A few weeks ago, my family and I were in Italy for a wedding. While I had previously spent time in Rome and Venice, this was my first time in Puglia, a region in the south of Italy. I immediately fell in love with the region and the province of Lecce where, aside from our day in Milan, we spent all of our time.
On our first full day, we took a bus ride to explore the area, and even though it was a rainy day, it was still as beautiful and charming as ever. Otranto was our first stop, and the city easily made its way into my heart.
Wandering around, I didn’t realize the history that was buried within the walls of the city. In the late 1400’s, Otranto was invaded by the Ottoman Empire, and over eight hundred people were beheaded, in what sounds like an episode of Game of Thrones. Looking back, it’s almost hard to imagine such violence happening in such a picturesque location, one that I strolled around with no realization of the history.
Instead, for me, it brought back happy memories of the towns and cities I visited while in Croatia. It was special in its own way, but in my mind, it was funny to be on the other side of the Adriatic Sea in a place that didn’t feel all that far from Croatia and my family’s roots.
We didn’t have much time to wander the city streets, but we made the best of it by shopping and making time for gelato. With gelato in hand, I happily continued soaking up as much beauty as I could; there was so much to see and take in.
Too quickly, it was time to head back to the bus, but since we were visiting for a special occasion, we decided to stop for some prosecco and toasted our new friends and our time in Italy. I knew from that moment that the weekend was going to be a memorable one.
Our time in Otranto may have been short, and not ideal in the rain, but it did leave me wanting more, I wanted to wander down each street, exploring the city further. But, what we did see left a big enough impression that I know one day I will make my way back.