After three full days of cooking at the castle, the day off for sightseeing in Otranto is usually a very welcome break in the action. From Lecce we just take a taxi there, but from Spongano, you board this funky train to Maglie…

…And connect to this equally funky train to Otranto. From there, it’s amazing how fast 7 hours can go by.

Oohing and ahhing over the gorgeous blue green sea of the Adriatic.

Enjoying our picnic lunch of leftover meatloaf sandwiches, wine, cheese, and fruit on the pier near the water.

Pondering a swim.

And then deciding to take a short nap instead.

Wandering in to the small historic center of Otranto (now a UNESCO world heritage site).

And peering out to try to imagine the invasion by the Turks and what that meant to the thousands who lived here.

Climbing to the top to see the views…

…and listening to Silvestro share history about the region.

Marveling at the Dali style art atop this roof in town.

And then getting ready to enter the church.

The mosaic floor is the largest in Europe, and the ceiling is equally impressive. I can’t possibly do it justice here, nor can I adequately convey the history and meaning behind it. You just need to add this to your list of must see places in the world.

What I can share is that 800 Christians were martyred here in a single day after the Turks invaded, and the skulls are kept here in honor.

Isn’t this organ cool?

There is a chapel downstairs with one of the more rare black Madonnas in it. And there’s lots of shopping in Otranto when you finish seeing the historical sites. As we sipped our beers, soft drinks, and late afternoon espresso macchiatos, I couldn’t help but snap a few photos of these adorable little sisters playing and chatting along the water’s edge.

Don’t you just love people watching when you are on vacation?