Heading North From Lecce
On this day, we backtracked north from our stay in Lecce and saw the sights we drove past on our long drive south from Pescara to Lecce. We had several target stops. We wanted 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 found 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 did not offer us a lazy sandy beach day. It was a good things we found great beaches when we headed south from Lecce on another day trip!
Our First View Of Ostuni The White Town
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 into the town from the south. But the GPS wanted another exit.
We soon learned that the first exit was the preferred route in the morning sunlight for a great view of the sparkling white hill town. Heading in from the north side gave us a somewhat more sheltered view. The sun was just not in the right place for great morning shots. The town didn’t quite sparkle white the way we saw in our planning research!
Following the signs for the Cathedral we found the big parking lot used as a base to walk up. We saw the cathedral in the distance, high above us on the hill.
There were signs all over about the need for parking meter payments. But a local helped told us there was no charge at this time of year. This seemed to be a common thing we found at many tourist stops. But since we got one parking ticket already in Italy, we triple checked all parking signs!
Heading High Into Ostuni
Having noted the climb to the Cathedral, we briefly debated taking the unique “Ape” tour! The advertisement showed that the “Ape” was one of those unique small vehicles we saw all over Italy. The Ape would save us the walk up through the town and offered a bit of local trivia. In the end we chose to wander the streets on the way up instead. But we ran into the Ape occasionally as we walked!
Putting our feet in gear we headed up the cobblestone streets. We passed the Chiesa Del Carmine standing guard at the start of the steep hike up. This church was not open when we went by. But we wondered what the inside might be like. The outside front offered a dramatic picture. When we wound our way past we saw this was just a facade.
Wandering In The Old Town
We wandered around the piazza a bit and looked at the Colonna Di S. Oranzo. At the tourist office we picked 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 and explored the outside. The carvings on the church front resembled the ones we saw at the Chiesa Del Carmine – perhaps the same designer? The statues and copper door were filled with minute details.
We stopped at the cafe and people watched as small and larger tourist groups headed up or down the road to the cathedral. The usual hawkers sold umbrellas, knick knacks and for some strange reason, a set of jumper cables. We must have emitted a “local vibe” after travelling for weeks in Italy. The hawkers never looked at us twice.
Along the road to the cathedral we found a large number of tourist junk shops. It was the first we really saw in a while. Having visited less travelled spots when we toured Abruzzo the previous week, we forgot how pervasive such shops were in tourist spots. We easily walked past it all.
Visiting The Cattedrale Di Santa Maria Assunta
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. We saw uncovered frescos and statues.
But much in this cathedral was 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 saw the parking lot off in the distance.
A Great Visit To Ostuni The White Town
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 saw.
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?
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