An overnight passage messes with our body clocks, especially when it’s just one night and we can’t get into a watch system rhythm, so we usually need a day of rest to recover. The harbour of Otranto was perfect for an afternoon nap – the sea was calm and a beautiful aquamarine blue, the sun was shining and you’d think it might have been easy to drop off. But no. Our bad timing meant we had arrived on the day that a mini dredger was sucking up sand and sending it along a pipe to top up the beach. It filled the whole harbour with a loud rumbling for most of the afternoon. Once they finished the silence really was beautiful.
After a great nights sleep we were refreshed ready for exploring. The old town is delightful for wandering around it’s traffic free, cobbled alleys lined with tourist shops, even including a mosaic studio and a glass art shop amongst the usual wares.
We visited the cathedral for a look at the amazing mosaic floor. It covers the entire church floor and was finished in 1165 – for something that has had countless feet tread on it over nearly 900 years, it’s in incredibly good condition. It depicts the tree of life including such legends as King Arthur with some very interesting pictures and creatures depicted. The designers certainly had vivid imaginations. I wanted to move all the pews covering the pictures to get a better look at the whole thing but I imagine it would have been frowned upon.
In a rather macabre corner of the cathedral is the memorial to the ‘martyrs of Otranto’. In 1480 the Turks invaded and beheaded 800 citizens for refusing to convert to their religion. The skulls of the victims now gaze out at visitors.
Winding our way along the twisty, cobbled streets brought us to the castle. It was only €3 for a look inside so we went in. We were pretty disappointed that there were no signs at the entrance telling us the castle was being refurbished as there wasn’t much to see other than a lot of freshly painted, empty rooms, some with the added spectacle of wires hanging down from the light fittings. The views were good but not worth €3.
After lunch we walked around the marina and on out to the broken watchtower to the south of the town. From a certain angle and with one eye shut it looked a bit like Glastonbury Tor. The countryside was a riot of wildflowers and butterflies as we followed the dirt tracks out along the coast. It was great to see some colour after the dryness of Malta.
How was the Anchorage?
Anchored in 4.5m in sand in position: 40 08.9’N 18 29.44’E
The holding was great and the water so clear we could see the anchor on the bottom. The wind whilst we were there was light and from the south east – there was a small swell entering around the arm of the harbour but we were sheltered well enough.
There was a small fishing boat harbour (that the locals choose to swim in rather than from the beach!) where we left our dinghy.
The usual services available from a small town – post office, supermarket, plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants. There is plenty to see in the old town.
Strong northerly winds were forecast and we didn’t want to get stuck so the next day we reluctantly left Otranto and pushed on for Brindisi. It was windless and flat calm which meant another motor. Approaching Brindisi harbour we were welcomed by rumbles from above but the rain was moving off north and we only suffered a few spots of rain.
We weren’t sure what to expect from the free to moor section of town quay as we’d been warned there was a regatta on and all the space was taken. It did look that way when we arrived with the whole quayside lined with stern to boats. We tried our luck anyway and saw a spot behind an alongside catarmaran just in front of the customs office. We jiggled our way in with some kind help from the Swiss man from the cat. They were there to check in, but it being a Sunday the office was closed. They’d been moved three times from other spots on the quay but finally were allowed to wait at the end. We noticed all the laid lines ended before where we were so crossed our fingers.
The berthing guys came along, they said we were ok to stay for a few days. Hurray! That left us free for a wander along the quay checking out the boats and the regatta festivities – a band was on later and there were a few tents selling food and of course that essential for your boat, a luxury car.
Brinidisi is at the end of the Appian Way, a Roman road that goes all the way to Rome and which was the location of Spartacus’s downfall. A column now marks the end with a flight of stairs running up to it, which we had a stomp up and down.
At the end of the quay was the paid for section of wall which is run by the Lega Navale. It wasn’t very nice – food stalls were set up behind it making the area noisy and dirty. We really hoped we didn’t have to move there.
Back at the boat we spotted some official looking men hanging around Emerald; our luck was on limited supply – we could stay that night but had to move in the morning as 50 more boats were arriving we were told. I’d like to have seen them squeeze in that many boats in a 13m space.
5th June: Otranto to Brindisi – 44nm travelled.
Mooring in position: 40 38.4’N 17 56.919’E
Winds light and from the south. Dry and sunny for most of the day, thunderstorms to the north of us.
Berthed alongside the town quay, close to the customs office. The quay is free to visitors, we just happened to visit when most of the quay was taken with regatta boats. It being a Sunday the locals were out perambulating the quay and although we felt a bit like goldfish, everyone was friendly and out enjoying looking at the boats.
A supermarket was 200m away from the boat, further up the street were banks, bakeries, cafes, etc.
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