One of the most charming and off the beaten path destinations that Puglia has to offer is the delightful town of Specchia, which can be found somewhere between the quaint town of Presicce and the golden town of Andrano. Here’s your ultimate guide to the best things to do in Specchia, as well as travel tips and what to know before visiting!
- Where is Specchia?
- What is Specchia known for?
- Things to do in Specchia
- Things to know before visiting Specchia
- Frequently asked questions about Specchia
Where is Specchia?
The tiny speck of a town that is Specchia boasts a population of just under 5000 inhabitants and is located on the Salento peninsula at the very base of the ‘heel’ of the boot of Italy.
The town is perched atop a hill and isn’t too far away from the Adriatic sea. Historically, the entirety of the town would have been encircled with fortified walls, though little of these fortifications remain to this day.
As well as ancient olive groves, the hills of the South of Puglia are also famed for their ‘masserie’ (plural of masseria), fortified farm houses which typically date back to the 16th-century. Today, many of these farms have been converted into luxury places to stay.
What is Specchia known for?
Widely regarded to be one of the Borghi Più Belli d’Italia (Prettiest Towns of Italy), today Specchia is best-known for its historic town centre and handful of ancient buildings. The earliest attestation of inhabitation of the town dates all the way back to the 9th-century.
The Salento peninsula was constantly under invasion during the Middle Ages, and for this reason, many of the towns in the area are built at the highest viewpoints in the area. During the 11th and 12th-centuries, Normans lived in the town.
It was during the Medieval period that Specchia began to become famous for its olive production, of which the vestiges of this history can still be spied around town nowadays. This continued right up until the 19th-century. In in 2007, Specchia was awarded an EDEN award (European Destination of Excellence) on account of how lovely it is.
Things to do in Specchia
Enjoy a drink in Piazza del Popolo
Lying in the shadow of two of the most important buildings in Specchia, Castello Risolo on one side of the square, with the the Chiesa Madre on the other, Piazza del Popolo is the most ‘happening’ place in town. We personally enjoyed a drink at the Bar Al Castello and I particularly loved my crisp glass of white wine while watching the sun go down.
Get lost in the old town
Like many towns in Puglia, the settlement of Specchia centres itself around a ‘centro storico’ (historic old town) and it’s here where visitors will soon discover the most architecturally interesting and ancient buildings.
It’s worth noting that Specchia’s old town has been fully restored in recent decades, meaning that one of the best things to do in the Apulian town is simply to stroll around and allow yourself to get lost for an hour or two.
What makes this town particularly special is that the electric cables of Specchia have been dug deep underground, meaning that the Puglian town has been restored to its former glory and its even easier to get entranced by the history of the place.
By far the most impressive building architecturally speaking when it comes to Specchia is the Palazzo Risolo. This 16th-century castle was constructed on the site of a former medieval castle. Today, the palace can be found on the town’s main square.
Church of the Virgin Mary
Palazzo Risolo aside, the other main building in the town worth checking out is the Church of the Virgin Mary, which dates all the way back to the 15th-century. Nearby the Convento dei Francescani Neri finds its roots in the 16th-century.
Discover the olive oil history
In this part of the world, olive oil is akin to liquid gold and, for many centuries, the primary industry in town was the production of olive oil. Today, some of the buildings where oil was produced have been restored and can be visited as a tourist.
Things to know before visiting Specchia
One of the primary things to know before visiting Puglia is that, with the exception of bigger towns and cities, many smaller and off the beaten path places to see in Puglia are difficult to reach by public transportation.
Having your own four wheels is a must-see for those who wish to venture off the tourist track and explore the beautiful region at their own leisure. Check car rental comparison prices here. Once in Specchia, parking can be found on the roadside on the fringes of the Piazza del Popolo.
There is a tourist information in the heart of the town, on the central square of Piazza del Popolo. Tourist maps with a basic plan of the town are free and information is available in both English and Italian.
Frequently asked questions about Specchia
What is the population of Specchia?
As of 2017, the population of Specchia is 4780.
What are the best free things to do in Specchia?
Those visiting Specchia on a budget will be pleased to know that there are a number of low cost activities and attractions on offer. Some of the best free things to do in Specchia include wandering around the streets of the old town and snapping photos of the views of the surrounding hills.
Is Specchia in Puglia safe to visit?
Specchia generally as safe as most other destinations in Puglia. With this being said, visitors should be wary of pickpockets (which are present all over Europe). Never leave your valuables lying around or attended. I personally recommend always wearing a crossbody bag like these ones.
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