Otranto – Castro
Tour Duration: 6 hours
(subject to change)
- 10:00 am
Tour includes 3 swimming stops
Complimentary generous appetizer offered onboard
Toilet and shower
Tours require a minimum of 20 passengers
Advice on what to bring and how to dress
- Beach attire (swimsuit and towel)
- Snorkeling masks and fins (available onboard, but in limited quantities)
- Prepare for windy days by packing a change of clothes (in September especially, it is advisable to bring a sweater or waterproof vest)
A beautiful 6-hours excursion onboard the comfortable and well-equipped “Hydra” boat. We depart from the port of Otranto and head south along the Adriatic to visit a stretch of the Salento coast that will surprise visitors with its uncontaminated cliffs, its colors and its profound turquoise and blue sea.
The first place we will admire from the sea is “Otranto”. One of the most popular tourist attractions in Puglia, Otranto is home to roughly 5,600 inhabitants and is the location of Greek-Messapic and Roman ancient center, then Byzantine and later on Aragonese, which developed around the city’s imposing castle and Norman cathedral. The archbishop’s seat as well as a vibrant tourist center, inspired the names of “Canale d’Otranto” and “Terra d’Otranto”, located in an ancient district of the Kingdom of Naples. Given its historical value, it should come as no surprise that Otranto was officially recognized as a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site in 2010. The city is a proud member of the “I borghi più belli d’Italia”, “The most beautiful villages in Italy” club.
Outside the town of Otranto, we arrive at our first stop: “Torre del Serpente” (Serpent Tower), an important city-symbol represented in the town’s coat of arms and flag. Both emblems depict a serpent wrapped around the famous tower.
Continuing on with the tour, we will pass “Baia Palombara”, a bay which gets its name from the many pigeons that nest in the surrounding caves (‘palombi’ means ‘pigeon’ in Salento dialect, thus the name ‘Palombara’). The tour proceeds onto “Punta Facì”, known for its hidden underwater caves, and then to “Baia delle Orte” where you can observe the unique crystal blue and emerald green waters. Visitors will be treated to a swimming stop at “Bay of Orte” where the sea’s sandy bottom mingles with lush vegetation and rich bauxite-clay, extracted from local quarries since the 1940s. “Lake Bauxite” is located in the center of the quarry, surrounded by pine wood and Mediterranean flowers native to the region.
Navigating past the bay and beach, we arrive at the easternmost point of Italy, “Capo d’Otranto”, where visitors may gaze upon the “Faro della Palascia”. On January 1st, this famous lighthouse attracts tourists from all over the world eager to witness the first sunrise of the New Year. Faro della Palascia” is located on the 40th parallel and constitutes a geographical division between the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea. Not far off, just 74 kilometers away, is the Albanian coast. From the Idruntina Coast, visitors can gaze at the mountains along the Albanian Coastline.
The tour continues on to “Sant’Emiliano”, a coastal tower overlooking the sea which give the name at the island of rocks, near which it is located. It is one of the many lighthouses dotted along the coast of Salento. Before to arrive near Porto Badisco, we will pass by “Grotta dei Cervi”, one of the most spectacular Neolithic caves in all of Europe. Inside the cave, there are famous ancient cave drawings painted from a mixture of bat guano and red ocher clay. Grotta dei Cervi (meaning “Grotto of the Deer”) is best known for the abstract images of animals, hunters and deer that adorn its walls. These pictograms date back to the Neolithic period!
Continuing with our tour there is “Porto Badisco”, located in the southern region of Otranto (10 kilometers from the city center). Nestled among the rocks and towards the end of the canal, “Porto Badisco” is the only beach from Santa Maria di Leuca to Otranto. This beach is said to be the landing spot of Aeneas (the mythical Trojan warrior in Virgil’s epic poem, Aeneid) when he fled Troy.
Continuing on with our tour, we arrive at “Santa Cesarea Terme”, a coastal town known for its healing mineral waters and mud-clays. These mineral waters flow from four separate caves. Past the summer marina “Porto Miggiano”, we encounter the first cave, “Grotta Romanelli”, known for its ancient graffiti from the upper Paleolithic period in Italy. Next, we pass by “Grotta della Zinzulusa”, an important representation of the Karst phenomenon in Salento. This cave gets its name from the many stalactites and stalagmites (called ‘zinzuli’ in Salento dialect) that adorn its walls, giving off the appearance of hanging cloths. From “Grotta della Zinzulusa”, we travel in the direction of Castro where visitors will encounter 3 different caves: “Grotta Azzurra”, named after the water’s cobalt blue color, the result of light refraction against the rock walls, “Grotta Rotundella” and “Grotta Palombara”, which gets its name from the pigeons nestled in between the ravines.
The last stop to admire on our tour is “Castro”, an ancient Roman city now known as a bathing and fishing village. Castro’s city-center was built on a promontory called “Casciu de Susu” while its marina was created around a harbor called “Casciu de Sutta” or “Casciu marina”.
The three stops along the route are interwoven between several bays. During one of the stops, visitors are invited to a generous appetizer of produce and cuisine native to the region. Afterwards, we will return to the port of Otranto.