Published: June 7th 2012June 5th 2012
Crypt located beneath the cathedral
Today was a work day. I tried to get something going but ended up waiting on Federico for some negative printing. Maybe tomorrow.
We had a tour of the cathedral by Paola and Martha. The cathedral is amazing and I plan to visit ever day, to gain a stronger connection. There is so much to see. I will describe some of it here today. The mosaic floor is just amazing (see earlier blog).
On this visit, the crypt was open. It is down a long stone staircase, below the main cathedral. It reminds me of Cordova, Spain, with its 42 marble columns that support arches and vaulted ceilings. Each column has a different capital (Ionian, Corinthian, Asiatic, Egyptian, Byzantine, Islamic, Syrian, Persian, etc.). They are so interesting! The frescoes were from the 11th
Another feature of the cathedral is the Chapel of the Dead. When the Turks invaded Otranto in 1480, they turned the cathedral into a mosque and they offered the Christians a choice: convert or off with your heads! 800 refused to convert and were decapitated. The bodies were abandoned in the open, and 13 months later the
Eve and Adam
Mosaic floor of cathedral... Eve's head is under a column!
bones were collected by the troops who freed Otranto under the Spanish monarch Alfonso d’Aragona. The bones are preserved today in 7 glass cases, and the decapitation stone is under the alter. There is a relic of preserved flesh in the cupboard! There are also 4 elaborately-carved columns dedicated to the martyrs outside that chapel.
More on the cathedral and it’s mosaic floor later.
Some of the Fellows went to dinner at Ristorante La Piglatta, a favorite of Paola’s. We shared an excellent a mashed garbanzo bean type dish which is typical of the area. I had the special pasta of the region, “orecchiette” (means "little ears"), with salmon and mushrooms in a cream sauce. Martha had the fish lasagna (not baked). We had a local white wine. Interestingly, there is more wine produced in this region than in Tuscany. Wine grapes have been grown since Roman times. (Where are the USA tourists???)
The moon was full and I tried again for a shot.
(more photos below)
There are more photos below