Santa Cesarea Terme
|Santa Cesarea Terme|
|Comune di Santa Cesarea Terme|
Santa Cesarea Terme bay
|Frazioni||Cerfignano, Porto Miggiano, Vitigliano|
|• Total||26 km2 (10 sq mi)|
|Elevation||56 m (184 ft)|
|Population (30 November 2008)|
|• Density||120/km2 (310/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Patron saint||Santa Cesarea|
|Saint day||12 September|
Situated on the coast at the beginning of the Otranto canal on a terrace of the coast which comes down to the sea, the town of Santa Cesarea is one of the most important centres of care of Salento. The exploitation of the waters, coming from four caves, dates back to 1500 and on these caves is based the economy of the whole town with the constitution of different thermal establishments equipped for the caring of the baths and the muds with the possibility of other therapies.
An ancient local legend claims that the area got its name because a young woman called Cisaria fled from her abusive father and hiding in one of the many grottos, lost her life when she slipped and fell into the hot waters below, an alternative version of the legend claims that it was the pursuing father who slipped and died.
A relatively new town, its development on a rocky coastline, riddled with underground caverns and fissured rock strata was encouraged by the presence of hot natural springs. These hot mineral springs, with thermal waters rich in iodine, sulphurs and sodium chloride, rising up through the porous bedrock of the area from deep underground, have formed a network of aquifers that puncture the underlying rock strata before draining through cave systems into the cold salty waters of the Adriatic Sea.
The most significant of these sulphurous grottos are the four cisterns of Feidida, Solfurea, Gattula and Solfatura whose endless waters at different temperature ranges have encouraged the towns development into a renowned Spa, and today, its range of thermal baths support an important health centre bringing tourists and visitors from all over Italy and further beyond.
Known throughout early history, it was only in the 1700s that upper class citizens and the local aristocracy started to build residences here for holidaying whilst indulging in the health giving waters of the mineral springs.
Over the years magnificent Villas, Palazzos and extravagant summer residences extended the town, and elegant avenues connected them whilst the towns heart developed with fashionable hotels and accommodations for visitors from further afield.
Some of the more indulgent residences were designed and constructed in extravagant styles such as Palazzo Sticchi, hanging from the cliff face and whose Moorish architecture impresses all who see it, and Villa Raffaella now converted to luxurious apartments.
Today the town is a tourist destination, with the seafront promenades thronged with cafes and small shops, pizzerias and restaurants, where it is possible to sip coffee or dine al-fresco on the outside terraces with views to the sea just 100 metres (330 ft) away.
The thermal baths are open from May through till November, and nowadays the waters are regulated at a temperature of less than 40 °C (104 °F) as indicated for therapeutic usage. The various hot mud and mineral treatments combat arthritic and rheumatoid problems, as well as respiratory, dermatological, trauma and stress ailments. They are also recommended for general well being and beauty treatments.
Behind the town, the scenery comprises low rolling hill, interspersed with long rocky outcrops covered with low Mediterranean shrubland, comprising grassland and scrub, tangy with the smell of wild herbs whilst in springtime and early summer a riot of colour from the wild flowers carpets the area.
The landscape disintegrates into a rocky litoranea tumbling into the sea and stretching away to the north and south in a fractured coastline, with deep blue water foaming at the lands edge, whilst small sandy coves such as Porto Miggiano break up the rocky coastal ridges that are woven with half submerged caverns and grottoes.
- Population from ISTAT
- (Italian) Guida Turistica di Santa Cesarea Terme
- (Italian) Santa Cesarea Terme Guide
- Pronounce Santa Cesarea: