bauxite lake otranto puglia © Will Travel for Food

Bauxite Lake in Otranto, Puglia {photo mrb404}

Otranto –> Lecce
50 kms / 1 hour 20 minutes
Stops: Torre Dell’Orso / Porto Badisco /
Lunch: Bar Da Carlo  / Dinner: Shui wine bar
Accommodation: Palazzo Personè Dimora Storica


The day started with a visit to the Otranto Cathedral and the 800-year old Tree of Life mosaic that covers the entire floor of the church. The elaborate black, white and gilded wooden ceiling that runs the length of the nave is equally impressive.

otranto cathedral puglia © Will Travel for Food

The intricate ceiling of the Otranto Cathedral {photo mrb404}

We then went back to Porto Badisco (which is only about a 15-minute drive from Otranto) for a great sea urchin lunch at bar Da Carlo. A fisherman sets up shop in the Da Carlo patio and sells sea urchin by the unit. Twenty five urchins cost us 10 euros. They are opened à la minute by the fisherman and his young son and served on a platter. You can order bread, salumi, cheese, wine and other local products inside the bar to accompany your sea urchin feast. It is a simple lunch but well worth the stop in Porto Badisco. Be aware that the fresh sea urchins run out by about 2pm so get there early. The road from Porto Badisco to Otranto goes through Cape Palascìa, most commonly known as Cape d’Otranto, Italy’s most eastern point. It’s where the Ionian Sea meets the Adriatic Sea and an absolutely gorgeous stretch of road.

best sea urchin porto badisco puglia © Will Travel for Food

Fresh seafood for lunch at Porto Badisco, Puglia

Our lunch at Porto Badisco was followed by a quick stop at the very photogenic and colourful bauxite lake of Cave di Otranto, an old quarry abandoned since 1976. The contrast of the red earth and the emerald green lake waters is breathtaking although there’s not much to do there except snap a photo. It is one of the most photographed spots in the Salento region.

lecce piazzo del duomo © Will Travel for Food

Lecce’s Piazza del Duomo {photo mrb404}

We then headed to Lecce, the main city in the Puglia peninsula commonly nicknamed the Florence of the South. If you’ve ever been to Florence, you’ll immediately understand why it’s often compared to its northern cousin. The city is filled with gorgeous and elaborate Baroque churches and monuments. Some of the most notable buildings include the Piazza del Duomo and the breathtaking Chiesa di Santa Croce with its impossibly intricate façade.

Dinner tonight was a simple affair of several aperitivi at Shui, a wine bar a stone throw away from the hotel. You’ll find several wine bars on Via Umberto I, all great for an early aperitivo or a light dinner paired with a local wine, like the great negroamaro rosé I had tonight. The menu includes several local specialties like fava e cicorie (fava been puree with wild chicory), fresh burrata and frisa (similar to bruschetta).

To read the rest of my Puglia road trip adventures, click here, and follow me on Instagram for more daily photos of my trip.

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