Otranto and surroundings - Early spring in southern Italy - CycleBlaze

May 20, 2006

Otranto and surroundings

To do Otranto justice we stay here another day. The cathedral in Otranto, Santa Maria Annunziata, is the main attraction. The church's floor is completely covered with a marvellous mosaic from 1166. It depicts a wealth of themes such as the tree of life, the seasons, biblical scenes and the signs of the zodiac.

Mosaic floor scene in the Cathedral of Otranto
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Another interesting detail: As the legend goes, 800 townspeople were massacred by the Turk Ahmed Pasha in 1480 for having refused to recant their Christian faith. Their remains are on display in the church.

Christian martyrs as preserved in the cathedral in Otranto
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There are truly many other sights worth visiting in Otranto, which we do. A half a day is hardly enough.

Nevertheless in the afternoon we get on our bikes and ride south down the coast to Porto Badisco. Again we have beautiful weather and since this is a round trip we don't mind the headwinds at the start too much, on our way back they will be a blessing.

Exploring the coast south of Otranto
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On the way home our route takes us inland on quiet roads through the countryside and small towns where we discover some menhirs and dolmens, where they have stood since their creation.

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Dolmen. A type of megalithic tomb, usually consisting of three or more upright stones supporting a large flat horizontal capstone
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Menhir. A large, single upright standing stone (monolith or megalith) of prehistoric origin
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Today's ride: 40 km (25 miles)
Total: 406 km (252 miles)

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