Today I want to take you with me to Ostuni – the White City, you may know for its magical atmosphere, whitewashed stone alleyways and charming lifestyle.
This year my husband and I were lucky to be able to come back to Ostuni for the entire month of August. We’ve had different vacation plans but as many due to the Covid restrictions in 2020, we decided to stay in Italy and move south for a few weeks instead of flying abroad. I have fallen in love with Ostuni during our previous, 3-days stay so I knew it was a gorgeous destination, yet I was worried entire month in the same town might not be as exciting as our usual vacation itineraries where we are on the go, explore and see new things each day…
Little did I know.
Whether you have 1 hour, 1 day or 1 month – Ostuni has a way of making you long for more. The days we spent soaking up the wonderful atmosphere, not only were very precious but also made me realise I could happily relocate there!
I can see myself renovating a typical apulian white house and enjoy the slow, living in the coastal atmosphere, walking the white streets and sipping cappuccino at Da Ciccio for the rest of my life. Ahhh. One can dream!
But before I go completely mad like the Frances from Under the Tuscan sun and buy first availble former homestead, let me tell you more about why la città bianca is worth visiting and what you can do while you are there.
Ready to explore with me?
As you might have guessed, like many hill towns, Ostuni has been built above the fields of olive trees to protect itself from invaders. The maze of white labyrinth with alleyways, twinkling lights, steps (and more steps!), pretty little terraces and hidden gardens – is reachable within walking distance. Once you get to Ostuni and find a parking (in high season it can get tricky!) you can walk anywhere. It’s a perfect destination for anyone who enjoys Italian, romantic atmosphere and a stroll amongst historical beauty.
While sharing bits and pieces of our Ostuni days on Instagram, I have received plenty of travel questions from you so I will do my best to cover them all. I will show you Ostuni and its close surroundings through my eyes and share helpful travel tips, if you would like to visit it one day.
Perhaps, by then I will be living in Ostuni so I can show you around (wink!)
THINGS TO DO IN OSTUNI
Wander by foot
As with every, small town the best way to explore and enjoy the atmosphere is to simply walk around, get lost in the alleyways. Most of the Ostuni’s streets are filled with cafe’s, boutique shops, bars restaurant, antique shops or ceramics workshops so you can get a glimpse of local craft.
A great starting point is the Ostuni gate – from where you will see the city walls, a massive construction, designed to protect the town. The short, 10-mins walk will bring you to the Piazza Libertà from where you can enjoy a walk in the maze of white streets.
Get a tour with the Ape car (tuk tuk)
I love exploring places by foot but a drive with Ape car makes the Ostuni experience more complete. Best time to have a tour is the golden hour when the white city ‘glows’. You will be driving around the prettiest corners with the local guide who will share with you stories and facts about the town.
Ostuni is definitely a great destination for shopping. From local ceramics to handmade fashion at affordable prices, anyone can find a little souvenir (or more!) here.
Every Saturday in the ‘new city’ part of Ostuni local market takes place where you can find a mix of local food, spices, fashion, homeware. If you are around for longer than couple of days, it’s worth a visit. Our favourite found is the peperoncino and garlic spice mix which is absolutely divine. It has been approved by my italian husband who hardly ever uses dried spices when cooking so it must be special!
Aperitivo & Cocktails
You can’t enjoy true, italian evening without aperitivo and as you can imagine, places where you can have aperol spritz or prosecco are definitely not missing.
The most famous bar, listed in many Ostuni guides is – Borgo Antico Bistrot, and for a good reason. Not only the architecture with a little white terrace is picture-perfect but also the selection of aperitivo plates is really good. Make sure to book a table as the waiting list in high season is often quite long.
We discovered Dolci Momenti this year for the first time and loved the location. A laid back, pretty terrace with cityscape view and special cocktail mixes is definitely my favourite spot for after-dinner drinks.
- Enjoy local couisine
As you can probably imagine there are many culinary stops on Ostuni’s maps. In the summer season the streets are filled with scents of Orechiette pugliese and seafood. Typical Apulian dishes, the ones you should definitely try include: Orechiette al cime di rapa, burrata (mozzarella), puccia (typical panino), local olive oil and all sort of seafood.
After testing majority of the restaurants and pizzerias during our August stay, I have rounded up our favourite places:
- Taverna della Gelosia (both food and the outdoor gardens were unforgettable!)
- Osteria del Tempo Perso (indoor but the food makes you forget about the entire universe)
Great value and charming location
- Bellavista (pizzaiolo napoletano!)
2. Follie Pizzeria Paninoteca Ostuni (takeaway)
3. Terra Nostra Salumeria (homemade food for takeout, make sure to try rice, potatoes and mussels!)
If you enjoy drink, music and a bit of dancing, make sure to stop by:
- Casbah live dj and music on Friday
- Giardini di Riccardo on Friday (beautiful gardens and great clubbing nights)
- Riccardo cafe every night (most lively bar in Ostuni for drinks and music)
- KIOS (6 km from Ostuni) weekend events depending on the night ranges from concerts, dance nights, 80s, 90s and everything in-between.
- Getting to and moving around Ostuni
Getting to Ostuni is quite easy as the closest airport (Brindisi) is only 35km away. The next one is Bari (100km). The best option to move around, visit nearby beaches, and explore area is by car so renting or arriving in your own car is recommended. However if you are planning to stay just in the old town you can get to Ostuni by train, bus or taxi from the airport and participate in organised day trips organised by local travel agencies.
- How long to stay?
After what I’ve told you at the beginning of the post, I’m not sure if I’m a good judge! I would suggest – as long as you can. One day is enough to see Ostuni, 3 days are enough to fall in love with Ostuni, few weeks are great to truly ‘live’ the atmosphere.
- Where to stay
Ostuni offers a wide range of accommodations to fit everyones needs and budgets so it depends on your personal preference. You can stay either in the one of the historical, white washed stone buildings / hotels in the city centre or in the typical Apulia houses or masteries located outside of the city. Here are a few of my favourites which we visited:
- City centre hotel: La Sommità
- Masseria options few km away from Ostuni: Masseria Moroseta or Masseria Dagilupi
- Many apartments / airbnbs to suit your needs. I strongly recommend to choose an option with a terrace view where you can enjoy a glass of wine, dinner or sunbathe in the morning. Rooftop terraces are quite popular solution in Ostuni so many accommodations will have this feature available. We booked our apartment through Wonderful Italy (currently not available online but there are plenty other great options!)
To me summer vacations can’t miss sea vitamin! I love exploring the cities and following historical paths but to reach full and complete happiness I need some time on the beach. What about you?
Ostuni is located 5 km from the closest coast. Within 25 km drive you will find all the most beautiful beaches worth visiting. In order to get to them you will need a car, as the public transport does not reach most of them.
- Torre Guacetto – It’s the most beautiful sandy beach located in the national reserve area hence in order to access the beach you will need to leave the car in the parking area and take a 5 minutes shuttle to the beach front. It’s totally worth the visit ( 15-20 mins drive from Ostuni )
(Public or sunbeds in the national reserve area)
- Torre Guacetto Apani – It’s the most unique beach due to it’s sea faraglioni ‘cliffs’ (see photos below). It it both amazing during the day and at sunset to enjoy the beautiful play of light and shadows.
(Public or Guna beach)
- Torre Pozella – a beach with mix of sand and rocks. We loved the fact that you can dive in to the refreshing sea straight from the rocks. It’s a public beach with a casual beach bar just behind the corner where you can enjoy light lunch or aperitivo.
- Torre San Leonardo – it’s been out most ‘comfortable’ beach as it’s the closest one, 5 km away from Ostuni. Sandy, pretty spacious and you can find both private areas with sunbeams or public beaches. On the days when we wanted to go to the beach just for a couple of hours – this was a perfect place.
(Public or White Beach Club, Lido Morelli, Lido Lullaby)
THINGS TO DO AND SEE AROUND OSTUNI
Thanks to its location Ostuni is a great base for exploring the region of Puglia. It is within 1 hour drive to most of the popular towns including: Alberobello, Polignano a mare, Locorotondo, Cisternino, Martina Franca, Lecce, Monopoli but also Gallipoli, Matera and Grotte di Castellana which are a bit further but still reachable for a day trip.
Depending on how much time you have I would definitely suggest starting with:
- Alberobello and its famous Trulli
- Polignano a Mare
- Grotte Castellana
Since this post is dedicated to Ostuni town and it got pretty long, I will share Puglia road trip itinerary and must-see stops, with many photos to give you an idea of what each place looks like, in my next travel post!
I hope that you enjoyed seeing Ostuni through my eyes!
Wishing you a great day!
Photography: Agata Dimmich / PASSIONSHAKE