Italy’s easternmost town sticks out into the glistening Mediterranean, its waterfront lined with stunning medieval architecture and scenic harbors.
Stroll along the Otranto waterfront and pass a harbor packed with boats bobbing in the water, a medieval castle and picturesque promenades. In the past, this oceanfront area was the gateway to Italy from the East and many historic structures still stand here. Walking along the waterfront can be a good way to learn about Otranto’s history.
Start at the southern tip of the waterfront. Here, find the harbor where many different types of boats have docked. Amble along the pier to see fishing boats returning with their catches and glamorous sailing boats heading out to watch the sunset. At the harbor, book your own trip onto the ocean. Excursions take passengers out scuba diving and on trips to the rocky coves of Otranto’s coast.
Keep walking along the waterfront to see some of Otranto’s most engaging sights. Your first stop will be Otranto Castle (Castello Aragonese), made famous by Horace Walpole’s Gothic novel. Discover the history of the fortress and how it was the first point of defense in eastern Italy.
Enter into the old town by the bright stone walls of Porta d’Oriente, the Gate of the East, which is marked by the Statue for the Heroes and Martyrs. Learn more about these martyrs, who were executed during the Sack of Otranto in 1480, at Otranto Cathedral. The cathedral is also famed for the ornate 12th-century mosaics that decorate the entire floor.
Take a break from sightseeing and soak up the ocean views. Benches line the pedestrianized promenade, which runs along the front of the old town. Find a spot on one of the city beaches to sunbathe and watch boats in the harbor.
As evening approaches, choose a place to dine on the walls above the sea. Open-air restaurants perched on the high rocks that tower over the harbor offer spectacular views and rich Italian food.
Otranto waterfront is easily explored on foot. Head into Otranto on a train from Maglie, which has connections to the rest of Lecce province, then stroll around the old town and harbor.