Santa Cesarea Terme

Updated at: 09-07-2024

Santa Cesarea Terme

Santa Cesarea Terme is a charming town located on the eastern coast of Salento, in Puglia.

This small municipality is known for its thermal waters, hidden coves, natural beauty, and fascinating historical architecture.

As experienced travelers and enthusiasts of enchanting places in Puglia, we have thoroughly explored Santa Cesarea Terme and are excited to share our experience.

Santa Cesarea Terme is within the Regional Natural Park Costa Otranto - Santa Maria di Leuca. The area is characterized by green hills descending towards white cliffs that plunge into the sea.

One of the most beautiful coves is Baia di Porto Miggiano, a small paradise with a golden sandy beach and a dreamy sea, ideal for those seeking tranquility and natural beauty.

The Thermal Baths of Santa Cesarea

The heart of Santa Cesarea Terme is its thermal waters.

The natural springs flow from the caves along the coast, including Grotta Gattulla, Grotta Fetida, Grotta Solfurea, and Grotta Solfatara. These waters are rich in sulfur, iodine, and mineral salts, and have been used for therapeutic treatments since the 16th century.

The thermal waters, with a temperature of about 30°C, are known for their benefits on various health conditions, including rheumatic, dermatological, and respiratory diseases.

The thermal baths of Santa Cesarea are open from May to November and offer a wide range of treatments tailored to the needs of every visitor.

The Main Thermal Caves

Santa Cesarea Terme is famous for its four main thermal caves: Grotta Gattulla, Grotta Fetida, Grotta Solfurea, and Grotta Solfatara. Each of these caves has unique characteristics that contribute to the therapeutic properties of the waters.

Visiting the caves of Santa Cesarea Terme is a unique experience that combines physical well-being with the discovery of a fascinating natural environment. The caves are accessible through guided tours that allow visitors to explore these geological wonders safely.

Many thermal centers offer packages that include treatments in the caves, allowing full use of the healing properties of the waters.

Grotta Gattulla:

This cave is known for its sulfurous waters that spring at a constant temperature of about 30°C. The waters of Grotta Gattulla are particularly indicated for dermatological treatments and improving blood circulation.

Grotta Fetida:

The name of this cave comes from the characteristic smell of its waters, due to the high concentration of sulfur. According to local legend, the cave was named because the father of the Virgin Cesaria died there in flames, miraculously saving his daughter.

The waters of Grotta Fetida are appreciated for their benefits in treating rheumatic and respiratory diseases.

Grotta Solfurea:

As the name suggests, this cave is characterized by sulfur-rich waters, used in various therapies for their anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties.

Grotta Solfatara:

This cave offers thermal waters with a unique combination of minerals, including bromine and iodine, making them particularly effective in treating skin and respiratory conditions.

What to do in Santa Cesarea Terme

Recreational Activities

There are numerous recreational activities available to visitors in Santa Cesarea Terme.

Boat trips are particularly popular, allowing you to explore the sea caves and admire the coast from a unique perspective.

Snorkeling and diving are also highly recommended, thanks to the clear waters and rich marine life.

Besides natural beauty and thermal baths, Santa Cesarea Terme offers the chance to visit the Chiesa Madre del Sacro Cuore, built in the 14th century and rebuilt in the 20th century.

This is an important historical and religious site. Inside, you can admire the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a precious papier-mâché statue of the Virgin Santa Cesarea.

Gastronomic Experiences

Puglian cuisine is renowned for its simplicity and goodness, and Santa Cesarea Terme is no exception.

Local restaurants offer a variety of traditional dishes, including orecchiette with turnip tops, fresh fish, and seafood.

During our stay, we had the pleasure of dining at several restaurants and were impressed by the quality of the food and the warm hospitality. A typical meal at a local restaurant can be an unforgettable culinary experience, enriched by the authentic flavors of Puglia.

Excursions in the Surroundings

Santa Cesarea Terme is also a great starting point to explore other fascinating Puglian destinations. A few kilometers away is Otranto, one of the most beautiful cities in Puglia, famous for its Aragonese castle and cathedral with its mosaic floor.

The nearby town of Castro is also worth a visit, with its Zinzulusa Cave, one of the most beautiful caves in Salento.

Just ten minutes away by car is Porto Badisco, a small seaside resort famous for the Grotta dei Cervi, a prehistoric cave with rock paintings. Although the cave is not open to the public, Porto Badisco is ideal for snorkeling and diving.

Travel Tips

Visiting Santa Cesarea Terme is an experience we highly recommend. It is important to plan your trip according to the seasons: summer is perfect for enjoying the sea and thermal baths, but spring and autumn also offer pleasant weather and fewer crowds.

For a complete experience, we suggest staying in one of the town's historic hotels, which offer modern comforts and an authentic atmosphere.

A Dive into History

Santa Cesarea Terme has ancient roots, dating back to the times of the Greeks and Romans. However, the town began to develop as a thermal spa in the 19th century, when the aristocracy and high society from nearby cities, such as Lecce, started building their summer residences here, attracted by the healing properties of the sulfurous waters.

Among the most fascinating architectural structures are Palazzo Sticchi, a magnificent example of Moorish architecture, and Villa Raffaella, built by Baroness Raffaella Lubelli.

Villa Sticchi

During our travels through the wonders of Puglia, we had the pleasure of visiting Villa Sticchi, a structure that perfectly embodies the eclectic architecture of the 19th century. Located in Santa Cesarea Terme, this villa is a true historical and cultural gem.

Architectural Features

Villa Sticchi was designed by architect Giuseppe Ruggeri for Baron Giulio Luigi Sticchi. The villa surprises with its Moorish influences, visible in its onion domes and horseshoe arches. These elements, along with elaborate decorative details, make the villa a unique example of architectural fusion.

One of the most fascinating features of Villa Sticchi is its panoramic position. Situated on a cliff, it offers a spectacular view of the Adriatic Sea, making every visit a memorable visual experience.

The villa is surrounded by an atmosphere that seems suspended in time, a place where history and natural beauty meet.

Its unique architecture and fascinating history make it a place of great interest and value. Visiting it is like taking a step back in time to an era where elegance and architectural art reached new heights.

Is it possible to visit Villa Sticchi?

Currently, Villa Sticchi is a private property and is not open to the public for internal visits.

Although it is not possible to access the interior, the exterior offers ample opportunities to appreciate its architecture and take memorable photographs.

Nevertheless, its majestic presence continues to be a significant point of interest for those visiting Santa Cesarea Terme.

The villa is a living testament to local history and the thermal tourism that has characterized this region since the late 19th century.

We highly recommend including a visit to Villa Sticchi in your itinerary to fully understand the cultural heritage of Santa Cesarea Terme.

Villa Raffaella

Villa Raffaella

We also visited Villa Raffaella, an architectural gem located in this town. This villa is a symbol of historical elegance, perfectly preserved and set in a breathtaking natural context.

Architectural Features

Villa Raffaella was built in the late 19th century and represents a magnificent example of eclectic architecture. The structure is distinguished by its large panoramic terraces, arched windows, and intricate decorations adorning the facades.

Inside, the villa retains historical details such as frescoed ceilings and original floors, transporting visitors back in time.

Beauty and Location

One of the most fascinating aspects of Villa Raffaella is its elevated position, offering a spectacular view of the Adriatic Sea.

The tranquility of the place, combined with the beauty of the surrounding landscape, creates an atmosphere of peace and relaxation. Visitors can enjoy unforgettable sunsets and a panoramic view that extends to the horizon.

Is it possible to visit Villa Raffaella?

Currently, Villa Raffaella operates as an accommodation facility, allowing visitors to stay in an environment that combines history and modernity.

The villa has been carefully restored to preserve its original charm while offering modern comforts. It is the ideal place for those seeking a relaxing getaway and wanting to immerse themselves in the history and culture of Santa Cesarea Terme.

During our stay, we were impressed by the elegance and care with which the villa has been maintained.

Every corner reflects an attention to detail that makes the stay a unique experience. The staff, friendly and professional, adds an extra touch of excellence, making every guest feel at home.


Santa Cesarea Terme is a destination that offers something for everyone: rejuvenating thermal baths, natural beauty, gastronomic experiences, and cultural attractions.

Whether you are seeking relaxation, adventure, or a dive into history, this charming Puglian town will surely captivate you. Our experience in Santa Cesarea Terme was unforgettable, and we look forward to returning to discover even more of this paradise in the heart of Puglia.