Gallipoli to Otranto - Early spring in southern Italy - CycleBlaze

May 19, 2006

Gallipoli to Otranto

It is sunny and hot. Today as we head east away from the Ionian coast we pass through orchards of olive trees, lemon trees, parasol pines and cypress on the way to Alezio, Sannicola and Galatina.

Once in Galatina, we spend some time in the shade quenching our thirst. Too long because while we refresh ourselves, the church bells ring twelve and the doors of the Romanesque church of Santa Caterina d'Alessandria are closed to all visitors until four. We can admire the portal and rose window but are denied entrance to the interior with its famous frescoes. Looking back, I realize we should have hung around four hours until the church opened, the frescoes would have been worth it. But we were impatient.

The church of Santa Catarina in Galatina
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Now as we continue, on either side of the road are groves of ancient gnarled olive trees, planted far apart in symmetrical rows, only olive trees for miles and miles.

Olive groves on the way to Otranto
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It's been a hot day and in Otranto we take the first hotel we look at - a good choice. Hotel Albánia, Swiss run, with a coffee-bar and terrace on the top floor overlooking the Adriatic, is a good reason to stay in Otranto another day.

View from hotel, Otranto
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In the evening we take a stroll to the castello, a very impressive site with a protecting wall surrounding the historical center of Otranto. The town has a prosperous air about it and it seems much has been invested in restoring the old part of town. To judge by the number of souvenir stalls on the main street, Otranto is obviously full of tourists in the summer months.

Otranto
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Today's ride: 60 km (37 miles)
Total: 366 km (227 miles)

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