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January - February - March - April - May - June
July - August - September - October - November - December
Each season is the best!
We can easily say that you can come to Salento whenever you want, thanks to our mild climate. Salento has a Mediterranean climate and the influence from the Mediteranean sea grants us, even in winter, a great supply of heat. Anyway the seasons here, though apparently similar to the other areas of Southern Italy, have their own peculiarities.

In Spring the climate is mild, the weather is always sunny and rarely rainy. You can wear light dresses and comfortable shoes to visit the mediteranean bush (characterized by strong and fragrant undershrubs, such as myrtle and rosemary).

In Summer the weather is warm and dry and you can spend long hours along the coast, on the white beaches or the high cliffs. You can wear typical summer clothes and, of course, we suggest you to use a hat, sunglasses and protective creams. In the evenings there may be some misture and so you should better put on a cotton sweater.

Autumn shows colours varying from light green to dark brown. It rarely rains and the mild temperature allow the tourists to spend some pleasant days outdoors. Certainly in this season you will wear warmer clothes than in summer, but a pullover and a raincoat are enough.

Winter is rather short and not so cold. It rarely snows, therefore you can leave your fur coats at home and wear padded jackets. The coldest months are January and February, but indeed the temperature is always about 8 – 10 degrees.

When is the “Focara”?
It is celebrated in Novoli, on 16th and 17th January, in honour of the Saint patron, St. Antonio.
It is a bonfire, more than 25 mt. high, made of newly pruned vine-shoots, on which religious symbols are placed. A suggestive moment is when the bonfire is lit with fireworks at about 8.00 in the evening.
In Salento fire is often present during religious rituals because it is a symbol of rebirth and purification.
The making of the bonfire begins a long time before and several people take part to make this enormous wooden volcano, forming human chains to settle down the bundles of wood and hangings on the top.
Every year thousands of people come and see the lighting, a wonderful framework of colours and lights. It lasts all night and goes out on the following day.
Want to know more? Visit the official website

Other events in January: The "Befana" - The "Sagra della Pestanaca" in Tiggiano - The "San Sebastiano" feast in Galatone - The "Sant'Antonio" feast in Monteroni
When is the Carnival in Gallipoli?
Carnival is one of the most important events in Gallipoli (and in Salento) and every year, since 1954, it has been celebrated in a sparkling way.
Everything starts on 17th January with the so called “focareddha” (a heap of firewood): people pick up little olive branches” and sing and dance pizzica around the “focareddha. This ritual goes back to pre-christian beliefs in the propitiatory power of fire.
During Carnival time groups of masked people run around the main streets throwing confetti and playing each other jokes, while the jugglers entertain people with their wits.
The most typical mask is “lu Tidoru”; he was a soldier who had came back to his town for Carnival. As his family used to eat very much in this period (before the Lent time), one day he ate so much meat that he choked and died. Still today people of Gallipoli dedicate to this tragic episode one of the allegorical chariots ( the Hearse, indeed) which parade along the streets.
The parade is full of merriment and joy while thousands of people watch it at the street corners, plunged in a blaze of colours and emotions.

Other events in February: The Carnival in Aradeo - The "Candelora" in Martano - The "Sant'Antonio" feast in Cutofiano - The "San Gregorio" feast in Nardò - The "San Giorgio" feast in Matino
When are the "Tavole di S. Giuseppe"? (tables of St. Joseph)
This festival is held on 19th March in lots of towns such as: Maglie, Giurdignano, Uggiano, Otranto, Diso, Minervino, Poggiardo. In the main square or in their houses people set tables for pilgrims, friends or relatives, offering them something to eat as a gesture of friendship and welcome.
In ancient times it was a form of charity to poor people; slowly the festival has gained other meanings: for example, a legend says that people lay the table to keep a vow to the Saint.
The way the table is set is different from town to town, but the number of dishes and their typology never changes (always an odd number, generally thirteen); the tables always seem to be like little altars; in fact the women for this occasion use the most beautiful and embroidered tablecloth, put flowers on the tables and other ornaments in the house.
In Giurdignano, for example, there is a great folk feast in the main square, where a very long table is set; on it lots of delicious dishes are placed. Every table shows the image or a statue of the Saint.
The main course is the so-called “massa of St. Giuseppe”: it consists of hand-made pasta cut into stripes that women prepare with durum wheat. They cook it in large pans, mix with “mugnuli” (little cabbage) and pour into big terrracotta bowls together with chickpeas, previously cooked in the “pignate” (typical bowls of Salento). They generally fry some of this pasta and when it gets dark add it to the rest and mix all with some oil. It is worthy to try!
Other traditional dishes of this feast are: pasta with honey and crumb, fried or roasted fish, “pampasciuni” (a kind of sour onion), stewed stockfish, fried cawliflowers, wine, oil, and the big votive loaves shaped like big rings.

Other events in March: The "Canti di Passione" in Grecìa Salentina - The "Sagra delle Zeppole" in Nardò - The "Madonna di Loreto" feast in Surbo - The Horse Fair in Noha
When are the rituals of the Holy Week in Gallipoli?
These rituals are held every Easter in the old part of the town of Gallipoli.
You will breath a mystic atmosphere, especially on Holy Thursday. On this day all religious confraternities carry out the tradition of the processions, each with its colours and religious symbols, like the craft-guilds did in ancient times.
On Holy Thursday evening each confraternity (and people too) visit the churches and adore Eucharistic Jesus; this ritual bears the name of “Sepolcri”, but actually people do not go and pray before the Dead Christ, it is rather the celebration of the Last Supper, when Holy Communion was begun.
On Good Friday, in the late afternoon, after Jesus Christ’s death, the confraternities carry on processions statues representing religious scenes, called “Misteri(misteries); this is a very long procession that lasts till the following dawn. What is wonderful about it is the complete silence interrupted just by the rhythmical sound of the “troccola” (a wooden instrument with a shrill sound), the lights of the streets lamps and the sudden sound of trumpet (sounding like the Virgin’s cry). At dawn the statues and the confraternities come back into their churches.
Another procession starts on Holy Saturday: the mourning Lady of the Sorrows is carried around from the “Chiesa della purità” along the ramparts, while following a golden coffin with a statue of Dead Christ inside. From the ramparts a priest blesses the whole town.
If you do not see these rituals personally, you will never understand their beauty.

Other events in April: The "Maria Ss. Annunziata" feast in Tuglie - The "San Giorgio" feast in Melpignano - The Whistle Fair in Lecce - The "Ss. Filippo e Giacomo" feast in Diso - The "Ss. Crocifisso" feast in Galatone
When is the "Festa de lu Masciu" in Sannicola?
The “Festa de lu Masciu” is a spring feast held in May, during the second and third week.
Its origins go back to the Middle Ages when, on the 1st May, a crowd of farmers, artisans and merchants came here to exhibit their agricultural products, cattle and handmade articles. On that occasion the sweethearts gave each other gifts.
Today the most characteristic moment is represented by the parties in the open air in the area around Gallipoli and Sannicola. It is considered a propitiatory rite to invoke fertility and prosperity for the fields. Boys and girls, wearing costumes of the 17th century, gather in the main square on barrons finely adorned with flowers and fruit and pulled by horses; here they exchange flowers and promises of love. Then there are performances with flag-wavers, buskers and musicians who proceed up to the mild hill where there is the convent of St. Mauro; here, in the past, the monks organized a funny fair. Near the little church people dance and eat typical food.
Other events in May: The "Sagra della Puccia" in Villa Convento - The "San Nicola" feast in Aradeo - The "San Giovanni Elemosiniere" feast in Casarano - The "Cortili Aperti" (open courtyards and palaces) in Lecce - The "Cantine Aperte" wine festival - The "Madonna della Coltura" feast in Parabita
When is the ritual of the coloured paper lamps in Calimera?
It is held on 21st June. It goes back to the greek-byzantine period and is on the same day as the Summer solstice, the day of the maximum daylight. People make lamps using coloured papers and reeds shaping them like stars, ships, aeroplanes or horses. They generally use things that they find at home; if they do not have enough things, they ask the neighbours to give them some coins to buy the necessary objects. At night the paper lamps are hung along the streets and lit up, among a charming game of colours and shapes. It goes on for two days, during which people organize several gastronomic and cultural events. After the festival they put together all the lamps and lit a purifying bonfire.
Other events in June: The "Premio Barocco" in Lecce - The "San Giovanni" fair in Zollino - The "San Pietro e Paolo" feast in Galatina - The "San Sebastiano" feast in Racale
When are Santa Cristina’s celebrations in Gallipoli?
EliofiloThis is one of the best and most spectacular feasts in Salento. The celebrations last from 23rd to 25th July and remember when the Saint saved the town from cholera in 1867. To the Saint’s honour, who had suffered so many tortures in her life, people built a little chapel where there is a statue of papier-mâché portraying the Saint tied to a pole (this remember when the Saint was tied to a pole and whipped by twelve men for many hours; in the end they were exhausted while she survived). During these three days there are several events: bands play from morning to late evening in the old part of the town, the statue of the Saint is carried through the streets, but the most fabulous show is the traditional “climbing the greasy pole” in the sea; at midnight on the third day you cannot miss the fireworks!
There is an odness about this feast: in these days people who live in Gallipoli do not go to the beach. This strange habit dates back to 1807 when a child (11 years old) died in the sea just on the day dedicated to the Saint.
Other events in July: The "Santa Domenica" feast in Scorrano - The "Sagra dell'Insalata Grika" in Martignano - The "Sagra de lu Ranu" in Merine - The "Agorà" in Martano - The "Madonna del Carmine" feast in Tuglie
When is the fishermen’s festival in Castro?
This festival is held in Castro on 12th August in honour of the Madonna del Rosario. Fishermen are devoted to the Virgin who, according to the tradition, in 1896 had saved them during a storm and had let them go back into the little port of Castro. Since then, every year, a Mass has been offered; then people take the Virgin on a procession on the boats to the Zinzulusa cave. The fireworks display is the most beautiful moment because the lights reflect upon the green water creating a wonderful scenery. After the religious procession, people eat sea specialities, such as fried fish and mussels.
When is the “sword dance” in honour of St. Rocco in Torrepaduli?
It is a very suggestive event. Torrepaduli is a little village, near Ruffano; here, on the night from 15th to 16th August people dance the “pizzica” and the famous “sword dance” at the sound of tambourines.
DenisbenatiThe festival is in front of the church dedicated to St. Rocco. Torrepaduli has been visited by pilgrims for a long time; they come here even on foot from towns nearby and sleep on the steps in front of the church waiting for the first Mass, at dawn. The origin of this spontaneous music and dance lies just in this long time that people pass here until dawn. In fact when the church is closed (after sunset, on 15th) you can hear the first sounds of tambourines and the longest summer night begins.
It is like a big meeting where lots of people arrange themselves in circles (called “ronde”) making room for dancers and musicians. The so-called “sword dance” takes its origin from gipsies; dancers make this dance haughty and elegant and move their fingers like knives, respecting precise rules while dancing, going into the circle in the right moment and giving way to old people who preserve above all the originality of movements: for example they never turn their back on each other and only two dancers at a time stay in the middle. If you want to go to this fiesta you had better to arrive in the early afternoon to avoid the traffic of cars and people on the main road to the Sanctuary.

When is the Patron Saint festival in Otranto?
It is from 13th to 15th August and commemorates the death of 800 martyrs in 1480, when the town was attacked by the Turks.
Most of them were simple people, fishermen, artisans and farmers. They refused to abjure their Christian faith before Achmet Pascia and were beheaded on the Minerva hill.
On 14th August a little part of their remains (all of them are kept in the Cathedral) symbolically are carried on procession through the streets.
Along the streets there are coloured street lights, stalls selling a great variety of things and music, but the most exciting moment are the fireworks shot up from the sea, which create a wonderful mix of colours. You can admire them standing on the ramparts.
When is the “Notte della Taranta”?
It has been held in Melpignano since 1998, always in the second half of August, in the square before the Agostinian convent, where thousands of people from all over Italy (and even Europe) come and see the big concert during which people sing, play and dance “pizzica”, this new dance that is the highest expression of “Salentinità”, in all its ardour and passion.
Several rock stars have appreciated this music, such as Stewart Copeland of the Police, Noa, Nabil Salameh, Gianna Nannini, Franco Battiato, Francesco De Gregori and Piero Pelù.
This event has become very important for our musical culture; the big concert of Melpignano is only the last one and the climax of a series of concerts starting from the second week of August in various towns. It emphasizes the importance that folk music has achieved in our territory where it is seen like a liberating outburst.
From the experience of Melpignano the popular Orchestra of the “Notte della Taranta” was born, at least 5 bands play and dance at the Taranta rythm in the squares. Several young boys and girls too take part in these bands, in fact the 2004 edition was opened by the powerful voice of Alessia Tondo, only 12 years old, who collaborated also with the Sud Sound System in “Le radici ca tieni”.
Among the bands there are: Arakne Mediterrranea, Aramirè, Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino, Ghetonia, Mascarimirì, Menamenamò, Officina Zoe, Salentorkestra, Uccio Aloisi Gruppu, Xanti Yaca. Want to know more?

When is the Patron Saint festival in honour of St. Oronzo in Lecce?
It lasts three days, from 24th to 26th August; it is dedicated to St. Oronzo, St. Giusto and St. Fortunato, but the Saint patron of Lecce is St. Oronzo. Oronzo lived in Rudiae, now Lecce.
GojcaFortunato was his nephew; they both received baptism from Giusto who had been sent by St. Paolo to Rome to take some apostolic letters. Oronzo and Giusto began to preach the new faith but were denounced by the pagan priests. As they refused to offer incense to Jupiter in his temple, they were condamned to be whipped and put to prison. When he was free, St Paolo appointed him bishop of Lecce and Fortunato after him. But other problems arrived; in fact Emperor Nerone sent them to prison again because he wanted them to abjure the Christian faith. In the end, after long persecutions, they were taken three km. out of Lecce, on 26th August, and were beheaded. On the place of his death a church was erected, the church of “St. Oronzo fuori le Mura”. The feast in his honour dates back to the 16th century, but for a long time the tradition was stopped. Then he saved the town from a terrible plague, in 1656, and since then people have dedicated to him these three days of events, both religious and funny. On these days, people from other towns come to Lecce, visit the stalls and buy a great variety of things, or they listen to musical bands who play in every corner of the town. In the late afternoon on 24th a long procession goes through the town carrying the statues of the Saints while the crowd stand and pray along the streets. Both the Bishop of Lecce and the political and religious authorities take part. Finally there are the fireworks on the night of 26th.

Other events in August: The "Mercatino del Gusto" in Maglie - The "Sagra te lu Purpu" in Melendugno - The "Locomotive Jazz Festival" in Sogliano Cavour - The "Calici di Stelle" wine festival in Lecce - The "Madonna di Leuca" feast in S. Maria di Leuca - The "Santa Cesarea" feast in Porto Cesareo
When is the “Festa de lu mieru” in Carpignano?
It has ancient origins and is held during the first weekend of September.
It started in 1974 when a theatrical company from Denmark (the Odin Teatret) came here on retreat for a training tour, searching for the deepest folk traditions of Salento. During the meetings and seminars the company knew the local music and dance. While drinking wine (which they considered a magical drink!) the players gathered in the square and danced “taranta”, freeing their own bodies and spirits (this is the real meaning of the feast). Slowly people from Carpignano appreciated such outburst of theatre and music in the street and decided to organize a country feast with music, dances and gastronomic tastings. All this lasts 3-4 days and at the end a commitee gives a price to the best wine of the year while people eat dishes which can be well tried with wine: peppers, horse meat with sauce, hot chilli pepper oil and “lacciu” (that is celery), dipped into wine. The first name of the feast was “Lu Patrunu”, from a funny pastime used by men when they met friends and drank wine in large quantity. Then it was given the name of “Festa de lu mieru” and now it has become an important event without any religious meaning; it is also the occasion for exhibitions of local painting, folk civilization and craftsmanship.

Other events in September: The "Cappeddha" fair in Taviano - The "Sagra te la Fucazza" in Lequile - The "Santa Cesarea" feast in Santa Cesarea Terme - The "Jazz & Wine Festival" in Salice Salentino - The "S. Giuseppe da Copertino" feast in Copertino
When is the “Festa de lu porcu” (the feast of pork) in Muro Leccese?
During the feast (20th -21st October) roast pork is served in large quantities. In the past, in October, people visited several feasts in order to take in provisions for winter. Those who came here on the day before, used to camp for the night, cooked a pork in the square to eat and warm themselves. They now cook the meat in different ways: boiled, roasted or with sauce. It is the occasion to taste local specialities while in the morning there is the traditional fair and in the afternoon the “climbing the greasy pole”.

When is the “Fiera of St. Vito” in Ortelle?
It’s from 25th to 28th October. It is linked to the one in Muro Leccese; people sell meat in the park of St. Vito while thousands of men and women taste the best pieces of pork. This is one of the oldest fairs in the south of Italy, in fact it dates back to the 16th century. During it they serve pork from the local rearings.

Other events in October: The "Sagra dei Paniri te Site" in Palmariggi - The "Madonna della Mercede" feast in Campi Salentina - The "Sagra te la Volia Cazzata" in Martano - The "Ss. Medici Cosma e Damiano" feast in Veglie
When is the “Vino Novello” festival in Leverano?
“Novello” is the name given to the new wine, a very light one. It is held in Leverano during the first week of November, in the area where wine production has a great importance, in the suggestive historical centre of the town, near the high tower that, during Federico II’s reign, protected the village. There are costume parades (people dress as knights, ladies and pages) while buskers and bands liven up the streets. Typical dishes and products are served in stalls or in restaurants, but you cannot miss the wine drinking competition (with the funnel hanging from the drinkers’ necks). It is also the occasion for cultural meetings on wine productions, oenology and wines in Salento.

Other events in November: The Great "San Martino" feast all over the territory - The "Sagra della Castagna" in Ruffano - The "Santa Caterina" fair in Galatina - The Bread and Olive Oil Festival - The "Sant'Andrea" feast in Presicce
When is the Exhibition of Cribs in Lecce
It’s from 8th to 24th December. It is generally set in the ex convent of the Teatini (on the first floor). Here you can admire beautiful cribs of papier-mâché and terracotta, very realistic in the details; moreover you can buy the so called “pupi” for your domestic cribs, made by the artisans who show their objects here. It is a brilliance of colours and lights; the works are carefully made, especially those showing scenes of domestic life. Really you will come back to the times when Jesus was born.
When is the “Fire Festival” in Zollino?
It embodies symbols, messages and metaphors of people who still believe in old traditions and the meaning of fire. It was started in 1978 by Giovanni Pellegrino, a funny citizen of Zollino, who wanted to keep alive some old traditions, such as the habit of putting small bonfires, the so called “focareddhe”, on the street corners during winter evenings. This festival has no religious meaning but since then it has become a grat folk event, on 27th and 28th December, with a high bonfire, lit up together with the emigrants come back home for Christmas time. Music, dance, buskers, typical dishes liven up these magical evenings; it has also a cultural side because people play a comedy, “Il processo alla striara”, recalling the witch hunt in the Middle Ages. The “striara” in fact is the dialect name for witches, for women who turn into cats on the full moon nights and dance on the beach.

Other events in December: The "Santa Lucia" fair in Scorrano - The "Sagra della Pittula" in Specchia, Surano, Tiggiano - Beautiful and evocative living and artistic Nativity Scenes all over the territory

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