Puglia is home to 120 menhirs and 50 dolmens. Most of these are concentrated in the Salento region. Now, in case you don’t know what menhirs and dolmens are, I will tell you. They are ancient stone works — think Stonehenge. Menhirs are usually single pieces of stone standing straight up from a base, while dolmens are groups of stone, normally covered by another one which sits on top. No one knows who built them, or why they are found in one spot as opposed to another, or even what their exact function may have been, but they do exist. So, to kill time while driving from Maglie to Otranto, we decided to try and find a few, which, according to a map that we saw, were in the immediate area. The first one was by a train track. We followed the directions to the spot, but could not find the ancient structure. We even went into the town, turned around, and tried again, but didn’t see it. A little frustrated, we set off in search of the second one on the list. This one, we found. It was right behind a church, in a field, out in the countryside.As we were photographing the menhir, it began to rain, so we headed back to the car, only to discover that we had a flat tire. Luckily, there was a spare tire in the trunk of the car, and with the help of a kind truck driver, the tire was changed, and we were able to continue on to Otranto.
I had booked an apartment, “Corteminerva Gelso Moro,” on Booking.com, for the two of us to stay in, for the next four nights. The apartment was on three levels, had two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a lovely kitchen, a basement level that could also sleep two people, as well as a rooftop terrace, and a private garden. The cost of the place for the four nights was €209.00.While I unpacked, Susan went to a gas station with the landlord, to buy another tire for the car. She was able to buy a used tire for around €20.00, so all was well with the auto, once again, and we set off on foot, to explore the city a bit.Otranto is the easternmost town on the Adriatic Coast of Puglia. It has been listed as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy, and in 2010, it was also declared a Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO. Ancient walls still surround the Centro Storico, and once you enter the old section of the city, it’s easy to see why this place is such a popular tourist beacon. It is utterly charming! We entered the old part of the city through the Porta Alfonsina. Along the waterfront, there is the lovely Lungomare degli Eroi, with its monument to all of the residents of the city who died fighting against the Turkish invaders. As we explored, we stumbled upon the ruins of a church. I thought that the Cappella dell’Immacolata was very beautiful, and could only imagine what it once must have looked like!Because of its location, during the Roman times, Otranto was one of the most important maritime cities in all of Puglia. On either side of the doorway to Palazzo Arulla, there are two marble bases that have Latin inscriptions carved into them, which date from the second century. Caffè Sud Est became our cocktail bar of choice, while we were in Otranto. For our first dinner in this city, we went to a place called Alla Risacca. The food was good, but service was a bit spotty, as they had a huge private party in the place, and most of the staff seemed occupied with that, leaving the rest of the diners (all two tables of us) to almost have to fend for ourselves.
Next up: More from Otranto, including the magnificent Cattedrale dell’Annunziata!
Note: This blog is written in English and Spanish, and the author takes no responsibility for the quality of any other translations which may appear. If you enjoyed this post, please, check out our archives for more posts from bella Puglia, and other Italian destinations. Grazie!