Puglia's stunning white hill town
Ostuni was the first destination we decided on during our impromptu Puglia trip; it leapt out of all the guides and leaflets with all their competing castles and trulli and picturesque towns as somewhere quite unique. It was.
Ostuni is not the easiest place to get to by public transport (we actually had two attempts at it*), but on both occasions the first sight of the brilliant white buildings against the sky was something special. On our first go, we saw the whole of the old town rising above the busy road leading to it, monumental on the hillside, and felt real frustration at the distance between us and it. On the second trip, we walked in from the bus stop through the nondescript modern town, and this time were thrilled once again to see the scale of the old town, now close up.
Once inside, Ostuni was no less impressive that it looked at first sight. It is a large town, with many, many winding white streets and staircases. You can get lost, and we did several times. Almost every corner brings something beautiful, whether it was a painted door, flowers or a carving in the wall, all set against the same whitewashed walls and yet each turn slightly different from the last.
* See my transport tip on Ostuni!
It is firmly on the tourist trail, as it deserves to be, and yet when I visited in July, Ostuni was peaceful. There are no tour groups and you can wander largely without hearing another foreign voice. The tourist appeal was mainly confined to the number of cafes offering granite (extremely welcome) and souvenir shops (not so welcome - could anyone want a purple-glittered trullo?).
As well as the streets and churches of Ostuni, we walked around the city wall, where it was truly quiet. Hardly anyone about, which was surprising as the walk is very worthwhile. Great views over the town to the sea below.