Otranto—a town of 6000—lies on Italy's boot heel about 50 miles across the Adriatic from Albania
The gem-like waterfront is the hub of social life in the city

Every so often you arrive in a new city you've heard little about, and come away excited about what a truly special place it is. That's how we felt late one afternoon last October when we ventured into Otranto—a small city of 6,000 near the tip of Italy's boot heel on the Adriatic. We were surprised and delighted to find one of the world's great waterfronts.

Seeing Otranto first from the deck of a small boat, we were struck by an almost perfect harbor protected by an extended breakwater. It was just a short stroll from the marina to the historic city, which was founded by the ancient Greeks and later became part of the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Napoleonic empires.  A fortress-like structure castle adds an atmospheric touch to a city that feels custom-made for walking and gazing out at the sea.

This promenade route in Otranto, Italy,  is almost a mile along the harborfront, with the opportunity for strollers to do shorter version for their daily passeggiata

A memorable waterfront promenade winds around the historic core, opening up into into a series of piazzas and streets alive with people.  

                  Shopping Street in Historic Core

                           The Central Piazza

Otranto excels at the admirable Italian custom of passeggiata—an evening stroll for the express purpose of seeing and being seen...Humans share a basic instinct to gather in groups seeking fun and strengthening social bonds.
People often make two or more trips up and down the waterfront, providing plentiful opportunities for talking, flirting and catching up on local gossip

          Central Park Bordered by Restaurants

              Main Entrance to Waterfront District              

This entranceway into to the center of the waterfront promenade allows people move quite quickly in either direction to get to their desired destination 

         Main Street and Waterfront Promenade

Looking back at the Historic Center and Park
The main area of the waterfront is a gateway to the beach and shops. Vehicles can use the streets only at certain times of day 

Social Life Project’s mission is to highlight what makes public spaces thrive, drawing from communities around the world. Social Life Project is one of two inaugural programs of our new non-profit the Placemaking Fund. Our second program is PlacemakingX, a global network of leaders who together will accelerate placemaking as a way to create inclusive, healthy, and beloved communities. To make the spaces we live into places we love.

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