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May 20, 2006

Otranto and excursion in the surroundings, 40 km

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 (1166) representing 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

Another interesting detail: On display in the church are the remains of the 800 townspeople massacred by the Turk Ahmed Pasha in 1480 for having refused to recant their Christian faith.

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 and then inland to have a look at some menhirs and dolmens strewn in the countryside. 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 the southeast winds will be a blessing.


a type of megalithic tomb, usually consisting of three or more upright stones supporting a large flat horizontal capstone

and menhir

a large, single upright standing stone (monolith or megalith) of prehistoric origin

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