The most glamorous of Puglian towns, ‘la citta bianca’ sits high on a hill with views of both the sea and the countryside. Extending over three hills, you can see her from afar as you approach the city, shimmering in the Puglian heat. Built by the Greeks in 1 AD, Ostuni has a distinctly Greek feel about it, with white washed houses, colourful shutters, narrow winding streets and lots of staircases. The cacti pots on window sills and doorsteps remind you you’re in the hot, deep south of Italy.
Apart from just getting lost in the myriad of narrow medieval streets, Ostuni has a beautiful 15th Century Cathedral, which (like most of the Puglian churches) is prettier from the outside than from the inside. The rose window is stunning. If you prefer shopping over culture Ostuni has quite a few boutiques, some of which selling the usual tourist plonk, others selling more interesting local crafts or espadrilles and other beach ware.
Ostuni is definitely a little trendier than her other Puglian counterparts. It’s also more popular with tourists (mostly Italian though), and the restaurant & bar scene is more developed here. Undeniably chic, in that laid back Mediterranean way, Ostuni boasts lots of cool little bars, restaurants and hotels.
If you like a ‘lounge’ style bars, Ostuni is the place for you. They seem to have a thing for bean bags. The big, leather ones, usually in quirky bright colours. Not really up my street, but it seems to work here, especially for places like La Mela Bacata. Come here to lounge on big green bean bags in a narrow staired alley way and check out the phenomenal view of Puglian countryside and the sea. Cafe Riccardo has a similar set up to Mela Bacata, and is possibly the best known bar in town, with a bit of a reputation for those who like to ‘see and be seen’. But this is of course very relatively speaking. This is perhaps a bit less laid back and with more of a club vibe as the night proceeds.
But my favourite bar Controcorrente has unrivalled views of the old town itself, which is what the other two don’t have. It is, therefore, slightly outside of the Old Town, but not more than a 5 minute walk. Definitely go for one of their speciality G&Ts – they really know their gins here – most of which are served in huge goblets which I love. Friendly staff, perhaps not as cosy as the other two bars I mentioned (and I’m not sure about the shiny cushions) but really worth having some drinks here.
We didn’t stay for dinner here, so it’s hard to really comment – but I was recommend Piazzetta Cattedrale, with charming views and good Puglian food. La Mela Bacata, as mentioned previously, apparently serves a seriously good breakfast, with healthy ‘detox’ options too (like Acai bowls).
It’s a lovely little town, and very worthwhile spending some time.