In Puglia's sun-washed Salento just a couple of miles from the sea, Alliste basks becomingly on a rise. The town bears the marks of the various peoples who came through: Greek, Arab, Spanish. You'll find twinges of Baroque among the characteristic white buildings, bedecked with balustrades and balconies. It is a blend of influences that recall Greek islands and Moroccan kasbahs with Puglian flair and hospitality.
The area has certainly been inhabited since prehistoric times, as demonstrated by the presence of menhir and sacred grottoes that were dedicated to the gods. The Greeks came and settled the entire zone, giving the town its name. Kalliste was an Aegean isle named for a nymph (now the island of Santorini). There is a colorful legend, though, that says the name came from the Italian word "ali" meaning "wings" because Alliste was a place of refuge for inhabitants from Felline who fled after the Saracens attacked and put that town to flames. Either way, Alliste has an ancient past and a medieval history.
The town is a pleasant place with services, shops, cafes and restaurants, along with some pretty churches, nice piazzas and friendly atmosphere. It includes the frazione of Felline and the coastal villages of Capilungo and Posto Rosso under its jurisdiction. The main church is dedicated to San Quintino and dates to 1435 though it was redone in 1872. The patron festival is a major holiday for Alliste, a 3-day fete with massive festive arbors of lights, bands, processions, concerts and of course food, starting October 30. The Madonna dell'Alto Mare is a 10th century chapel on the highest point in the area outside town. There is an annual pilgrimage walk. Il Canto Delle Cicale (the song of the cicadas) is an annual event that highlights the kaleidoscope of colors, flavors, languages, arts and music from around the Mediterranean countries to celebrate the common traits and cultural beauty of each.
Just a few miles away is the historic hamlet of Felline, with a pretty old town to explore that oozes Old World charm. Enjoy a stroll through old town and admire the baron's palace, called the castello. The coast of Alliste is a lengthy natural shoreline undisturbed by over-development, where you will find miles of easily accessible waterfront. While there aren't many sandy beaches here, the low rocks are easy to navigate and give way to the crystal-clear water without the interruption of managed beaches filled with legions of umbrellas. Instead, you will find the shore covered in native brush and populated by families out enjoying the sun and sea.
Explore nearby towns
The town of Racale is in Puglia's Salento region, just six kilometers from the Ionian Sea and yet overlooked by many travelers, which is a shame.
Melissano is a agrarian town in southern Puglia, just inland a few miles from the Ionian Sea.
Situated in Puglia's sun-drenched Salento, Taviano is a town of 12,300 people near Gallipoli.
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