Religious festas and fairs

Festa dei Santi Martiri di Otranto

The ceremonies start in the Cathedral on the 31st of July, with the solemn exposure of the Martyrs' urn. As the Martyrs are the patrons of the town and of the archdiocese of Otranto, the 13 days before the festa are sincerely celebrated by the Vicarie ( pastoral areas). Each Vicaria is present and is in charge of one of the evenings that form the "tredicina", the thirteen days before the festa.
The 13th of August is completely dedicated to the civil commemorations of the slaughter of Otranto.

Festa dei Santi Martiri

Early in the evening the mayor, the archbishop, the civil, military and religious authorities lead a procession that starts at the town hall and ends at the "Monument", in Piazza degli Eroi. After having laid a wreath, a commemorative speech is delivered.
Late in the evening, the young meet on the hill of the martyrdom where they pray all night long.
On the 14th of August, at 11 a.m., the solemn mass takes place in the Cathedral, celebrated by the Archbishop and with the participation of all authorities and citizens.
In the afternoon the procession takes place; the urn containing the holy relics of the martyrs is carried along the streets of Otranto by the priests of the diocese of Otranto.
In the evening Otranto becomes very lively. Then, after midnight, the suggestive firework show takes place on the sea.


Festa di San Francesco da Paola

On the 2nd of April San Francesco da Paola is celebrated, but the festa takes place on a Sunday in the month of May, and each year the date changes.
The triduum is celebrated one year in the Cathedral and the following year in the Church of Immaculate Virgin; at the end of the ceremonies the simulacrum is transferred to the Church of Santa Maria dei Martiri.

San Francesco da Paola

On the Sunday, then, there is the festa dedicated to the saint with a procession that starts from the hill of the Martyrs and ends near Porta Terra. Here, according to an ancient rite that goes back to the 17th century, the mayor of Otranto gives the key of the town to the saint.
Back in the Cathedral, the mass is celebrated by the bishop at the presence of all authorities. The homily is made by one of the priests ordained during the year.
For the occasion, all the area of "Minerva" becomes very lively.
In the evening, then, there is a display of fireworks.


Festa della Madonna dell'Altomare

La processione a mare

On the first Sunday of September, Otranto dedicates a festa to the Madonna dell'Altomare.
The church of the Madonna dell'Altomare, a real little jewel built on a cliff facing the sea, becomes on that day the spiritual center of the town and symbol of the whole town identity.
On the Sunday morning, all the celebrations take place in the chapel of the Madonna dell'Altomare and, in the afternoon, the solemn mass is celebrated by the bishop in the square situated below the chapel.
The fishermen from Otranto bring the statue of the Virgin on the square for the mass and, after, to the "Fascio" rock where it will be embarked.
The procession at sea starts. The fishing boat hosting the sacred statue is escorted by some sailors who also receive a wreath that will be thrown at sea in memory of all its victims.
The fishing boat, followed by many other boats, carries the simulacrum of the Madonna towards the port. After a short sailing, everyone disembarks and the procession goes back to the chapel.
As usual, there are glittering illuminations and fireworks at the end of the evening.


Solennità della Natività di Maria

This is a very important festivity for Otranto, as it recalls the sad events that took place in 1480, year when the Turks conquered the town.
The Ottomans stayed in the town for almost one year, until Otranto was set free by the Aragonese, on the 8th of September 1481.
But something extraordinary happened, that is at the origin of this festa.
When the Saracens left the town, they took away with them a small statue of Our Lady that, due to its colour, seemed to be a golden statue.
This statue was kept by the Turks until the wife of an aristocratic Saracen, who had serious problems in giving birth to her child, was advised to return the statue of the Virgin to the town of Otranto. In doing this, she would have overcome her problem. So the woman immediately threw the small statue in the sea and she soon felt better.
The Virgin came back to Otranto floating on the waves.
For this reason the Pope of those days granted the plenary indulgence ( the remission of sins and punishments) to all the people that on the 8th of September would have took part to the mass and to the Holy Communion in the Cathedral of Otranto.
This religious tradition is still alive today.

Alba dei Popoli

La Piazza nella serata del 31 dicembre

 "Alba dei Popoli" is a festival inspired by the symbolic power of the New Year "first smile of the sun" on Italy. The first light arriving from the East shines upon this extreme border of Europe.
The festival had its first edition in 1999 and in all these years many international artists and intellectuals have taken part. For example Goran Bregovic, Franco Battiato, Edoardo Bennato, Vinicio Capossela, Nicola Piovani, Lou Reed, Pino Daniele, Mario Biondi, Roy Paci can be mentioned; among the film-directors Ferzan Ozpetek, Emir Kusturica, Manuel Prada can be remembered as well as numerous representatives of the Mediterranean countries. Every year during Christmas time, the Town of the Martyrs organizes the festival that lasts almost one month, and remembers that the first light of the new year arrives on Italy from Salento and from Otranto.

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Night Pink

Event dedicated to women between meetings, music, exhibitions, literature and fashion shows.


Otranto Jazz Festival

Expression of jazz music: classical and popular, earthy and nomadic, black and white, urban and rural, traditional and contemporary, emotional and intellectual.


Otranto Film Fund Festival

European cinema in dialogue with local communities. OFFF offers interesting productions with the support of the Film Commission and local public funds.


Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul

The old town is home to the party. Food stands, exhibitions and music.

Weekly market

weekly market

Every Wednesday, from 7.30 to 12.30 in the morning, the market takes place in Otranto on the parking of Via Calamuri, behind the chapel of the Madonna del Passo. Here many different goods can be found.
The hawkers sell baskets and articles made in natural fibres, flowers and plants.
There are also stalls where to buy food ( local dairy products and delicatessen) and articles for the house ( crockery and soaps).
Fresh fruit, vegetables and local pottery can be purchased.
Many stalls selling clothes, shoes, bags and materials can be found, as well as some stalls selling second-hand goods .



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