This historic port and seaside town on southern Italy’s Adriatic coast has a welcoming vacation atmosphere, making it a perfect spot for day trips and longer breaks. Its white buildings and blue waters make Otranto one of the most attractive places to visit in Puglia.
Right down near the heel of the boot of Italy, the town of Otranto boasts amazing views of Albania and across the Strait of Otranto, and, in fact, it was this strategic location that led to its mixed and colorful past as both a Roman and Greek port.
Later, Otranto found itself under the rule of many nations over the years, including the Byzantines, Normans, and Aragonese before being invaded in 1480 by the Turks who executed 800 local people who refused to convert to the Islamic religion. Today, Otranto is a popular choice with holiday makers looking for peace and quiet.
Attractions in Otranto
Baia dei Turchi Beach
Puglia’s beaches are well-known for their beauty, and Otranto is home to one particular well-known bay. Located to the north of the town, Otranto’s most famous beach is the Baia dei Turchi. One of the hundred places under the FAI’s protection, this bay is also within the oasis of the protected Almini Lakes. Known as one of Salento’s most beautiful locations, it boasts gorgeous crystal clear water that is perfect for swimming.
The Cathedral of Otranto
A stunning example of the Romanesque style of architecture, Otranto’s cathedral is one of Italy’s biggest churches. Located at the town’s highest point, it was founded in 1088, but in the years since it has seen heavy restorations, especially during the 1600s and 1700s. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary’s Annunciation, the cathedral’s top feature is its floor mosaics depicting the tree of life dating back to the 12th century.
Otranto’s former castle is still quite an impressive fortified structure, presiding over the city with half of its complex facing the sea and cliff edge and its other half boasting its own grand keep and moat. Once home to nobles and the military, today it is a museum and houses various fascinating exhibitions.