The city of Otranto is the easternmost Italian municipality in Italy, it is now known internationally for tourism and accommodation thanks to its coasts and intense blue sea. Historically Otranto is also sadly famous for the Turkish occupation of 1480 and for the trail of blood they left there.
On July 28, 1480, 18,000 Ottomans, with a fleet of 150 ships, moved towards the Salento town with the intention of sacking and conquering it. After an exhausting resistance by the inhabitants of Otranto who did not want to surrender, the Turks took possession of the village, committing all sorts of cruelties. 800 brave men, now saints, after refusing to convert to Islam, were beheaded on the hill of Minerva.
The Saracens remained in the city for a year, until the Aragonese entered the town and liberated it. But Otranto now retained very little of its old charm. The abbey of Casole had been destroyed, as well as commerce and the Cathedral. A reconstruction was urgently needed and the Aragonese were immediately aware of it. They immediately set to work, putting the Cathedral and the walls back on their feet. The convents of the Dominicans, of San Francesco and of the observers were rebuilt and, at the end of the 14th century, that of the Capuchins.
Otranto is also home to the Cathedral mosaic floor that the monk Pantaleone, belonging to San Nicola di Casole, executed on commission from the Bishop of Otranto, between 1163 and the 1165. which represents one of the most important mosaic cycles of the Italian Middle Ages. An extraordinary and grandiose work, animated by a sense of horror vacui due to the compositional flair that runs through it, and has been compared to an encyclopedia of images of the time and culture of the Middle Ages. It does not seem to find equivalents, in terms of complexity and level of elaboration, with other contemporary mosaics.