The city of water: Otranto and its history

Historical wonders of Otranto in Salento

For the Greeks Otranto was a city of water, since they called it Hydrùs, that is “full of water”. Even today its territory is called Valle dell’Idro and many still call it Idrusa. In the history of Salento, it had little water, and the fertile plain of Otranto, with its river, had to be much more extensive than it is today, and its salt lakes, the marshes, and then the immense expanse of the sea, appear like a mirage.

Water everywhere, salt and sweet, and where there is water, you know, there is life. The great fortune of Otranto comes from its water resources. The river has made the plain cultivable and has also allowed the development of trade, by sea and by land. The Romans who perceived the potential, expanded the road network to improve exchanges in Salento.

The natural beauty of Otranto spreads over the centuries. Kings and princes lived here, they built the castle and marvelous churches and dozens of towers on the coasts and majestic residences in the countryside. Foreign cultures also desired it, so many people have met and meet on its shores.

Legends explain natural phenomena joining them to history. We are talking about the so-called source of Charlemagne, a source of water that would have been born of divine intervention, when Charlemagne, who had passed there, had the need to satisfy his thirst. Charlemagne perhaps has never been to Otranto, but the English, yes, during the Great War, and they built the first aqueduct of Salento, now a destination for hikers and speleologists.

In this aquatic idyll we will soon add a piece, when the Water Cycle Route will be completed, an impressive project dedicated to lovers of nature and biking, which will cross Puglia from North to South, following the path of the Apulian Aqueduct. We, people of Salento, cannot wait.

Talete said that the principle of all things is water; Where there is water there is no lack of wealth and luck. Otranto, kissed by the sea, crossed by the Idro, which is reflected in the Alimini Lakes as a princess lying in its valley, is definitely our city of water.

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