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One of the most magical beach moments I’ve had in Italy wasn’t at a beach at all. It was on a cliff, poised above the aquamarine water of the Grotta della Poesia in Puglia.
The so-called “Cave of Poetry” is a not-so-secret secret summer destination in the Salento peninsula, the southernmost part of Puglia and the heel of Italy’s boot. It is a roadside oasis, an instant adventure, and it’s free.
More than just a natural swimming pool, the Grotta della Poesia has several other high and low cliffs for jumping and diving as well as caves that you can swim through.
While these photos (all my own) show a lot of people poised on the cliff’s edge, the atmosphere at the grotto never felt overcrowded. It was definitely popular with a younger crowd, but there were families and kids. My in-laws, who are from Puglia but never learned how to swim, didn’t love the Grotta della Poesia as much as I did. But they did enjoy the views.
Grotta della Poesia Travel Tips
If you go, I recommend a pair of water shoes. I know it sounds dorky, but they are helpful for walking on the hot, craggy surfaces of the cliff as well as navigating the slippery stone stairs that lead out of the grotto.
I also recommend visiting the Grotta della Poesia with friends or family, not only for companionship but also in case you have an accident. Note that there is no lifeguard here, so swimming and jumping is at your own risk. Going with someone else can also allow you to take turns tending to your stuff. I did not feel that this was a high-theft area, but you never know these days, in Italy or anywhere.