Otranto is a seaside town in the province of Lecce on the east coast of the Salento peninsula in Puglia. It is positioned just above the point of the stiletto which is the heel of Italy’s iconic boot. It has 10km of beaches and diving rocks and is a popular holiday destination.
In Roman times it was important as the nearest port to the eastern shores of the Adriatic Sea.
Positioned on the Straits of Otranto between the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, on a clear day it is possible to see Albania in the distance.
Otranto was a town of Greek origin and was important as a Greek, then Roman, port called Hydrus. Invaded by the Ottoman Turkish fleet in 1480, for a while it was ruled by the Byzantines. Eight hundred locals – The Martyrs of Otranto – were executed for refusing to convert to Islam and their bones are now piled high behind glass in the cathedral.
This is the monument to The Martyrs, situated in the main piazza.
Then, in 1804, the city was invaded by Napoleon’s forces and a French garrison was sent there to watch the movements of the English fleet.
I spent just a couple of hours in Otranto last September at the end of the holiday season.
Even at that time of year, there were quite a few people on the beach soaking up the autumn sunshine.
With camera in hand it was possible to capture some of its considerable charm to share with you.
The streets are paved with shiny travertine.
Wandering up and down the narrow alleyways, I was fascinated by the wonderful ceramic showrooms and colourful souvenirs that were on display.
I strolled past the old fortress …..
….gazed at some characterful houses…..
…enjoyed seeing the locals strolling in the large, quiet piazza…..
….strolled past the Church of St. Peter…..
.and found a quiet bench down by the port to soak up the atmosphere.
Definitely a seaside town to visit in sunny Puglia, it even has a quaint taxi service!
Looking forward to a return visit soon.