Porto Cesareo and the fish market

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28km from Lecce, nestled on the Ionian coast of Puglia, Porto Cesareo is a renowned tourist resort, famous for its golden beaches and enchanting sea, but also for its strategic position that allows you to easily reach the most beautiful places of Salento. The small village of Porto Cesareo follows the rhythm of the sea and the seasons, enclosing everything around the marina, home to the fish market and the characteristic and colourful boats. The sea is undoubtedly one of the strong points of the coast of Salento and not only from the point of view of landscape and tourism…In fact, it is right in the sea that hides one of the greatest richnesses of the whole Puglia: the fresh fish.

If you decide to spend your summer holidays in Porto Cesareo, among the scenes of life that will appear most often before your eyes, you will see the fishermen who return from their night fishing trip early in the morning, loaded with wonders to expose to the public and ready to bargain the prices of the crates of fresh fish with the fish stores near the marina.

Under the old Saracen tower, there is the small port and a few meters away the Movida of the Fish, a small street in which six fish shops are concentrated, one after another, which are a real pleasure for lovers of the genre. Each fishery is managed by a fishing vessel or a series of small boats, which every day provide tons of fresh fish, clams and shellfish of impossible colours. The fish market of Porto Cesareo has many good reasons to be visited: spend a morning in the open air, listen and maybe learn something of the classic Salento dialect and discover the secrets of buying and selling. But the best advantage is for your palate because, once you admire these goodnesses you will surely be hungry!

Being one of the main ingredients of Salento’s gastronomic tradition, fresh fish is cooked in a thousand different ways and, above all, offered often and gladly at the many summer festivals. Just think of the fish festival held in Gallipoli; the festival dedicated to the sea urchin in Porto Badisco; the different octopus festivals, with its typical salad, or the unique colour of the scapece, another typical local delicacy made with fried blue fish preserved in bread crumbs soaked in vinegar and saffron; or even, the fried fish festival that takes place in Santa Maria di Leuca.

In short, if you are thinking of a holiday in this part of town, you can’t avoid a good Salento recipe based on fresh fish and that’s why I want to propose you one of my favourite recipes that you can prepare yourself or enjoy during your holiday in one of the many restaurants here in Porto Cesareo.

La Quatara

Every seaside resort has fish soup and “quatara” is the fish soup of Porto Cesareo. Probably invented by the fishermen of Porto Cesareo, the quatara consisted of “pizzicato” fish, that is fish bitten by other fish species and therefore not sold on the market. Since the fisherman could not sell it, he ate it. It takes its name from the “quatara”, that is, the large copper pot with a rather voluminous shape, in which this tasty fish soup was cooked. Born as a recuperated dish, over the years it has become one of the many gastronomic excellences of Salento and has also received many awards.


  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Onion
  • 1 bottle of tomato sauce
  • Seawater
  • Cuttlefish
  • Crabs
  • Sea cicadas
  • Blue fish to taste
  • Parsley q.s.


In a saucepan, preferably copper, heat extra virgin olive oil with a large chopped onion. As soon as the onion turns brown, add a bottle of tomato sauce. Let it cook until it boils, adding a little sea water during cooking. Clean the cuttlefish, the crabs, the cicadas and selected fish and add them to the soup, which has reached a boil in the meantime. Let cook for 10 minutes and serve sprinkling the soup with parsley (as desired). Quatara may be accompanied by slices of toast favoured with garlic.


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Rosella Mazza

Born in 1993
Serial traveller, my head is in the clouds and my feet on the ground. I have a thing for the Caribbean and unconditional love for the sea. If there's one thing I get excited about, it is closing my eyes and pointing my finger at my globe, chasing the next destination.