The town of Otranto, Italy is in the Puglia area and a very pretty town to enjoy visiting. It is built on the Ancient Greek site of the town of Hydrus. The group I was traveling with spent two nights here during my April, 2022 trip. At this time it was a quiet village with not many tourists. Otranto is a seaside town with lots of history, including a castle and an 11th century church.
We arrived in Otranto by foot as the group I was with was on a walking tour of the Puglia area. I loved the seaside views and really loved the Aragonese Castle which dates back from the 15th century. The town was quaint and had narrow streets and cute shops. We did get to tour the church, but unfortunately we did not have time to tour anything else in town. Other than the church, I took my photos while walking by on our way to our hikes, our hotel or our dinners. Regardless, it was an amazing experience to be walking through this beautiful town.
Cattedrale di Santa Maria Annunziata
Consecrated in 1088, the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary in Otranto is very remarkable. This Roman Catholic Cathedral is known for its mosaic floor and skull altar. The mosaic floor is throughout the cathedral with the Tree of Life running down the center aisle and branching out throughout the floor of the cathedral.
There is also a very old fresco of the Madonna and child in this cathedral, although in disrepair it is still beautiful. In addition, the ceiling is a work of art.
In 1480 the Ottoman’s captured Otranto and the faithful took refuge in this cathedral. Nonetheless, the Ottoman’s were able to break. When the 813 residents refused to convert to Islam, they were all executed. The Ottoman’s also heavily damaged the church. Eventually Ortranto was taken back from the captors and the church repaired. An altar containing the bones and skulls of the over 800 Martyrs was added. In the center of the alter is the rock on which it is said the faithful had been executed on.
I am going to admit that I found this quite creepy yet fascinating.
Aragonese Castle of Otranto
Built in the late 15th century, this castle is quite impressive. We saw it from the outside as we walked past it a few times. From my understanding, they offer tours of the castle’s rooms and tunnels. It looked amazing and includes a moat!
Streets in Town
The streets in town are narrow and quaint and appear quite ancient. Although we didn’t have time to explore all of the shops, I was able to pop in a couple of shops on the way to dinner and there were some nice shops for souvenirs, clothing and scarves.
Wine Tasting and Dinner
Our first night we had a wine tasting and also dinner at Ristorante Vecchia Otranto. The wine and food were all very good and the service was nice as well. The restaurant was super cute and cozy. The food and wine were local specialties.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at the Hotel Corte di Nettuno, just a short walk from the seaside. It was on a quiet side street yet convenient. The hotel staff were very friendly and also accommodating. My room was comfortable, clean and opened to an outdoor courtyard. It is a nice place to stay while visiting Otranto, Italy.
All in all, Otranto was an interesting and beautiful town. I really enjoyed visiting it and also staying here during my group walking tour through Puglia, Italy. Hopefully I can return someday to fully explore it!
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