Along the Salento coast, at the easternmost tip of the Heel of Italy, Otranto looks like a fortress on the sea. About 50 kilometres from Lecce, the city walls and honey-coloured houses glisten in the sunshine amidst the olive trees and wild coastline fringed with long coastlines and coves.
Listed among the Most Beautiful Villages in Italy, Otranto is a city to be discovered without haste, thanks to its unique historical and architectural heritage.
In 20 kilometres of coastline, there is a succession of bays, long stretches of light-coloured sand, coves hidden in rocky ravines where you can discover yourself even in high season. And then in Otranto the sea always offers unpredictable colours.
Walk along the Kennedy promenade to lay your towel on the Scaloni beach, while two other city beaches are Cala dei Normanni and the Idruntini beach.
Starting from the Haethehy Riviera and driving north, you will come across the Faro della Punta lighthouse, which heralds the view of Porto Craulo beach and Castellana lido. Swimming is also possible at the Lido della Staffa and in the enchanting inlet of the Canale del Caafaro, not far away.
From here on, the rocky coast offers a succession of caves, small bays and coves. Such as San Pietro dei Canali, in the area of the Cerra farm.
For snorkelling, the ideal place is the Grotta Monaca roadstead, with its crowded seabed and crystal clear sea. While by boat, you can explore the coast to the north, between Sapunerò and Mulino d'Acqua, which is all sheer cliffs, sandy seabed and calm sea that looks almost like a swimming pool.
Continuing on, you come to Murrune, a striking ridge that owes its name to the nearby farmhouse, and then the Bay of Santo Stefano, the Porticeddhi beaches and the Toraiello cove.
To the north lies the Laghi Alimini lagoon, two sheets of water close to the sea, fringed with pine trees and beaches on the coast that create a unique panorama.
If you want to relax on the white dunes plunging into turquoise water, five kilometres further on you will discover the Baia del Sole, also part of the Laghi Alimini protected area, where there are also equipped lidos. Further north are the clear shores of Torre dell'Orso, a crescent of white sand caressed by long, foaming waves. Far away, amidst the Mediterranean scrub, the cliffs resume, and the eye runs as far as the Due Sorelle stacks. Then there is San Foca, another pearl of the Melendugno marina.
The coast south of Otranto is wilder, with the Baia dell'Orte (Orte Bay), with rocks sloping gently into the sea, hiding small pebble coves, such as Porto Grande, which can be reached on foot. It is difficult to meet people here. The water is transparent and you can dive in with a mask and snorkel to admire the seabed.
Beyond Punta Palascia, the bay of Porto Badisco, famous for being considered the landing place of Aeneas fleeing from Troy, is known not only for its beaches, among the most beautiful on the Otranto coast, but also for the numerous caves hidden along the coast. Among these, there is that of the Cervi, decorated with rock images from prehistoric times. Then there are the swimming pools of Santa Cesarea Terme and the coast of Castro.
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