The charming and up-market spa town of Santa Cesareo Terme is located on a steep cliff side sheering down into deep blue water close inshore. Overlooking the sea the town stands in an area of outstanding beauty comprising part of the Costa Otranto National Park.
A relatively new town, its development on a rocky coastline, riddled with underground caverns and fissured rock strata was encouraged by the presence of hot natural springs.
These hot mineral springs, with thermal waters rich in iodine, sulphurs and sodium chloride, rising up through the porous bedrock of the area from deep underground, have formed a network of aquifers that puncture the underlaying rock strata before draining through cave systems into the cold salty waters of the Adriatic Sea.
The most significant of these sulphurous grottos are the four cisterns of Feidida, Solfurea, Gattula and Solfatura whose endless waters at different temperature ranges have encouraged the towns development into a renowned Spa, and today, its range of thermal baths support an important health centre bringing tourists and visitors from all over Italy and further beyond.
Known throughout early history, it was only in the 1700’s that upper class citizens and the local aristocracy started to build residences here for holidaying whilst indulging in the health giving waters of the mineral springs.
Over the years magnificent Villas, Palazzos and extravagant summer residences extended the town, and elegant avenues connected them whilst the towns heart developed with fashionable hotels and accommodations for visitors from further afield.
Some of the more indulgent residences were designed and constructed in wonderful styles such as the magnificent Palazzo Sticchi, hanging from the cliff face and whose Moorish architecture impresses all who see it, and Villa Raffaella now converted to luxurious apartments.
Today the town is a thriving tourist destination, with the seafront promenades thronged with cafes and small shops, pizzerias and restaurants, where it is possible to sip coffee or dine al-fresco on the outside terraces with views to the sea just 100 metres away. Gelaterias serve a dizzying selection of wonderful ice-creams with flavours and colours to confuse the most discerning customers, and claimed to be the best in the whole of the Salento.
The thermal baths are open from May through till November, and nowadays the waters are regulated at a temperature of less than 40° Celsius as indicated for therapeutic usage. The various hot mud and mineral treatments combat arthritic and rheumatoid problems, as well as respiratory, dermatological, trauma and stress ailments. They are also recommended for general well being and beauty treatments.
Behind the town, the scenery comprises low rolling hill, interspersed with long rocky outcrops covered with low Mediterranean shrubland, comprising grassland and scrub, tangy with the smell of wild herbs whilst in springtime and early summer a riot of colour from the wild flowers carpets the area.
The landscape disintegrates into a rocky litoranea tumbling into the sea and stretching away to the north and south in a fractured coastline, with deep blue water foaming at the lands edge, whilst small sandy coves such as Porto Miggiano break up the rocky coastal ridges that are woven with half submerged caverns and grottoes.
An ancient local legend claims that the area got its name because a young woman called Cisaria fled from her abusive father and hiding in one of the many grottos, lost her life when she slipped and fell into the hot waters below, an alternative version of the legend claims that it was the pursuing father who slipped and died. Whatever the origins of its name, Santa Cesarea Terme, is charming resort town and is a well recommended excursion to visit, about an hours drive down the beautiful Salento coastline from whichever of our holiday Villas you have chosen to book.