Otranto is a jewlery
"Historical cathedral and center"
the story of the city of Otranto began before the Roman Empire with the messapiche settlements, Greek colons. So a traveller can find around here megalithic stones, caves along the seaside with wall paintings, landscapes full of ancient signs. I will often remember during a walk in there to climb on a stones little hill and when going down to realize it was the Dolmen Placa made of stones big as my fist (also called Tumulus). It is incredible after the antic History (Magna Grecia and Roman Empire) how many times Otranto was occupied: from Byzance, from the North with the Normans, from France and Spain, also with the Venetian army, the Turkish pirates, and then the Napoleonic period in Italy. The result of this history of battles is tremendous as you can see in the Cathedral where you will find the bones of 800 young men killed by the Turkish pirates because they decided not to convert Islam. The mosaic representing a tree of life is the most incredible artwork I have never seen. In the entrance travellers will find 2 elephants coming from the imagination of a man who never travel to Asia but only red few books as he was working as a monk in an oriental religious centre near Otranto. Some animals real or not, some pieces of the biblical history, some historical elements of medieval history (until Alexander the Great), some very simple stories as the calendar and zodiac signs... And more some strong images trough the elements represented as a siren with a double queue, the good & the bad with a bull figure they say Picasso took as a model for Guernica... such a great number of signs and interpretations which are boiling under my imagination.
"My favourite places in Otranto"
First special place: the Hotel Palazzo Papaleo, an antic house from a big name' family in here Papaleo. For their capacity to serve my request with efficiency, smiling and anticipating even myself. For the long list of services such as Turkish bath, Jacuzzi, massages, itineraries inside the Italian life, the Italian breakfast, the conventions with all best restaurants in here... For the location of the hotel near (one meter) from my second best place: the cathedral of Otranto. I have written some few words on another page about it, but it is not enough. Any traveller need to see the mosaic of Otranto. Tree of life has meant for me to recognize myself inside a story written above my feet, and as a neophyte in Popular art, I really understand what was happening in front of the opera listening and looking for others from 7 to 70 years old. It has a power universal different from the strength of one who believe in his god and find himself in his back ground. The curiosity, the energy this fantastic opera confers to any comment from the scientist to the last curious entered in contact with, is great. It refers to paleo-cristian tradition, from this monk Pantaleone who was studying, translating books from Orient into Latin. Who created in here, an opera to get every kind of people attracted to this church, like the perfume of Suskind. Amazing !
During the summer there are religious festivities very important for the area in here where you can see the very true affection for Otranto. Such a great number of people by the street that I could walk before 2 am outside, but as I stayed on the roof garden of my hotel, I felt every moment of these 5 great days. It is difficult to say as I went to the beaches during the day to rest, how much energy spent for free there was during the evening. The best scene I saw were the pizzica dance, the official procession, the sunset on the Bastion, the very deep world music knowledge of Animamundi music store, the very fresh fish in two or three restaurants, the prediner cocktail they invent for me in my hotel (Gin Fik)...
"Sea, sun and wind"
Otranto is well known for the sea (Maldives colour of its beaches), the sun which was in September almost burning me, and the wind (tramontagna, scirocco or no wind). As I was there I had a great time to find new places for a bath everyday: in the forest of Baia dei Turchi, on the rocks in Le Orte, in the wildest part of Salento before Castro, in the creek of Torre S. Andrea, in the fresh river inside the sea in Castro (Acqua viva), until Santa Maria di Leuca and on the other side of Salento. A 360 degree (almost) sea from the wildest shores to the private beaches, from the rocks to the sand, from the forest to the flat stoned landscape, from the silence to the birds and wind rumour... Every night an event, as I was told on the beaches, in particolar I really enjoyed the traditional music every tuesday in Lu Puzzu (Sternatia) with tambours and traditional songs. Great energy and few tourists but good people (life lovers).