Ostuni gleams like a beacon on its prominent hilltop overlooking the olive groves of the trulli country and the azure sea where the Salento region begins. It is dubbed "the white city" and is one of Puglia's most charming towns. It retains its medieval character and looks like a circular fairyland spiraling around the hill.
Occupied since prehistory, it was the domain of local tribes in 11th century BC. It was destroyed by Hannibal and re-established by the Greeks who named it "Astu neo" or New Town. It was taken over by the Romans. From that point it was shuffled back and forth among various rulers until the Aragons, who ushered in a time of economic and cultural growth and prosperity.
Today's Ostuni has an upscale feel and vibrant buzz imparted by the proud and effervescent people who live there. There are loads of restaurants, smart cafes, and piazza-side tables for sipping local wine. The cuisine is excellent, given its position in the vegetable garden of Italy - Puglia is known for its fruits and produce. Vegetarians will be happy here with plethora of fresh-picked options; but seafood and grilled meats, as well as local lamb and rabbit are regional specialties, too. Puglia has a unique dining option that you don't find in most places - butcher shops that will grill your meat selection on the spot. The area's olive oil and wines are very good.
The historic center retains its medieval atmosphere with its network of narrow lanes meandering through white-washed buildings, past prestigious palaces, and opening into piazzas. The Cathedral crests the town in contrast to its community, a beige capstone on top of the white city. The Gothic-Romanesque church has a intricate rose decoration on the facade. The Baroque church of San Vito Martire is a decorative temple with fanciful frills just down the street from the Cathedral. The hub of the city is the Piazza della Liberta', a popular and charming public space.
The joy of Ostuni is discovering its back-alleys and pretty buildings as you wander the streets and absorb the atmosphere. There's plenty to see, and a lively buzz to enjoy. The clean beaches of the coast are just a few minutes away, and there are nearby nature preserves and horseback riding available to keep you entertained. It's located in the heart of Puglia, at the fringe of the trulli zone and the beginning of the Salento, near the interesting towns of Martina Franca, Locorotondo, Alberobello, and Brindisi, and is close to some of the best beaches of the region.
Been there? Done that? Share your experience and tips!
Haven't visited yet? Have questions about Ostuni? Ask them here!
Explore nearby towns
Located in the upper Salento of Puglia where it meets the popular Valle d'Itria, Carovigno is a white-washed city that fans out from its caramel-colored castle.
Torre Santa Sabina is a small Puglia seaside resort with a piece of history.
A beguiling historic town near Ostuni, Ceglie Messapica is often overlooked by those bee-lining for the beaches.