osci or Oscans. By the time of its destruction, 160 years later, its population was estimated at 11,000 people, and the city had a complex water system, an amphitheater, gymnasium, and a port.
The tragic vestige of people attempting to escape with their children and pets is still visible along with the preserved ruins of the Temples of Apollo, Jupiter and the Forum.
Italy's third-largest city is one of its oldest, most artistic and most delicious. Naples with , its archaeological treasures is among the world's most impressive, and its swag of glorious palaces, castles and churches make Rome look positively provincial.
Then there's the food. Blessed with rich volcanic soils, a bountiful sea, and centuries of culinary know-how, the Naples region is one of Italy's epicurean heavyweights, serving up the country's best pizza, pasta and coffee, and many of its most celebrated seafood dishes, street snacks and sweet treats.
Certainly, Naples' urban sprawl can feel anarchic, tattered and unloved. But look beyond the grime and graffiti and you'll uncover a city of breathtaking frescoes, sculptures and panoramas, of unexpected elegance, of spontaneous conversations and profound humanity. Welcome to Italy's most unlikely masterpiece.