The picturesque whitewashed houses:
the unmistakable distinguishing feature of Ostuni
To find out the reason why Ostuni is known under the name of the “White Town“, we must make a leap into the Middle Ages, when it was hit by a severe pestilence that brought the local population to its knees.
The plague epidemic led the town to its complete destruction, so much so that its inhabitants went very close to total extinction. However, thanks to the habit of whitening the houses with lime (a practice known as whitewashing), the latter acting as a real natural disinfectant, Ostuni eventually saved itself from the plague. And today, its whitewashed houses have become the unmistakable distinguishing feature of the town.
Ostuni lies on three hills,
just 8 km from the Adriatic coast,
where the Blue Flag waves.
What to see in Ostuni
Going through the streets of the historic centre of Ostuni (the district called Rione Terra) is an experience not to be missed. After paying a visit to the Cathedral, an example of Gothic style from the 15th century with a splendid rose window, among the largest in the world, the focus then shifts to the Benedictine convent, with the annexed Church of St. Peter. This monastery, which is located along Via Gaspare Petrarolo, is considered an important example of the Apulian Benedictine art.
Churches and noble mansions follow one another within the old town, surrounded by the Aragonese walls interrupted by the two gates of Porta Nova and Porta San Demetrio. As you leave the town, the view of the Bishop’s Palace and the Seminary, as well as of some other lesser churches, archaeological sites and masserie (ancient fortified farms) strikes you immediately.
And yet there is a corner of Apulia that has not gone unnoticed by most Instagram users: namely, the “Door of Salento“, the suggestive blue door set between prickly pears and white lime photographed and shared on social networks by thousands of users.
Delights for the palate
ICED COFFEE (CAFFÈ IN GHIACCIO)
Served with lemon peel, it is a fresh, genuine and energising drink, even better if drunk while admiring the gorgeous view of the town.
TYPICAL TARALLINI (CRUNCHY RING-SHAPED BISCUITS)
Tradition requires that they be prepared with extra virgin olive oil and immersed in boiling water before being cooked in a wood-burning oven.
ANCHOVY AU GRATIN (ALICI ARRACANATE)
Anchovies arranged in layers in a pan and cooked in the oven with a mixture of breadcrumbs, chopped garlic, mint, capers, and oregano.
CAPPELLO (lit. “HAT”)
A local timballo typical of the town, stuffed with fried aubergines and courgettes, sautéed veal escalopes, hard-boiled eggs and cheese.
A dish full of flavours, consisting of a cream of dried broad beans boiled with chicory or turnip greens accompanied by extra virgin olive oil.
COURGETTES ALLA SANZA
In this side dish, the dominant ingredients are vinegar and mint, which are added at the end of cooking to give it a characteristic flavour.