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!
Diary of a Gen-X recommendations for hotels, restaurants, & tours are based on our own experiences. We do not receive compensation for recommending at any of these nor are we affiliates of any hotels, restaurants, or tours. The only hotels & restaurants we recommend are places we stay which are clean, comfortable, and also provide exceptional hospitality.
You can also Follow me on Instagram!!!!
Check out my other Italy posts:
Wander the Countryside in Puglia, Italy-April 2022
Walking Tour of Naples-April 2022
21 thoughts on “Visiting Otranto, Italy”
Another lovely spot to visit in Puglia! That floor mosaic inside the Cattedrale di Santa Maria Annunziata is so intricate and beautiful– so beautiful that I’d feel bad stepping on it! Bones inside churches seem to be a common theme in Italy, as I also visited one in Milan, haha. Glad you had another great time in the region, in Otranto!
I did not know that bones were common in the churches there so it was quite a shock!! I bet Milan was beautiful!
You have to love Italy, the food, the culture, the wine and the history. Thanks for sharing Lori. Allan
I agree! Love Italy for all the same reasons!
Beautiful photos! It does look lovely. I agree with you, the bones in the church is a bit creepy. 😊
Thanks for reading! I don’t think I could ever get used to those bones looking at me while in church!
Only “westerners” see bones in church as creepy, a solemn remembrance of a horrific event. Maybe the victims of all the current mass shootings should have their bones displayed in church everyday for folk to see to maybe change attitudes of horrific events that keep playing out over and over and over again in this country. Not to be morbid, Lori, but sometimes it appears that people find life in the west an inconvenience to be reminded, and for some reason not worth valuing as a society. Just saying….. jerry
Good points, Jerry. It is definitely a solemn remembrance for the people their and actually a way of paying homage.
Another wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your travels with us!!
Thank you! Glad you liked it!
Lovely location and photos!
Thank you! A very different part of Italy which was fun to explore!
It looks beautiful – I’d never heard of Otranto – just the food at Ristorante Vecchia Otranto makes it worth a visit! 🙂
Otranto is in the Puglia area of Italy which is the heal of the boot.
What an amazing account of the history of this community! Going from something so haunting as the bones of the slain to the beauty and charm of Ontranto to food and wine that have me hungry. Thanks so much for sharing these!
It really is a lovely area in Italy. I was so impressed by the history and simple beauty. I was also impressed with the wine. Being a Cabernet fan, Surprisingly, I loved their Rose’.
Magnífico blog! un gran placer leerlo y ver las fotografías. Gracias por darnos ideas, no conocemos esta zona.
Te invito a visitar también a mi blog de viajes, ¡genial poder compartir experiencias viajeras!.
Thank you! I will visit your blog too! Lori
Thank you Lori. Nice to meet you. Bests regards
Thank you for this post! I love Otranto but was only there a brief time and never made it inside the cathedral. Such a treat to see it today!
I loved it too and would have enjoyed more time there!