Otranto Travel GuideEdit This The best resource for sights, hotels, restaurants, bars, what to do and see
In more recent times land-improvement, the disappearance of malaria and the use of irrigation schemes has permitted agriculture to flourish again, and today the district produces vegetables, cereals and forage. The latter crop has made it possible to rear substantial herds of cows. Fishing is also an important productive industry here.
The port is very busy, especially because of the ferry service to Greece, and tourism and seaside holidays are constantly developing, because of the very fine beaches and the constantly developing, because of the very fine beaches and the constantly improving hotel facilities.
Despite the destructions it has undergone, Otranto has preserved a very well-defined historic centre, which has particular charm because of the southern character of its houses painted with bright colours, and enclosed within the circle of the fortifications which face on to the southern side of the natural harbour.
The modern town, on the other hand, has mainly grown up along the coast and in the immediate hinterland, towards the hills of Monte Carlo Magno and Minerva, beautiful panoramic position from which the whole city below is overlooked together with the channel which bears its name. This channel is 70 kilometres wide, and runs between Cape Otranto and Cape Linguetta in Albania.
Of the Greek and Roman ages, all that is left to the town is a small number of stones in the doorway of the Casa Arcella. Some of the columns in the Cathedral probably come from the vanished temple dedicated to Minerva. The Cathedral built in 1080-88, is rich in eastern influence both in its architecture and its decoration. It was restored in 1481 after the ravages of the Turks, and recently it has been stripped of its baroque overlay and returned to its original form. A little way away from the town are the Gothic remains of the church of San Nicola di Casole, built in the fifth to seventh centuries, and destroyed by the Turks in their 1480 occupation.
The Alfonsina Tower dates from 1483, and the greater part of the turreted Walls and the castle also date from the fifteenth century. The castle was built by Ferdinand of Aragon between 1485 and 1498; it has a square plan with cylindrical towers at the corners, and it is partly surrounded by the traditional moat. The doorway on the left hand side of the Cathedral and the octagonal well in the courtyard of the adjacent seminary date from the Renaissance period. The Church of San Francesco di Paola (or Santa Maria dei Martiri) which was built as 8 memorial to the citizens massacred by the Turks in the 1480's dates from the sixteenth century.