The Cipolliane Caves path is a country route starting from the majestic rocks of the inlet of Ciolo. It follows the pace of the coastline to the north, until it gets to the nice harbour of Marina di Novaglie.
The itinerary reveals the beauty and uniqueness of the Salento landscape, letting you walk through the green and abundant nature typical of the Mediterranean scrub. Here there is also the perfect combination of the impressive power and wildness of the Cipolliane Caves, which have this name due to the wild onions produced in the nearby, and the history of an agricultural population thanks to the many typical constructions you can find in the area. In the past, this itinerary was the road that people followed to bring salt and other goods from the coast to the inner part of the territory.
Start your way from the Ciolo inslet and come into this wonderful natural landscape surrounded by the blue waters of Salento. Since it is a bumpy road, you must be careful while walking, but you won't feel any effort because the pleasure given by the panoramic view will fill your heart with enthusiasm! Moreover, the itinerary is interesting also under a geological point of view: in Prehistoric times this territory was part of the sea floor, as evidence of broken seashells and marine fossils, and there are incredible karstic caves.
It is very easy to reach the caves: walking along the itinerary you will get to a crossroads where a signal will give you the directions for the narrow paths leaving from the main road to get to the first cave. The trail is steep and goes downhill, so you'd better rely on the wooden protections on the side of the road. Now you will reach the entrances of the caves: majestic natural caverns made out of crumbly and porous stones safeguard a piece of the human history on their insides. There are indeed many ancient pebbles with incisions whose meaning keeps being a mistery.
Go back to the main road and you will find some areas with benches and picnic tables. Here you can stop, rest and admire the wonderful landscape in front of you. Now continue on your way to Novaglie and enjoy a walk around its little harbour. From here starts the way to come back to the beginning of this itinerary. Go through the olive groves and notice the typical walls, buildings "a secco" and the "pajare". These are incredible buildings like trullos that were used by the ancient farmers as temporary shelters.
Go towards Gagliano del Capo and, after having walked on a paved road between the olive groves, follow a dirt road that will lead you to the beginning of the Ciolo path. This part is easier than the first one because it is mainly covered by a wooden gangway. Walk under the high walls of the inlet, where you can see the nests of the magpies, which are called "ciole" in the local dialect, giving the name to the itinerary. Continue until you finally arrive at the little beach where you can rest and find some refreshment. On its side you can also find the stairway to the paved road on the coast, letting you walk on the famous bridge crossing the inlet. From here, about 30 m height, many brave divers dive into the wonderful blue sea.
Cover photo: photo via Wikipedia
Porto Cesareo (Apulia)