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Travel in Puglia – Italy: Otranto at a glance

Otranto is located on the Adriatic coast in southern Italy and is a seaside port with a rich history. Do you love taking pictures? That is an enough reason as to why you should head down to Otranto; the blue waters, diving rocks and white buildings are a scene that many only get to see in magazines and maps.

Most people have probably never heard of Otranto before apart from the few who have read “The Castle of Otranto,” a gothic novel by Horace Walpole. While the novel tries to draw a picture of the place, it does little to no justice to the actual location. Much of the historical richness of Otranto stems from the fact that close to 1,000 locals who refused to be converted to Islam when the Turks invaded in the 14th century were executed. Visitors can see their remains (skulls and bones) preserved in the cathedral in a stack behind glass.

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What to see in Otranto

While a travel itinerary to this location will have multiple locations to visit, the one that features in all of them is the town’s Romanesque cathedral. The large scale project was done by a monk simply known as Pantaleone. Mosaics on the walls inside the cathedral tell of Bible stories such as the Noah’s ark. There are also historical, mythical and pagan figures like Alexander the Great and King Arthur. Right beside this major attraction is the Museo Diocesano, a small museum that houses local fragments of historical significance.

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There is another very unique attraction that draws up quite some attention – Chiesa di San Pietro. A beautiful yet small building, this structure is home to Byzantine frescoes and is believed to have been Otranto’ principal church at some point.

Another must-see attraction in Otranto is the Castello Aragonese or ‘castle of Otranto’ which was put up in the 15th century. Sometimes the castle plays host to exhibitions but many people might have run by it when going to the tourist office which lies close by.

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Tourist sites form a tip of the tourist lifestyle in Otranto because the lanes around town form great stroll lanes. Walking around is also an opportunity to identify the various views and picturesque scenes to snap away. Since the center is at the heart of an enclosure of walls, there is a historic feel within and around it. The streets are busy with lined-up ceramics, sandals and other souvenirs for tourists to buy.

Beach life in Otranto

The small beaches within Otranto are quite small but are the ideal luxury spot for those who can afford to take a break from their busy schedules in the off-peak season. The coastline lies within the borders of Otranto with the precision and clarity of a map drawing. The many beach spots can be accessed from the north and the south especially for those who are driving. Drive to the southern side of Otranto to see Porto Badisco or to the northern side for a sun bath at Baia dei Turchi and Laghi Alimini beaches.

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Beyond Otranto

From Lecce to Otranto is a day trip that leaves you plenty of time to go around and enjoy the various sceneries. A car would be a better alternative simply because it offers the flexibility of making stops at your own will. Take advantage of this time to visit the small spots around the area. For those who are new to the area or would love to explore as much as possible, prepare an itinerary before you start to explore and bring a map to help you navigate one of the most beautiful towns in Puglia.

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Travelling to and within Otranto

For those coming to Otranto via international flights, Brindisi airport is the best but Bari will serve you well if you wish to travel to many areas within Puglia. There is a railway line that services Otranto and this is often preferred by those who wish to take pictures of the countryside. The station staff are quite resourceful so consider the train if you are on a budget or out for adventure.

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