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Ostuni, what to see in the White City

Written by Redazione , 28/06/19

Ostuni is a charming town located in the province of Brindisi. It is also called the White City. Once its historic center was painted with white lime and it was visible even from afar while reaching the city.

The town of Ostuni is sheltered by three hills and is located at 218 meters above sea level in the area known as the Valle d’Itria. The nearest airport is Brindisi which is about 30 kilometers away.

It is a  very popular tourist destination and hosts tourists that come from all over the world every year: Apulians, Italians and even many foreigners.

Above all the White City is well known for its characteristic historical center, and for its sea that since 1994 receives the Blue Flag recognition from Legambiente yearly for the clear and clean waters and the quality services offered.

What to see in Ostuni

The nickname The White City was given to the town because of the whitewashing that was used on all of the houses and that reached the rooftops. In the Middle Ages, lime was a very simple raw material that was found and used to provide greater luminosity to environments.

In recent years, the use of white lime has decreased considerably but the town's administration has made moves to to raise awareness among its residents and ensure that Ostuni can maintain the nickname of White City.

The historical center of Ostuni is a medieval village that is waiting to be discovered: it is simply wonderful to take a walk in the old town and immerse yourself in the many narrow streets which are characterized by many alleys, stairways and squares. There you can find trattorias that focus  on traditional cuisine, small artisan shops, and shops that sell local products.

[Samuele Schirò/Pixabay]

The Cathedral of Ostuni

While you are taking a walk through the historical center, you will have to stop and take in the immense Cathedral that was built in the fifteenth century and which overlooks the entire ancient village. The Cathedral of Ostuni is built in the Gothic-Romanesque style and has a large 24-ray rose window that leaves the viewer breathless.

As we proceed we can find another place near the Cathedral that deserves our attention: the Museum of pre-classical civilizations of Southern Murgia on the whole, which continues on to what was once a Carmelite Monastery.

Among the ancient works on display we will undoubtedly be captivated by the cast of Delia which is the imprint of a pregnant woman that was made over 25 thousand years ago and found in 1991. Continuing our visit through the historical center of Ostuni, we will discover the Bishop's Palace and the Old Seminary which are housed in ancient buildings dating back to the eighteenth century that are linked together by the Scoppa arch. On the ground floor of the Palazzo we find the Diocesan Museum which contains many historical and artistic works  that have been collected and preserved by the Church of Ostuni.

The ancient village of Ostuni, therefore, is a wonderful medieval village that offers us unique panoramas with monuments and buildings of inestimable value and beauty. Let’s not forget about the stately homes and the Aragonese walls that open onto Porta Nova, Porta San Demetrio and the modern part of the city.

We cannot fail to mention the noble dwellings such as the ducal palace Zevallos made in baroque style, the remains of the castle erected in the mid 1100s, the palaces of the most noble families of the city such as: the Aurisicchio’s, the Ayroldi’s, the Falghieri's, the Giovine’s, the Palmieri's, the Zaccaria’s and many others.

One of the most famous monuments in Ostuni is the Guglia di Sant’Oronzo which is a structure over 20 meters high and that was built in baroque style by the artist Giuseppe Greco.

Moreover, the city of Ostuni is rich with farms, many of which are also relevant from a historical, architectural point of view and which today have a social and tourist value.

Among the most famous we find: - the Masseria of Santa Caterina - masseria with an octagonal tower; the Masseria Lo Spagnulo which dates back to the end of 1600 and is characterized by a fortress with a medieval sighting tower; Masseria Carestia, the Ottava farm, the Cappuccini farm, with its typical Apulian trulli, and many others. Some of these farms have been transformed into luxury resorts and hospitable farmhouses  today that welcome a huge number of visitors every year: some also host small churches or chapels and produce the typical products from the Brindisi area directly in the neighboring lands.

The beaches of Ostuni

The coastline of Ostuni extends over 17 kilometers and is characterized by rocks, beaches made up of small pebbles, sandy coves, and dunes that are covered by typical Mediterranean vegetation. This beautiful scenery and the crystal clear waters that are found in Ostuni have allowed the city to be awarded with the Blue Flag Recognition by Legambiente many times, in addition to the quality of the services offered.

In this area we can admire the Natural Park of the Coastal Dunes where we find small lakes of brackish water.

The most famous seaside areas are Torre San Leonardo, Lido Morelli, Rosa Marina, Monticelli which is an ideal place for families, and Costa Merlata for those who love the rocky coast.

The coast of Ostuni today is one of the major seaside tourist attractions in all of Puglia. The city has recently obtained the green flag recognition from pediatricians as an ideal place for children and families. It now belongs to the 100 seaside resorts in Italy with the same recognition. In the evening the beaches remain open in order to allow vacationers to relax and have fun near the sea while offering good music and a pleasant and fun atmosphere.

Gastronomy in Ostuni

The typical product par excellence of the entire area of Ostuni is undoubtedly the extra virgin olive oil: the oil of Ostuni has obtained the DOP recognition from the Hill of Brindisi. The geographical position of the White City allows the gastronomic department of the town to be able to count upon both maritime products and products that are typical of the land and countryside.

In the numerous trattorias that we can find in this place, we could find ourselves enjoying the homemade pasta called "stacchiodde", orecchiette with meatballs, or exceptional linguine with seafood - mainly with mussels and clams. Other typical dishes include: baked anchovies, broad beans, broccoli rape, classic Apulian taralli, orecchiette, fried fish, pittole and the typical piece of bread. Finally, we cannot help but mention the classic brasciole which are meat rolls stuffed with ham, pecorino cheese, and parsley; the classic dish of rice, mussels, and potatoes; orecchiette with broccoli rape, and the mint omelette.

Summer in Ostuni 

During the summer with the arrival of many tourists, the program of festivals and events taking place in the town is very vast. One should pay particular attention to the patron feast of Sant’Oronzo which takes place on th 25th, 26th and 27th of August.

The festival of Sant’Oronzo in Ostuni has ancient traditions and legends: it all dates back to 1657, when Ostuni and the neighboring towns were spared from the plague thanks to a miracle performed by Santo Oronzo. Since then, every year the devotees form a procession to the sanctuary that was erected in honor of the Saint in Monte Morrone. The statue of the saint is escorted by the faithful on horseback who wear the typical garments of the era even today, while the horse is dressed in an embroidered red cap. During the procession, the band praises the Cavalcata motif and crosses the whole city passing through the historical center.

The ride of Sant’Oronzo is one of the most anticipated festivals for people of Ostuni and not only. In the three day celebration, a procession of horses and riders parade through the streets of the town escorting the statue of the saint. Every year this festival attracts many tourists,  as well as those who are simply curious, and many faithful people that arrive to Ostuni from nearby and distant cities.

In addition to the patronal feast of Sant’Oronzo, another well-known summer event in Ostuni is the Festa della Madonna della Nova. This is where different folk groups play and dance to the traditional typical dances. The whole summer is full of events, concerts and various kinds of events organized by the Municipality or by associations and groups in the town.

On the second Sunday of each month there is an antiques and objects market exhibition near the municipal villa. Every Saturday morning there is the classic weekly market near the Madonna del Pozzo.

During the summer the streets of the historical center host the small old artisans who are ready to make us relive the crafts and flavors  that come from the past: walking around the historical center of Ostuni is like going back in time and reliving and savoring all of the smells and flavors of the past.

How to reach Ostuni

The nearest airports are found in Brindisi, which is about 30 kilometers south, and Bari which is a bit more distant at about 110 km north of the White City.

There are several airlines that reach both airports during the numerous daily flights such as: Alitalia, Ryanair and Easyjet.

Once you land in Bari or Brindisi you can take the bus that is located directly outside of the airport and which takes you to the train station of the city. From there you can take the regional train directly to Ostuni. If you prefer travelling by train, you can find several trains  every day that leave from Rome, Milan or other important cities that have a stopover in Ostuni.

For those arriving by car from the Northern highways, you can exit at the Bari Nord exit towards Brindisi and then follow the signs; from Taranto state road 106 you must continue taking the exit Grottaglie - Brindisi and then continue to follow the directions; finally, for those arriving from Lecce or Brindisi, follow the state road 16 to the Ostuni - Villanova exit and continue towards Ostuni.

Once you reach Ostuni, the best thing to do in order to move around the city - and above all around the historical center - is by taking beautiful walks and calmly admiring the town. In order to reach the different seaside areas, instead, you can take the public STP buses which are very efficient and well organized.

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Ostuni (Greek: Astynéon) is a city and comune in the province of Brindisi (Puglia, Italy), with a population of about 32,000 located about 8 km from the coast. Its...

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