We Didn’t Find a Swimming Beach Before Heading Into the Hills
This was our day to backtrack north from Lecce to see the sights we had driven past in our long drive south from Pescara to Lecce. We had several target stops – to see the white hill town of Ostuni, to experience trulli houses and to find a beach.
For our last objective, we failed miserably. We found nothing that looked like a beach or beach town in either Monopoli or Polignano a Mare. We did find sheer cliffs with signs that pointed to grottos below, but of course, in off season there was nothing to visit. These looked like great towns to return to explore scuba diving but they would not offer us a lazy sandy beach day.
Ostuni The White Town Sparkled On the Hill
To reach Ostuni the White Town, we headed north from Lecce on SS16 towards Brindisi following the GPS. We passed the first sign to Ostuni which would bring us into the town from the south but the GPS was looking for another exit. We soon learned that this would have been the preferred route in the morning sunlight to get a great view of the sparkling white hill town. Heading in from the north side gave us a somewhat more sheltered view, with the sun just not in the right place for great morning shots. The town didn’t quite sparkle white the way we had seen in our planning research!
Following the signs for the Cathedral we found the big parking lot that everyone used as a base to walk up. We could see the cathedral in the distance, high above us on the hill.
While there were signs all over about the need for parking meter payments, a local helped to interpret the sign to say there was no charge at this time of year. This seemed to be a common thing we were finding at many tourist stops. But having got one parking ticket already in Italy, we were triple checking all parking signs!
Having noted the climb we would have to get to the Cathedral, we briefly debated taking the unique “Ape” tour! Luckily the advertisement showed you that the “Ape” was one of those unique small vehicles we had been seeing all over Italy. The Ape would save you the walk up through the town and offer a bit of local trivia. In the end we chose to wander the streets on the way up instead. But we would run into the Ape occasionally as we walked!
We wandered around the piazza a bit to look at the Colonna Di S. Oranzo and found the tourist office to pick up a map.
The Chiesa De San Francesco D’Assisi was in the main square beside the tourist office. We found a quiet moment between tour groups to explore the outside. The carvings on the church front resembled the ones we had seen at the Chiesa Del Carmine – perhaps the same designer? The statues and copper door were filled with minute details.
Along the road to the cathedral we found a large number of tourist junk shops, the first we had really seen in a while. Having visited less travelled spots while touring Abruzzo the previous week, we had forgotten how pervasive such shops are in tourist spots. It was easy to walk past it all.
We decided not to visit the archeology museum and kept heading up to the Cattedrale Di Santa Maria Assunta. Paying our 1€ entrance fee, we explored the nooks and crannies of this cathedral. Parts of the church were original (some uncovered frescos and statues).
But much in this cathedral had been rebuilt. The church provided an impressive demonstration of how you can be architecturally ornamental with coloured granite – for column and arch decoration. The ceilings were ornate as were the various alters.
We followed the roads in behind the cathedral and saw the panoramic view out to the sea as we slowly wound our way back down the hill to the parking lot. We wandered along local streets and poked into empty parts of the old town.
At least once I thought we had got ourselves lost but with faith we kept heading into alleys until we could see the parking lot off in the distance.
We visited the whitewashed Ostuni which is called “the White City”. As we travelled for 10 weeks through Italy, we saw hill towns everywhere we went. This was not the first or the last white hill town we would see.
We were off next to find the country roads to wind our way through Trulli house country.
Did you see Ostuni the White Town sparkling in the sunshine?