Wheelchair travel in Puglia: Lecce and the Salento
Visiting Lecce in a wheelchair
More than any other city in Puglia, Lecce impressed us with its profusion, richness and excellent preservation of its architectural estate. The city is overflowing with cathedrals, basilicas, churches and other religious buildings from the baroque period. That’s why Lecce is considered one of the European capital of baroque art. The building facades, all built out of limestone, combine together to give the city a harmonious appearance. At the same time, many details carved in the rocks make each of them unique. The insides of those religious buildings look even more impressive. They are decorated with many sculptures, paintings, gold decorations and statues. When I think about these churches and cathedrals the first words that come up in my mind are splendour and refinement. Sometimes, Lecce history is shown through its architecture, reminding us of the Greek settlement. Indeed they founded Lecce in the 4th century BC.
Santa Maria Assunta Cathedral
Church ” Chiesa di Santa Chiara”
Church “Chiesa di San Matteo”
For once the outside is more interesting than the inside! Indeed the facade is made of two parts : one concave and one convex. Look at it!
In Lecce you will find a well-known big roman amphitheatre in the centre plaza. But hidden down Lecce small alleys, you can find a secret roman theatre, built in the 1st and 2nd centuries. It is surely not the Colosseum but this theatre managed to bring me back some centuries ago. While observing those yellowish rocks, which are even more charming under the sunset light, I thought about gladiators fighting (I know, this a theatre and not an arena but still!). But times change… Today many wild cats made this historical building their home. Unfortunately they are not in great shape. Most of them seem to have an eye disease.
Basilica di Santa Croce
Accessibility in Lecce:
- The city is flat and the ground is made of big flat pavements (more like tiles) which are easy to roll on with a wheelchair.
- Where to sleep? At the agriturismo “Masseria la Lizza” in an abbey renovated by Luigina who will welcome you with a generous smile and will be available to help you plan your visits in the region. The breakfast is a great time to have a chat with her. Plus, breakfasts are awesome! Regarding accessibility, it is possible to park your car just in front of the disabled guest room to avoid to have to roll on gravels. There is a 4cm sill to enter the room which is spacious. It is easy to get around in the wheelchair. The bathroom is equipped with a shower seat, grab bars in the shower and near the toilet. The only problem might be the bed. Indeed there is a 23cm edge between the outside of the bed and the mattress (photo below) so it could make transfers difficult for some people. Also to get to the breakfast room there is a step but it is possible to ask Luigina to eat in your room (there is a table) or on the terrace.
Accessibility in Gallipoli:
- There is a ramp to enter in the cathedral di Sant’ Agata but there is one last step going down just behind the door.
- The old town ground is covered by uneven cobblestones. It is still possible to get around but that’s quite difficult and not comfortable. Manual wheelchair users will need someone’s else help sometimes.
- The city centre (not historical) is easy to get around in a wheelchair but there is nothing special to visit there.
The castle of Otranto
Bauxite quarry (Bauxite della cava)
Accessibility in Otranto:
- Transports and trips
- Where to eat?
- You will find many wheelchair accessible restaurants along the waterfront, near the beach.
- Agriturismo da Marta (Via Orte, 73028 Otranto) is a must do! Have a diner here is a really nice experience. The food is very good, generous, simple but authentic. Every meals are cooked with home made ingredients from the farm. Including the flour used to cooked desserts and pastas! Only the wine is not home made. Plus, at the end of the meal you will meet Marta. Quite a woman! Despite being in her 90’s she continues to run the restaurant with her two daughters! And on the top of that, having a diner at Marta’s restaurant is affordable. Indeed for a full diner (aperitif, starter, first meal, second meal, dessert and wine) we paid 53 euros for 2 people. Regarding accessibility, there is an alley covered with gravels between the car park and the restaurant. So if you go there with someone else I would advice you to be dropped at the restaurant entrance. From there, there is a last small step. To book you will need to call +39 0836 801233 (Italian mainly/ a few words in English) or to go directly there the day before.
- Where to sleep?
During our travel we stayed in a double room with patio at the Agriturismo Fontanelle, located at 10 minutes driving from Otranto and near the beach. This accommodation is wheelchair accessible and is equipped with a adapted bathroom but it will not suit every wheelchair user as there are some design failure: the toilet seat is quit low (47cm high), transferring from the wheelchair to the toilet seat or shower seat is possible only if the wheelchair is less than 60cm width and there a small sill (2.5cm high) to enter the bathroom.
The delicious home made breakfast is served in the garden every morning.
The accommodation is close to a pine forest where it is nice to go for a walk. If you cross the pine forest you will arrive at the beach. But to reach the actual beach is impossible for people with reduced mobility as there is a small cliff to go down.
Locorotondo and Galatina
Locorotondo is one of my favorite places to visit in Apulia. It is a really charming village: calm and preserved from souvenirs shops in every streets. While walking in Locorotondo alleys you’ll more likely find craftmen shops. But before crossing the old town gate, from villa Garibaldi park, you can admire the view upon the olive trees fields and trulli scattered in the countryside. Then, in the old town, the church “Chiesa Madre Parrocchia di San Giorgio Martire”, also called Church of Saint George, is interesting to visit and is wheelchair accessible.
Road trip in the Salento
If you spend your vacation in Puglia you will surely rent a car and drive from a city to another. When visiting the Salento do not miss a road trip between Otranto and Leuca, following the coastal road. This scenic road is marvellous. On the contrary, the Salento inland roads are not so. I found them quite sad and dreadful. They made me think of the western roads without tumbleweed. More to the north, out of the Salento, the Apulian inside roads are different: sometimes sad because of their dryness and sometimes picturesque thanks to the olive trees fields. But everywhere we noticed the same issue: there are a lot of dumped trash along the roads…
Despite this, Puglia is a beautiful region. So if you want to travel there you can read my post about the first week of our travel in Puglia in the Terra di Bari and the Itria valley. You can also discover our travel budget and itinerary.
Travellers with reduced mobility, this article about the most beautiful and wheelchair accessible beaches in Apulia can also be useful.
Enjoy your travel!
Did you like this post? Feel free to check out my Patreon page to see how you can support the creation of new ones and be a part of iwheeltravel!
And of course, you can share, like and subscribe, to be aware of the lastest posts.