Orte Bay is near the town of Otranto on south-east of coast of the Salento peninsula in Puglia. The bay is a tranquil paradise for anyone who loves the sea and unspoiled nature.
Orte bay is is like a huge swimming pool set in the midst of spectacular scenery. The colors of the Mediterranean shrubs typical to the Puglia region of Italy create eye catching reflections in the bay’s crystal clear Adriatic waters.
On one side of the bay is the white Palascìa lighthouse. On the other, there is the green pine forest that ends near the ancient bauxite quarry. This quarry is like a resembles a lunar landscape, or almost. There is also the recently restored Serpent Tower, a welcome landmark for sailors seeking the safe haven of Otranto’s harbor.
One of five lighthouses of the Mediterranean Sea protected by the European Commission, has been recently renovated. It is often visited by curious tourists, thanks to the tradition that every year, New Year’s Eve draws a crowd of people waiting for the dawn of the ne-year at the foot of the lighthouse, being the first dawn of the new year in Italy.
Under the nautical conventions this place is the point of separation between the Ionian and the Adriatic Sea. The site is also home to the Otranto-Punta Palascia meteorological station, which is officially recognized by the World Meteorological Organization.
Orte Bay is bounded to the south by Punta Palascìa (or Capo d’Otranto), which the highest point in eastern Italy and according to the nautical convention is the boundary between the Ionian and Adriatic Sea. The Balkan coastline is no further than 70 km away and on cooler days or at dawn it is possible to catch a glimpse of the mountains of Albania, as well as the Greek islands of Corfu and Seseno.
On your way back from Orte Bay, why not stop off for an evening in Otranto?
Puglia has many lovely places to explore and Oltranto should be on your list. The coastal scenery with its beaches and cliffs is stunning, and then there is Otranto with its atmospheric historical centre. Otranto is full of interesting sights to stumble upon whilst wandering through the town’s maze of narrow streets and passages. The cathedral and the medieval castle are not to be missed.
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Don’t Miss the Bauxite Quarry!
Amongst the interesting inland places worth seeing in the area between Otranto and Punta Palascìa, is a magical place: the old bauxite quarry.
In the former quarry pit a lake with striking green emerald water has slowly formed. The lake owes the color of its water to the bauxite.
The contrast between the dark red walls of the lake and its bright green water is well worth seeing. Photographers will find it fascinating.
A small independent ecosystem has formed in and around the lake, which despite its manmade origins has been slowly reclaimed by nature.
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If you do visit this quarry to see its enchanting lake and you go with small children, make sure they stay a safe distance away from the water.
How to Get to Orte Bay by Car (or Bicycle):
Take the number 16 Lecce to Maglie road which leads to Otranto and the Adriatic coast, and you will arrive close to the town.
Instead of following the signs for the city center, continue along the coastal road which leads from Otranto. After driving through breathtaking scenery and following a series of winding roads, you will come to Santa Maria di Leuca.
At Santa Maria di Leuca, turn left towards the harbor, then take the dirt road on your right – where you will see a large white sign saying “Orte”. The road leads downhill and heads straight for Orte Bay.
What to Do in Orte Bay:
In addition to swimming and sunbathing, a range of sporting activities are available throughout the year at Orte bay.
Diving: Explore the seabed and its caves. See Diving Paradise for more information. http://www.divingparadise.it
Fishing: The waters of Orte Basy are teeming with fish. You’ll find amberjack, tuna, snapper, leccie, bream, garfish, bream, sea bream, sea bream, and octopus. Fishing permits may be required.
Hiking: Walkers will love the area. If you can read Italian, see Trekking Salento
Other links of Interest:
Town of Otranto – all about Otranto’s history, places to visit and local events.
Department of Parks and Natural Reserves of Puglia.
With great thanks to Francesca Colucci of the Cultural Heritage Management Master for supplying the information and for drafting an article on Orte Bay and Otranto.
This article is part of a series on interesting, but not well-known, sights in Italy. The contents are the result of a classroom project conducted by students attending the Cultural Heritage Management Master of Il Sole 24 Ore’s Business School.
Photographs used in good faith. If you are the owner of one or more photographs used and object to their use, please contact Italy Chronicles to request their removal. Italy Chronicles will happily credit whoever took the photos.