Tuesday 26 July 2011

Castro, Puglia, Italy

With a charming historic heart high above a more prosaic marina down below, Castro is essentially two very small seaside towns. You can park on one of the narrow roads leading to the picturesque pedestrianised square that acts as the gateway to old Castro. Overlooked by the sombre castle that dominates the town, the square has a laid-back, good-value bar and public benches with far-reaching views over the sea and the resort of Santa Cesarea Terme embedded into the hilly shoreline to the north. Some atmospheric side streets, lined by restrained craft shops, lead down to another fine square with a handsome church, elegant town houses and distinguished four-armed period lamp-posts. It is also worth hunting out a paved vantage point, abutting the castle walls, from where you can survey Castro Marina and the coastline running south.

Dozens of small boats
A couple of paths lead down to Castro Marina, which doesn't have a sandy beach. Even so, in the summer, scores of would-be sunworshippers tend to hang out on the white piers, white rocks and white stone ballasts. Some steps and railings have been installed to help bathers in and out of the sea. The dozens of small boats in the actual marina are sheltered by an impressively high stone wall, propping up the villas above. 7/10