The "Gateway to the East", the easternmost town of Italy, full of charm and history, surrounded by enchanting places.

Do not miss a walk in the narrow streets at sunset, after a day on the beaches nearby

Otranto, also called "Gateway to the East”, faces the namesake Canal between Apulia and the Balkans. It is also known to be the easternmost town and territory of Italy, and the first to greet the new year, so that every New Year an event called "Dawn of Peoples” is expressly organized. On clear days you can even see the mountains of Albania.

Otranto shows its fascinating and sunny side to all visitors, full of the eastern charm coming from its history. Founded by Greek colonists, it was a Roman municipium until 757, then it was ruled by the Lombards, the Byzantines, the Angevins and the Aragonese. It was disputed by the Turks, who invaded it in 1480, and ruled for only one year, however, deeply affecting its culture and appearance, also in the following centuries.

Even today, the historic centre of Otranto remains intact, very lively both during the day and at night. You should visit the Cathedral, completed and opened to worship in 1088: thanks to its imposing size it’s the largest church in Apulia. Its facade was rebuilt after the Turkish invasion and its floor mosaic made in the twelfth century, and now completely restored, has an inestimable value. Inside there are the remains of 800 martyrs killed by the Turks during their invasion.

The symbol of Otranto is the Aragonese Castle, with its towers, ramparts and walls. After the invasion the town was greatly strengthened to defend it from enemy attack. The old town is lively and pleasant, with its narrow streets made of stone, winding snakewise among the houses, now used mostly to host small shops and gastronomic activities.


The surroundings of Otranto are just as worthy of a visit and offer the opportunity to relax in beach resorts which have become very popular and fashionable. Let’s see them at a glance:

  • The Great and the Small Lake Alimini (or Fontanelle) are two moderately sized lakes, belonging to a protected area, around which there are large and airy sandy beaches, surrounded by rare and unspoiled nature.
  • The Bay of the Turks is the place where, according to legend, the Turkish warriors disembarked during the siege in the 15th century. Today it’s a cove of fine sands and crystal clear waters, an amazing site now also belonging to the protected oasis of the Lakes Alimini.
  • Punta Palascia, or Capo d'Otranto, the easternmost point of Italy. The coast is lined with cliffs overlooking the sea and its lighthouse, recently renovated, is one of five lighthouses of the Mediterranean Sea protected by the European Commission. Here it is a tradition to wait for the New Year at the foot of the lighthouse.
  • Porto Badisco, whose coastline is made up of a real miniature fjord. Nowadays there are only a few fishermen's houses in this location, but legend has it that Aeneas, on his trip to Italy, landed right here. The sea of Porto Badisco is a large blue expanse, interrupted only by the white foam whipping the jagged coastline. The particular transparency of the water allows snorkelers and scuba divers to visit the beautiful seabed of this stretch. In Porto Badisco you’ll also find the Deer Cave, which contains important Palaeolithic graffiti and is characterized by numerous ravines and extraordinarily beautiful coves.

Tue, 21 July 2015
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