We arrived just in time to catch the sunset at Santa Maria di Leuca. Also called Santa Maria di Finnibus Terrae, Leuca, at the very tip of the heel of the Italian “boot”, was seen as the end of the earth. And the place where the Adriatic and Ionian seas meet.
We were met by, Fabio, another good friend and our host/guide in Leuca. He rode the final 6 kilometers with us on his motorcycle- we had a good conversation yelled over the roar of his motor and he rode back and forth shouting encouraging words as the last of us struggled up the hill.
We arrived at Leuca’s lighthouse and sanctuary where we watched the sunset. It’s the perfect place to really “get” where you are. The wind blows your face, the waves crash on the cliffs below, the sun sets golden over the navy blue sea, and the sanctuary and it’s statues glow creamy yellow in the fading light. The name Leuca has a double etymology in Arabic and Greek, meaning “light” and “white” respectively. The city does indeed gleam with the light it reflects off the sea. It was divine.
Fabio explained the town’s history- that Leuca was built up by rich 19th century nobles who built funky colorful villas on the water. Then he showed us where the Pugliese aqueduct ends. Puglia is an arid region and traditionally suffers difficult droughts. The acueduct was a project built under Mussolini and considered the only good thing he did for the people. And every metal sewer plaque in the region carries the fascist symbol of a bundle of sticks and an axe!
Leuca- aqueduct or not- is a hot vacation spot these days. It’s a fun place to get dressed up, promenade along the water, and check out the Italian discotecas!