The mosaic floor of the Cathedral of Otranto is impressive: rarely you can see a document about medieval thought so well preserved and so complete.
Stories and colors will take by the hand to lead you in the medieval universe with a immediacy that no other work can boast.
The entire floor of the nave (50 meters by 15) is covered by the mosaic.
Among the branches of a huge tree of life the monk Pantaleone wanted to tell us the stories that marked his time: a message in a bottle that has gone through almost a thousand years of history to unravel under our astonished eyes.
There is represented all that was important for men 1160.
In the cathedral floor the men of the time found confirmation about everything was told by wandering preachers, repeated during the long winter evenings, passed from mouth to mouth to feed a need of stories perhaps more urgent than food.
Alongside the stories of the Bible are placed King Arthur, griffins, sirens two-tailed, Alexander the Great leading the chariot drawn by griffins, devils and Amazons, domestic and exotic animals with all the virtues, chess, jobs in the different months of the year ...
Not everything is easy to read: a lot of meanings - quite obvious for a man of the Middle Ages - are unknown to us. But this does not alter the charm of these images with a flavor abit naif but - we perceive it clearly - of great expressive power.
A real pity that a document of such beauty is partially covered by banks of the church!
Why not place the desks in the aisles and return to the work of monk Pantaleone all its imposing amazement? And maybe allow to faithful and visitors access to the mosaic without shoes (such as in the mosques): surely without shoes they would damage the mosaic much less of the heavy wooden benches ...