We managed to do quite a lot, on our last day in Otranto. We saw some more of the city, took a walk into the surrounding countryside, and managed to get in two road trips. We started the first road trip in the morning. We wanted to drive down to the bottom of the heel of Italy’s boot. We realized that part of the time would be spent repeating the drive that we had made the day before, but this time we wouldn’t have to stop at the same sights, and so what took us hours to do then, would take much less time today. But, of course, as soon as we left the city of Otranto, we began to notice things that we had totally missed on our earlier drive.
Driving south from Otranto, off to the right of the road, we spotted the ruins of the Abbazia di San Nicola di Casole. There is not much left of the church, but it looked interesting enough that we turned down a dirt road, to explore it a bit further.The church was founded in 1098, and, at the time, had one of the richest libraries of Greek and Latin works in all of Europe. After a brief visit, we got back into the car, and continued south.This part of the Italian coastline has many grottoes, some of which are possible to visit, via boat. We saw a sign for one, and stopped, but alas, it was closed due to rough seas.Unable to visit the grotto, we got back into the car, and continued on our way.We had to stop for a few minutes, to admire the remains of the Torre Nasparo.We had reached our destination, just in time for lunch. We returned to Otranto, and decided to explore the Valle dell’Idro, or the Valley of Idro, the valley through which the Idro River flows. There is a clearly marked path which begins in Otranto proper, and within minutes, you find yourself immersed in fields of crops and olive trees. This is a very fertile area, providing fruits and vegetables to the locals. It also makes for a lovely afternoon stroll.As we were walking, a couple passed us in their car. The car stopped a few feet ahead of us, and they got out. We began to talk, and before we knew it, they invited us onto their property to see an ancient colombaio they had found. Back in the city, there were still a few things that I wanted to see.Built on top of a tufo outcrop, the Church of the Madonna dell’Altomare is hard to miss. I found the uneven pavement, in front of the entrance to the church, to be quite interesting.Luckily for me, La Chiesa di San Pietro was open. Built in the 9th century, this is a small but very beautiful church, and some say, the oldest church in the city. What really sets this church apart from others are the lovely frescoes that date back from the 10th century, that adorn the 3 apses. Having a few hours left before dinner, we got back into the car and set off in search of a few more menhirs and dolmens, which were supposed to be in the nearby towns.
Next up: Monopoli!
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!