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December 17, 2020 · IN THE DISCOVER LEUCA

Our cities, our villages, the places where we live, still have many remnants of the Fascist period led by Mussolini. We naturally speak of architectural aspects and related to infrastructures, certainly not of cultural or political aftermath. Even in the famous Santa Maria di Leuca, the extreme edge of Puglia and in particular of Salento, there are still works dating back to the Fascist period.

This is the case of the monumental waterfall, an imposing work, completed in 1939, which boasts a length of over 250 meters and a height difference of about 120 meters, with a flow rate of 1,000 liters per second that ends directly in the sea.

The waterfall represents the final term of an even more sumptuous work, that of the Apulian Aqueduct, the largest water supply infrastructure in Europe, built during the first decades of the twentieth century and consisting of a series of ‘ trunks’ that branch off from the main canals thus allowing the water supply to over 300 municipalities, mostly from Puglia, but also from Campania.

One of these trunks, the Great Leccese Siphon, constitutes the final part of the Aqueduct and, reaching Santa Maria di Leuca, feeds the monumental waterfall, which therefore actually represents the final outlet of the path followed by the water.

As mentioned, the work was completed during the rule of Mussolini, who, to celebrate the event, had the Roman Monolithic Column brought directly from Rome, now located at the end of the staircase that flanks the waterfall.

The staircase itself deserves special attention: it consists of two ramps, each of which consists of 300 steps, which descend from the Japigio promontory, on which the Papal Basilica stands, to the port, where the waters of the waterfall flow. The two ramps therefore frame the main work constituted by the waterfall, and enrich the scenographic effect desired by the Duce to sanction and celebrate the end of the works on the Aqueduct, which ended long after the initial predictions due to the outbreak of the conflict world.

Opening of the monumental waterfall

The waterfall does not allow onlookers, tourists and spectators to be admired continuously, but on the contrary it is rarely activated, especially during the summer period, both to allow the water to drain and drain, and to create a suggestive and fascinating spectacle. (unfortunately there is no particular timetable for opening, it is necessary to consult the tourist office of the municipality on 0833 75 10 68).

Precisely for the scenic purpose of the waterfall, the water that constitutes it is, unlike that of the Aqueduct, brackish and not drinkable. Furthermore, to increase the suggestive effect of the work, it was recently, in the course of 2010, that a lighting system designed ad hoc was developed. The result is of great impact, so much so that it is now considered one of the essential destinations of Salento tourism.
To enjoy the majesty and spectacularity of the event in the best possible way, two positions have been designed, two ideal points of view: the first is the upper belvedere, from which you can admire the waterfall and the surrounding panorama, complete with sea ​​and vegetation typical of the Mediterranean scrub.

The second, on the contrary, is located at the foot of the waterfall, therefore in the lower part of the work: from here it is possible to admire the majesty and power released by the water, as well as being, for the more curious, the possibility of seeing some historical residues related to the fascist era in which the waterfall was completed. In fact, at the foot of the terminal column, one can still glimpse commemorative inscriptions dating back to the Fascist period; however, these are artifacts that have been tampered with over the years, due to the censorship to which the remains of the Fascist era were subjected.

Finally, a note of curiosity: during one of the last performances of the waterfall, the spectators present were given as a gift very special gadgets: small flow reducers, with the double purpose of representing the water saving policy of the Aqueduct. and to convey a good message for the fight against water waste.