Sailing Holidays in Otranto

Otranto is a historic seaside town and port on the Adriatic coast of southern Italy, in the region of Puglia. It's a small place with a lovely holiday atmosphere, and makes a good destination for a day trip or a longer stay. The picture-perfect blue waters, white buildings and diving rocks make Otranto the frequent cover star of maps, books and articles about Puglia. The town is in the province of Lecce, and is close to the easternmost point of Italy. It is within the area known as the Salento, the tip of the peninsula which is the heel of Italy's boot. On a clear day it is possible to see over the Strait of Otranto to Albania. Like many of the local placenames, Otranto is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable. The name of Otranto is probably best known abroad for The Castle of Otranto, Horace Walpole's pioneering Gothic novel. However, the creepy castle of Walpole's imagination bears little resemblance to the more recent stolid fortress in the real Otranto. Like much of Puglia, Otranto has a colourful and mixed past. It was important as a Greek and then Roman port, called Hydruntum. Later it was ruled by the Byzantines, the Normans and the Aragonese. In 1480 the town was invaded by Turks, and 800 locals were executed for refusing to convert to Islam. The bones and skulls of the martyrs of Otranto are now stacked behind glass in the cathedral in a manner that would have satisfied Walpole's Gothic imagination.