Salento, also known as the Salento peninsula and the Tacco d’Italia, is a sub-region of Italy that stretches out in the south of Puglia, between the Ionian Sea to the west and the Adriatic Sea to the east.
The inhabitants of the area which takes in all the province of Lecce, almost all of Brindisi and part of Taranto, stand out for their cultural and glottological characteristics that differ from the rest of the region. From a historical viewpoint, Salento has for many years been part of the ancient district called Terra d'Otranto.
One of the main sources of economic income is tourism which leads the beaches and fortified farm houses of the Salento region to be packed with tourists during the summer period. A niche phenomenon is linked to the attention paid by wealthy foreign tourists, mostly British, to Salento’s rural hospitality to the extent that, according to some, a similar development process is underway to that experienced some years ago in the Tuscan countryside, jokingly referred to as Salentoshire in reference to the similarly jokey term of Chiantishire used to define an area of Tuscany. The phenomenon can be seen above all in the provinces of Brindisi and Lecce.
Food and wine
The Salento cuisine is characterised by numerous typical dishes, especially fish and vegetable-based, and is accompanied by famous and fine DOC wines such as Primitivo di Manduria or Negroamaro.
The more typical dishes include pezzetti, a dish made of horse meat served in a spicy sauce, and pitta di patate, a flat pizza made of potatoes containing a large quantity of vegetables such as onions, turnips and tomatoes.
The olive bread called puccia is also typical and as regards so-called street food, there is the rustico, a thin sheet of baked pastry containing a mix of béchamel, mozzarella, tomato, pepper and occasionally nutmeg.
Another typical dish is frisedde or frise, rings of twice-baked bread with an extremely hard consistency, often made using barley and split horizontally halfway through baking, which are then softened by being dipped in water and served with oil, salt and tomatoes.
Pittule (or pettule), are also popular, large fritters filled with turnips, courgette flowers, salt cod or without any filling and served dipped in cooked wine.
The sweets and pastries are also famous, similar to those served in Sicily rather than in the rest of Puglia, and mention must be made of the
pasticciotto leccese, fruttone, bocche di dama, pasta di mandorla and spumone salentino.