The walls of Ostuni city can be seen for miles around as they glisten white in the Italian sunshine. Nestled on top of a hill in Puglia, Southern Italy (the heel), Ostuni looks a little like a white fortress or some kind of fairy tale castle from a movie, due to the round shape of the city walls encircling the buildings. And Ostuni is steeped in history.
Often referred to as ‘The White Town’ (‘La Citta Bianca’ in Italian), the city of Ostuni has been through several re-inventions. Dating back to stone age, the town as it was then was ravaged during ancient wars and then re-built by the Greeks. After the fall of the Roman empire the Normans continued with the development of Ostuni and created the ‘old town’ as it is popularly referred to. This is the medieval part of the town that sits around the peak of the hill and includes much of the ancient architecture, remains of the castle, churches and the now famous city walls. While the Normans built this fortified town with security in mind, there is no getting away from the fact that the architecture is stunning. During the Italian Renaissance Ostuni was presided over by Isabella, The Duchess of Bari, who encouraged the expression of creativity, art and beauty within the city.
Ostuni is surrounded by olive groves near to the ocean, and really is a sight to behold as it glistens in the sun.
What To Do In Ostuni
For the main part you will enjoy exploring the historical ‘old town’ and visiting the cathedral, many churches, monuments, museums and architectural sites. Aside from that it can be delightful simply to explore the twisting and turning corridors and small alleys of the old town; you never know what you will find around the next corner. The view from the edge of the town at the top is simply breathtaking, you can see all the way to the nearby blue ocean. Of course you will want to stop for some Italian coffee at one of the small coffee bars or restaurants such as ‘Coffee and More’ where you will find an array of fresh Italian foods for tasting, along with a delicatessen. The food in Ostuni really is second to none. Accommodation ranges from the luxurious (La Sommita Relais & Spa) to the basic (Tropical Hotel) and prices will be totally dependent on the time of year you visit.
If you want to learn more about the agricultural history it is highly recommended to go to ‘Masseria Brancati’ where you can take a guided tour of some of the olive trees and an ancient, fortified farm. You will also taste some organic, extra virgin olive oil and you will see how the olives are processed.
Cycling is popular in and around Ostuni, with many of the streets in the old town being too narrow for cars. Add to that the surrounding, stunning countryside and it is easy to see why people enjoy cycling here. The coastline is also very pretty with some amazing beaches just a short drive from Ostuni.
Ostuni By Night
While Ostuni is delightful to explore by day, by night it comes alive. There are many bars and restaurants serving all kinds of food, from traditional products of Italy such as sumptuous fresh pasta and mouth watering pizza made the way only Italians know how, right through to Sushi. You will also find Italian cured ham, and fresh, locally grown olives, olive oil and wine. If the local wine is not quite to your taste you can try some champagne at The Pommery Club. With strong cultural and artistic influences in Ostuni you can always find some live music to listen to and in the summer the town becomes very busy.
Ostuni is well worth a visit if you are in the South of Italy.
By guest blogger Julie Ritchie