Guide to Ostuni Puglia
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Oh, Ostuni! I left a little bit of my heart in this “white city” of Puglia, Italy, set atop a hill, shimmering as you approach it.
Just 8 km from, and overlooking, the Adriatic Sea, this fortress town oozes history and white-washed charm. If you were suddenly transplanted here without being told where you were, you might just think you were in Greece. The white is so white, the pops of color all the more brighter because of it. In fact, at one point, the town was Greek, with the name deriving from the Greek word Astu neon, which means “new town”, when the Greeks had overtaken and re-built it.
The city eventually became part of the county of Lecce (you can read my post on the city of Lecce here), and is very easy to get to from Lecce via train. We happened to stay at a Masseria (working farm) outside of Ostuni and visited by way of car. The Ostuni region is known for its masserias, so it’s well worth a look into if you’re visiting the area. The farmland, olive groves, lemon trees, and florals make it a beautiful area to explore, as well as producing excellent farm to table food.
However, one may prefer to stay right in town at one of its hotels or apartments, which I would have equally enjoyed as well. For Ostuni is a rambling mish-mash of streets, a maze of sorts, just waiting to be discovered and get lost in. It’s a town for adventurers, those who like to seek out the next corner, the next pocket, the next little alley way. There’s no need to attempt a map, just walk and wander and see what you find.
What to do in Ostuni Puglia
Ostuni is a spider web of streets, and it’s beautiful. Sparkly white cobbled lanes lead into precious restaurants. Pathways wind in and around blue-windowed homes. Stairs lead up to little inlets overlooking the sea; to piazzas with vistas; to botanical-ladened homes with the wash drying atop. It’s impossible to know what each turn will bring, and every time it’s a well-earned surprise.
The best thing you can do is just walk around Ostuni. Up, down, and around, there are little gems awaiting you everywhere. “Old Town” is the historical part of town, and where the mesh of white-washed buildings and weaving streets can be found. The Ostuni Cathedral is a gorgeous building in the heart of the old town, or centro storico, and the surrounding piazza is a pleasant area to take a café break. The café right next to the cathedral offers delicious baked goods and gelato.
There are some really lovely restaurants in and throughout Ostuni with the prettiest floral decorations in front, charming entry-ways with tunnels of roses, vintage bicycles, and detailed touches. Some restaurants almost look like homes, until you see the sign and realize it’s not another impossibly quaint home, but a café waiting to be enjoyed and relaxed in.
As you make your way around and down the streets of Ostuni, with snippets of the Adriatic here and there, you will eventually come to the city walls as you get closer to the blue sea. Ostuni is a fortress town, after all, and when you see the large, imposing walls you will be all too reminded of a history passed. You can just picture this picture-perfect town as a medieval fort, far different from its picturesque days of present.
Ostuni is located in a convenient part of Puglia, close to the ocean for beach day trips, as well as many of the other popular towns to visit, including Lecce, Alberobello, and another impossibly beautiful white-washed town, Locorotondo. Another white gem!
I highly recommend a visit to Ostuni. It’s small enough to be explored on a day trip, yet beautiful enough to be wallowed in on a weekend. This is not a place to be rushed, as you want to enjoy every small street, every crevice and every corner that leads to another courtyard, flower-lined alley, or scenic piazza.