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Visiting Otranto

The sun is shining and the sky is (luna)blu, no clouds, but windy .... always in this area by the way ! The people from Salento say it themselves:"lu sule, lu mare, lu ientu”, which in english means, “the sun, the ocean, the wind" (sounds better in Italian doesnt it?) haha....We park our car just outside of the old center and walk towards to the seaside promenades... sundays are the best day to do so, if you want to mingle with Italian families soaking up the sun and spending quality time with your own family and friends. You will find a mix of history, architecture, views, sea-front restaurants and white sandy beach. We think it makes it one of Puglia's most interesting, charming and picturesque towns. Well this is what it looks like:

The imposing castle, thick perimeter walls and robust towers (built after the town was liberated from the Turks in the late 15th century) dominate much of the town, giving way to a small port, a series of sea-front promenades with excellent fish restaurants and the town's very own beautiful white sandy beach and turquoise waters. The delightful Romanesque cathedral, dating back to 1088 and boasting extensive 12th century floor mosaics, is another highlight that should not be missed. When we take our guests on an Otranto excursion we will visit the cathedral, it remains impressive to see a tree of life in a church. The symbolism and the detail are revealing new pieces every time we visit. The precious pavement has symbols, animals and words whose meaning has never been deciphered. We try to find something new every time! Can you see it?

Otranto is famous for being besieged, conquered and sacked in 1480 by the Turks who attempted to build an Ottoman bridgehead on Christian Land. The last 800 men who withstood the attack were decapitated. The Otranto’s Martyrs’ skulls are stored in glass shrines by a side altar of the cathedral and can be visited. No picture of this here in this blog: this is something to be experienced only!

After some shopping, some walking, a nice glass of wine and a friendly chat with the owners, when the sun is at its highest point in the sky, it is time for an icecream...There are always queues, this is the best icecream ever... Father and son produce it in their own laboratoria, and if it is not too crowded Francesco comes out to explain about how they process the icecreams in real italian style! Once everyone has choosen their flavors (it normally takes a while, decisions decisions) we slowly move back towards the oceanviews....

And sit, relax and enjoy the view!

Top 5 things to do in Otranto:

  • Buying souvenirs if this is an obligatory part of your travels

  • Visit the Cathedral of Santa Maria Annunziata and its majestic mosaic of “Tree of Life” from the 12th century.

  • Pay a visit to the Church of St. Peter (La Chiesa di San Pietro) that is considered a masterpiece of Byzantine art in Puglia.

  • Lunch time: grab a ‘puccia‘ in a local food hall near the central beach

  • Finish the day with an carmalized figs icecreams from Francesco's place

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