A holiday in Otranto will take you to Italy's easternmost coast on a rocky spur with a sheer drop to the sea, about 30 kilometres from Lecce. Salento's cultural, political and economic centre for centuries, it's been considered a natural bridge between the Mediterranean and the East since ancient times. Otranto still preserves traces of the meeting and mixing of cultures. Besides meeting the demands of beach tourists, Otranto offers attractions for those who want to spend a few days of total relaxation, with history, culture and breath-taking scenery.
Strolling through the old town of Otranto, you'll be overcome by the venerable charm of this village enclosed by Aragonese walls. Its traditional white houses and stone-paved streets lead to the beautiful cathedral, the biggest in all of the Apulia Region, characterised by its impressive Renaissance rose window with Gothic-Arabic artistic influences. Built during the Norman period, the Cathedral of Otranto bears the name Santa Maria Annunziata. It has characteristic features of 12th-century Apulian architecture and sculpture, such as the double arched lintels which run down into the marble columns and finely-sculpted Corinthian capitals.
A visit to the castle is an absolute must. The Aragonese Castle was Otranto's defensive stronghold, today a site of learning and culture hosting events and exhibits, often with an international scope. Surrounded by a wide moat that was built to defend the old city, the blockhouse is the gateway to the historic centre. The castle's history is particularly linked to the sad events of the Turkish siege in 1480, after which the Aragonese decided to build an extension to the defensive building with large embrasured towers. You can admire various architectonic details of the Aragonese Castle, such as the towers named Alfonsina, Duchess and Hippolyta, and the ramparts, known as the Diamond Point and the Triangular Hall, built with innovative defence techniques that make them one of the most important examples of military architecture from the period.
A great way to discover Otranto begins with an excursion to the Alimini Lakes area, two pools of water near the sea surrounded by Mediterranean maquis. Freshwater lagoons connected to the sea, the two lakes stretch out in front of the Alimini beaches, some of the most popular in all of Apulia. Here the sand, fine and fair as talcum, has remained pristine despite the passage of time. The Bay of Alimini is one of Salento's most evocative, where the sea, almost always clean and transparent, is surrounded by picturesque sand dunes and wildlands. Heading south through a beautiful pine forest typical of the Mediterranean maquis, you'll reach the Bay of Turks, famous as a surfers' paradise. North of Otranto, the Beaches of Sant'Andrea are a series of small beaches at the foot of the unmistakeable calcareous cliffs that characterise the stretch of coast between Torre dell'Orso and Sant'Andrea. The sea in this area is beautiful, transparent, crystalline, ranging from emerald green to cobalt blue with a rocky bottom near the shore and with three majestic stacks known as Lu Pepe, making the scenery quite unique. The nearby Torre Sant'Andrea is a small village that seems wild and fascinating, which still today is home to greeting inscriptions from Greek, Roman and Spanish sailors in the Grotta di San Cristoforo (a cave).
Holidays in Otranto offer this and much more. With sports, outdoor activities and breathtaking scenery, you'll never run out of options. Leaving Otranto behind and heading south, you'll reach Torre del Serpe and Porto Badisco. Not far from there you will find Approdo di Enea Beach, a small evocative harbour described by Virgil in the Aeneid. It's an enchanting beach nestled inside a small narrow inlet bordered by cliffs that house the remains of prehistoric elephants in their caves. Instead, to the north, you can visit the Grotta dei Cervi cave. There the sea is turquoise, crystalline and transparent with a rather sandy bottom, perfect for safe swimming.
Last but not least, the Spiaggia dell'Orte beach, situated about 4 kilometres south of Otranto, is nestled in the splendid Orte Bay between the white strip of Punta Faci and the Capo d'Otranto promontory. The coastline is a succession of alternating sandy and rocky beaches and picturesque coves sheltered by pine forests. Take a look at the holiday packages to Otranto and get ready to spend a few days of complete relaxation amidst the wildest, most untouched nature.