Otranto is a town located on the Apulian coast – at Punta Palascia, the most extreme point of Salento and the easternmost point of Italy, between the Ionian and Adriatic Seas – in the province of Lecce, and is a renowned tourist centre. Its ancient and splendid village has been recognized the status of Unesco Cultural Heritage.
The historic center of Otranto, crossed by the Idro, retains all its ancient charm, being in effect a fortified city, closed by the defensive walls that open into the Porta Alfonsina. In the heart of Otranto there are many sacred buildings of great importance, such as the Cathedral of Santa Maria Annunziata, dating back to the Norman period, which stands on the remains of a Messapian village and on those of a Roman residence, where the relics of the Holy Martyrs of Otranto are kept: 800 prisoners who, in 1480, were beheaded by the Turks of Muhammad II for not wanting to abjure the Christian faith.
Art beyond the waves of Otranto
In the territory of Otranto, moreover, are an attraction of considerable interest also the rural church of Madonna della Serra, the Catacombs of San Giovanni, early Christian, the hypogeum of Torre Pinta, which was the seat of the community of the Basilian friars, and the Crypt of Saint Nicholas, excavated in the rocky walls of the Valley of Memory, with traces of Byzantine frescoes. In addition, along the coast, there are many coastal towers, including Torre Fiumicelli, Torre Santo Stefano and Torre dell’Orte.
A place of great attraction is represented by the Deer Cave, in Porto Badisco, which contains an extraordinary pictorial heritage including hundreds of images of men, ritual scenes, hunting scenes and animals of inestimable historical and archaeological value. An excursion is also recommended at the former Cava di Bauxite and the emerald green lake, characterized by the strong chromatic contrast with the red of the walls, near the Baia delle Orte.
Otranto: the most famous beaches
Overall, Otranto refers to a littoral along 25 km, among the most beautiful in Puglia, which guarantees the presence of long stretches of sandy beach and some instead of rocky nature, and part of the territory is part of the Regional Natural Park Costa Otranto-Santa Maria di Leuca and Bosco di Tricase, established to safeguard the eastern coast of Salento and the historical-architectural, faunal and floral heritage.
The most famous beach is that of the Bay of the Turks, where took place the landing of the Turkish pirates who besieged the city, with its beautiful unspoilt landscape marked by white beaches, where there are beaches and refreshment points. Very popular is also the area of Torre Sant’Andrea, with its succession of small sandy coves.
The gastronomic tradition of Otranto
The gastronomic tradition of Otranto, linked to that of Salento, offers a rich choice of dishes and extraordinary specialties, where the products of the sea and those of the land are combined in a really wonderful, thanks to the excellent olive oil. The most traditional dish is definitely “ciciri e tria”, prepared with large fried noodles and seasoned with chickpea broth, but equally unmissable are the fresh pasta topped with tomato sauce, or sauces with lamb meat.
Then there are the “taiedda“, prepared with rice, potatoes and mussels, fish soup, and spelt soup with redfish and seafood. Among the meats, typical are the “turcinieddhri“, the rolls of lamb and kid entrails. Also worthy of attention are desserts, including almond paste, the delicious “pasticciotto“, made with shortcrust pastry stuffed with custard. Of great importance are also the wines, including Primitivo and Negroamaro.
Where to sleep in Otranto
The accommodation capacity of Otranto guarantees ample accommodation throughout the year. In addition to the wide choice of hotels, there is also a widespread offer of holiday homes and B&B, and some suggestive solutions , offered by charming hotels in ancient historic homes. Try the experience of sleeping in one of the many charming ancient farms in Salento present in the territory of Otranto.
Cover Image: Puglia.it