Posted by: Debra Kolkka | August 17, 2019

Otranto by the sea

Otranto is the eastern-most town in Italy. It sits on the Adriatic coast in the province of Lecce in Puglia. It occupies the site of an ancient Greek city. Otranto was a city and an important port in Roman times and has had a turbulent past.

These days it is a pretty seaside town popular with tourists. The sun was out for our visit.

We walked along the boardwalk to the old town.


Cafes and restaurants sit on top of the ramparts and offer lovely sea views.



There is a beach of sorts. There are better beaches just outside the town.

The centre of the town is within the defensive walls, adding to its charm.

Once inside the walls a lively street scene unfolds. There are interesting shops, cafes and restaurants dotted amongst the old buildings.

On the edge of town we found the remnants of Torre Matta tower.

The huge 5 sided Castello Argonese was rebuilt by Alphonso II of Naples in 1495 – 98. Originally it had a single entrance via a draw bridge over a moat.

The Otranto Cathedral was consecrated in 1088. It has a spectacular mosaic floor, rose window and a crypt supported by 42 marble columns.

The figures on the roof are well weathered.

The cathedral was closed when we were there, but I found a fuzzy old photo of the crypt I took 10 years ago on a previous visit.

We were lucky to see Otranto on a sunny day…the rain returned soon after. I can see it would be a good base for a stay in Puglia.




  1. What a surprise city by the sea.Otranto – seen the name but didn’t realise how lovely it was. Love the pictures of Torre Matta.

    • It is a lovely town, one of the best we found in Puglia.

  2. I’ve always wanted to explore Puglia! Good to know about Otranto 😀

    • Be selective in Puglia. I have a couple of places left in Puglia to write posts about then there will be an overview, which probably won’t please a few people.

  3. Been following your blog for a few years now Debra… always interesting with great photography, much appreciated. Just curious… if you had your time again, and you were to pick a year-round, smallish, livable Italian town that didn’t have too harsh winters and didn’t completely shut down, yet also wasn’t too touristy in summer… which places would be on your shortlist?

    • Not an easy question! I would happily suggest Lucca. It does get a bit cold in winter and in high summer there are lots of tourists, but at this stage many are day trippers so they leave at about 5.00pm. It is still busy enough in winter and is close to lots of great places.
      My favourite area of Italy is the Amalfi Coast, but it is too expensive, too busy in summer and a bit far south for easy access to northern parts.
      We are very happy with our decision to buy in Bagni di Lucca. It is a bit quiet in winter, but close to interesting places.
      Vergemoli, where we built Casa Debbio, is also lovely, but a bit remote to live permanently.
      Another place I love is Varenna on Lake Como. I could live there.
      I love Spello in Umbria. It is a place I keep returning to.
      Arezzo is another favourite. It doesn’t seem to be overrun with tourists, is big enough to have things to do and is centrally located.
      I hope this helps a little.

      • Thanks Debra… yes we really liked Arezzo and have spent quite a bit of time in Umbria… although closer to the coast would be our preference. It’s always interesting to get other Italophiles’ take on the various regions. So looking forward to your other Puglia posts as well.

  4. The luminosity of the place is outstanding.

    • We were lucky to have a sunny day for our visit.

  5. We liked Otranto very much, as it’s a good sized town with plenty to see for a day or so. And so many places are drivable from there. Good memories, thanks for reminding me with your lovely photos.

    • We liked it too. It is just 30 minutes from Lecce which will be the subject of my next post.

  6. Hi,we are planning a trip to Varenna soon and wonder if you have recommendations for hotels,appartments and restaurants. Love your taste in everything!

    • We have stayed at Villa Cipressi twice. It is gorgeous and right beside the famous garden. There is a post on Varenna from years ago. Type Varenna in the “Search” box.

      • Thanks so much. I will search Verenna right now!

  7. Beautiful. I love fortress villages on the coast as much as those on mountains. Such a different feel to them. Great photos.

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