The Colombo promenade in Santa Maria di Leuca, offers an opportunity to see these monuments currently associated with a historical rarity: the ‘bagnarole‘.
They are a historical symbol of the town and they represented over the centuries, the traditions and customs of those who lived there.
These typical reserved structures were built near the sea to protect from prying eyes. Built-in wood or stone and with small windows, they were mostly used by elderly ladies and also by young women to get undressed or to rest from the sun adding a sense of privacy.
Keep in mind that this takes us back to the 1920s when the women’s swimsuit consisted of long trousers, worn together with the sleeveless blouse, waist belt, and jacket, hat or bathing cap … and that only in the 1930s they began to uncover their back a little.
So the ‘bagnarola‘ was simply to protect virtue and intimacy.
The owners of the villas had a personal rounded, square, or octagonal shape stone bath, which reproduced the architectural style and the bright colors of the villa they belonged to.
The purpose of the bathtubs for the wealthy owners, with villas with direct access to the sea, was not only to enjoy a bath away from prying eyes but also to have an autonomy of space.
In general, the people also used natural or artificial excavations, among the rocks by the sea; there was even some construction of a slightly higher level, with even ladders to go down into the water. Some bathtubs also had lateral wooden or stone parts that closed the structure.
Today there are only three stone bathtubs, which certainly have an invaluable historical value: that of the Villa Meridiana, that of the Villa Fuortes, and a third building on the undeveloped cliff, near the pier.