Well, relatively undiscovered. Although there were a few other visitors and cameras about the place, Cisternino doesn't feature in many guidebooks. This has to be down to its proximity to Ostuni and villages with trulli like Martina Franca as the old town would certainly be picturesque enough to attract the sightseers anywhere else.
Cisternino is similar to Ostuni in its white-washed houses and warreny streets, crumbly buildings and a view down below. But it's even calmer here, almost silent. I am glad I went, even if getting there was harder than I'd ever imagined...
"Journey to Cisternino"
Cisternino was the beginning of a couple of days of logistical headaches. It all looks so easy from the train timetables - plenty of trains from Bari, our starting point, to both Cisternino and Ostuni. Many trains between the latter two, and only an eight-minute journey. I'd planned a leisurely first day, stopping in Ostuni for lunch before continuing to Cisternino and finally the pool at our hotel. Them the next day, we'd spend the whole day in Ostuni.
It was not to be.
We arrived at Ostuni station to find the town high on a hill, separated from us by a motorway. We had an hour to wait until the train to Cisternino and ended up eating in an industrial area. Finally got to Cisternino to find that the station was even worse than Ostuni's - far from Cisternino and our hotel, which was in another village. A lift and a 30 euro taxi ride later, we were at the hotel (to find the pool up another hill, horribly out of reach) and waiting for a bus to take us to the town.
Well, what I can say is that Cisternino is lovely when and if you arrive, and if you are either better-organised, probably taking the bus from the beginning, or have a car, you'll have no trouble at all.
Walk up through the modern town from the bus stop to the older centre and it's another world. The traffic, noise and grime gives way to real peace. The park has views down the hillside of towns below and the walls of the old city. It's a great shaded spot to stop for a while, and obviously the favoured meeting place for the older residents who were out in force when we visited.
Heading back into the white streets, the main piazza has a bar with ice-creams and cocktails where you can enjoy relaxing in one of Italy's truly undiscovered historic towns. And we spent a good few hours exploring the streets off to the sides of the square. Like Ostuni, they are still largely inhabited, but unlike that town there are far fewer visitors, giving it a very authentic feel.
We wandered for hours. Wandering through the side streets, always ending back in the same square.
It was finally time to get the bus back to Casalini and we came out of the old quarter into the new streets, which were starting to get lively ahead of the evening passeggiata. Shops were open now and we saw that the town has some great stores selling local latticini - dairy products - meat and other food.