Otranto

A balcony in Otranto - Photo © Luciana Coletti -*Elle*
A balcony in Otranto – Photo © Luciana Coletti -*Elle*

 

Otranto is a town and commune in the province of Lecce (Apulia), in a fertile region, and once famous for its breed of horses.

Otranto is situated on the east coast of the Salento peninsula. The Strait of Otranto connects the Adriatic Sea with the Ionian Sea.

The harbor is small and has little trade.

Otranto
Otranto – Photo © Luciana Coletti -*Elle*

About 50 km southeast lies the promontory of Santa Maria di Leuca (so called since ancient times from its white cliffs, leukos being Greek for white), the southeastern extremity of Italy, the ancient Promontorium lapygium or Sallentinum.

The district between this promontory and Otranto is thickly populated, and very fertile.

To See

Otranto main monuments include:

  • The Castello Aragonese (Castle), reinforced by Emperor Frederick II and rebuilt by Alfonso I of Aragon in 1485-1498. It has an irregular plan with five sides, with a moat running along the entire perimeter. In origin it had a single entrance, reachable through a draw-bridge.Towers include three cylindrical ones an a bastion called Punta di Diamante (“Diamond’s Head”).The entrance sports the coat of arms of Emperor Charles V.

Otranto
Otranto – Photo © Luciana Coletti -*Elle*

  • The Cathedral, consecrated in 1088, a work of Count Roger I adorned later (about 1163), by Bishop Jonathas, with a mosaic floor; it has a rose window and side portal of 1481. The interior, a basilica with nave and two aisles, contains columns said to come from a temple of Minerva and a fine mosaic pavement of 1166, with interesting representations of the months, Old Testament subjects and others. It has a crypt supported by forty-two marble columns. The same Count Roger also founded a Basilian monastery here, which, under Abbot Nicetas, became a place of study; its library was nearly all bought by Bessarion.
  • The church of San ietro, with Byzantine frescoes.
  • The catacumbs of Torre Pinta.

Where to stay in Otranto

There are hotels, B&Bs, villas and apartments available, check them out and make a reservation here.