Last Sunday morning, our destination was the majestic Ciolo inlet: 30 meters above the sea level, a precious case, which represents an amazing study of the Upper Paleolithic, and its bridge, a modern architecture and outstretched view in front of the Ionian Sea, in the regional natural park ‘Costa Otranto-Santa Maria di Leuca and Bosco di Tricase’, in the deep South of Apulia. From Santa Maria di Leuca, it takes only few minutes of driving to get there. The promise for nice mild weather was fulfilled. Totò, our eco-guide from ‘Avanguardie’, introduced the ‘Cipolliane’ route and, all of us, a quite large number of people, already were looking forward the pleasure of the exploration. The first part of the trekking was by the sea.
The eyes in direction of the horizon, toward distant lands: only the sea and the white smooth rocks could tell, in the long course of million years, the transit of creatures, human beings and goods by whatever transport was available. Indeed, our feet were travelling all over history and prehistory standing on a coral reef where it was possible to notice, for example, traces of minerals like glauconite, sedimentary deposits of corals and their shelves, etc. Just for a moment, we had the awareness of a quick glance coming from the sea and it was not far from where we were. We distinctly heard a splash in the water and when we tried to follow with the sight, ‘something’ had already provoked a whirlpool that spread out in concentric rings on the surface, while a tail, followed by foam and bubbles, was disappearing underwater with swiftness. Totò explained us that once the place was home for the Mediterranean monk seal and, because of the presence of the human being, nowadays, it is more rare for this specimen to live by the coast. Anyway, as it is reported by local news, it seems that recently the monk seal has been seen again and again in the area. If it is true, the choice to rebuild its own natural habitat there should be respected letting this specimen to live in tranquillity.
Following a narrow winding path, we then reached what it could be defined as an amazing work of art sculpted by the hand of nature, a grotto that invited to contemplation, about 10 meters above the sea level: it could remind of a natural cathedral and its motherly arms in order to show us all its mysterious beauty.
Our trekking adventure went on through well preserved terraces used for the cultivation of olive groves and, in the end, we followed a path along an ancient canyon rich of vegetation that took us up on the hill first and again to the bridge in front of the sea.
Many thanks and compliments to ‘Avanguardie’ for the splendid excursion they designed for us.