Ostuni Italy Travel Guide: The White City

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 Ostuni, Italy is one of the most picturesque small towns in the spectacular region of Puglia.  This charming, fortified hill town is known as La Citta Blanca (The White City) due to its whitewashed houses, buildings, and city walls.  Ostuni glistens atop the lush green countryside covered with olive groves ending with endless panoramic views of the Adriatic Sea coastline.  The whitewashed buildings magnify the contrast of the green and blue colors that surround Ostuni. The best way to describe this beautiful town is that it resembles a multi-tiered wedding cake. 

an aerial view of Ostuni, Italy with white washed buildings, trees, and a blue sea

The moment you arrive and begin walking through the Old Town, you immediately begin to fall in love with the beauty of the whitewashed buildings adorned with colorful doors and window shutters.  Part of the charm of exploring The White City is getting lost through the labyrinthine narrow streets and alleyways, and taking the steps that lead you to another alleyway to discover another beautiful door adorned with plants and bougainvilleas in purple bloom.  The views are breathtaking and leave you wanting more.  

What is Ostuni known for?

a street in Ostuni with white washed buildings, red flowers, vines, and blue skies

Ostuni, Italy is not only known for its hilltop whitewashed buildings with exceptional views of the surrounding countryside to the sea, but the upscale feel of the vibrant bars, restaurant scene, and nightlife. The old town is filled with hidden gems just waiting to be explored.

Ostuni is a maze of whitewashed alleyways with arches and narrow staircases that make it easy to get lost and discover the Old Town. This Puglian town has an upscale feel and vibrant charm filled with many restaurants, gelaterias, boutiques, and souvenir shops.  There are many restaurants where you can sit on the steps to enjoy the breathtaking views of the coastline.

 As you wander the alleyways and climb the stairs, you discover picturesque Baroque-style residences adorned with colorful doors and window shutters; and colorful flower pots.  However, in the middle of the sheer white buildings, you encounter some beautiful historical architecture.

Puglia produces about 40% of all of Italy’s olive oil, with an estimated 60 million olive trees, some ancient ones dating thousand years old.  As you drive through the countryside in Ostuni, you can’t help but notice the endless olive groves stretching as far as the eye can see in the Itria Valley. 

 In Ostuni, you will find shops and farmhouses that produce quality olive oil, in addition to local wines.  Their olive oil production follows stringent guidelines to label their extra virgin olive oil.

How do I get to Ostuni?

It is very easy to get to Ostuni whether you visit by car or public transportation.  Driving is a great option, as it will allow you to admire the breathtaking Trulli countryside, not to mention the roads are in excellent condition. 

If you decide to take public transportation, the Ostuni Train Station is conveniently located to the east of Ostuni, about 5 miles away.  The train line runs regularly along the Adriatic coastline connecting the cities of Ancona to the north and Lecce to the south.  Directly outside the train station, you can board the local bus and arrive at the old town in about 15 minutes.

In addition, there are two local airports nearby, the nearest airport Brindisi Airport which is 19 miles away, and Bari Airport which is 50 miles away.

Does Ostuni have a beach?

Puglia’s coastline is known for its superb beaches. The coastline, just minutes away from Ostuni, boasts some of the most beautiful and clean beaches where you can relax by the crystal-clear turquoise waters and sandy beaches at your leisure.

Lido Morelli, located 8 miles from the old town, is a popular beach amongst the locals with shallow crystalline waters for the children to enjoy.  Lido Morelli, declared a Natural Reserve, has a long stretch of soft sandy beach with sand dunes and protected Mediterranean vegetation. 

Other beautiful beaches to visit include Rosa Marina, Villanova, and Pilone, Torre Santa Sabina. Along the coastline, you will find beach clubs and seaside restaurants, including night bars for those hot summer nights.

Things to do in Ostuni

Ostuni, Italy is one of the best places to visit in Puglia.  There are many historical places to see to immerse yourself in their culture.

Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption

The Cathedral of Saint Mary Of the Assumption in Puglia

The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, located in the heart of the historic center, can be seen from afar due to its grandness and tan-colored contrast from the whitewashed buildings.  It stands grand and beautiful on the hilltop of Ostuni.  Its grandiose beauty situated on the hilltop of Ostuni is exposed in small portions as you walk up the winding sloped narrow streets and stairways. The cathedral is of late gothic style and is adorned by an elegant rose window at the façade of the main entrance. 

The Roman Catholic Cathedral, known as Duomo di Ostuni, was a practicing Orthodox church before 1,000.  The Romanesque portion of the church was constructed in the 13th century.  During the 1456 earthquake, the cathedral suffered major damage and was again rebuilt to Gothic-Romanesque style in 1469 – 1495.  Walk inside the church and admire the detailed frescos and decorations.

Arch of Scoppa 

The Arch of Scoppa in Ostuni Italy with light blue skies

Facing the Duomo is the Arch of Scoppa named after the Bishop of Ostun.  It was constructed to provide a safe passageway between the duomo and the seminary. The arch was initially made of wood, due to the perilous of the original wood material, Bishop Francesco Antonio Scoppa established its transformation to stone following an earthquake in 1743.  Today, the arch and duomo are located near a charming piazza with restaurants for people to enjoy an aperitivo and admire the stunning historical buildings.

Tuk-Tuk Tour

Take a Tuk-Tuk tour to explore the historic center and the narrow streets meandering through the old town.  The 40-minute full-guided tour provides a unique, cultural, and exciting experience of the beautiful white city.  It’s a wonderful way to experience Ostuni, Italy through the eyes of the local guides.  The local guides will provide interesting facts, take you to places familiar to locals, and makes stops for photographs. Golapa Ape Callesino Ostuni uses electric tuk-tuks that are environmentally friendly.

Best restaurants in Ostuni

You cannot visit Ostuni without indulging in the traditional Puglian dishes.  The Ostuni cuisines are prepared from the rich and abundant selection of fresh seafood, meats, fruits, and vegetables.  With many choices to enjoy authentic cuisine, these are my uniquely three choices.

Il Posto Affianco

Il Posto Affianco a restaurant in Ostuni Italy with tables on a terrace with vines hanging over the trees
Photo Credit: Il Posto Affianco Source: Facebook

Il Posto Affianco is the essence of Puglian authentic cuisines.  It offers simplicity, generosity, and heavenly cuisines.  The moment you are greeted at the door, you are treated like family.  Their selection of dishes is made with the freshest sea and land ingredients.  Enjoy their homemade pasta or pizza with a glass of their local wine al fresco.  It is one of the most stylish restaurants located in the heart of the historic center.

Borgo Antico Bistrot

Borgo Antico Bistrot a restaurant in Ostuni Italy with light blue skies and an aerial view of Ostuni town with white buildings, red flowers and chairs

Borgo Antico Bistrot is at the edge of the hill with stunning panoramic views.  Perfect place to relax and enjoy a glass of prosecco with an aperitivo and take in the breathtaking views of the Itria Valley and coastline.  The food is wonderful and the staff is super friendly.  Come for an aperitif and stay for the Puglian gastronomic dinner.

Osteria Piazzetta Cattedrale

Osteria Piazetta Cattedrale a restaurant in Puglia with plates on the walls and white table cloth tables
Photo Credit: Osteria Piazetta Cattedrale Source: Facebook

Osteria Piazzetta Cattedrale is a small and intimate restaurant, but huge in flavor with fresh and delicious tasting cuisines.  Every dish is prepared with fresh ingredients and impeccable attention to detail.  It’s no wonder it received a MICHELIN Guide review.  It is very easy to find since it’s located in the piazza that is near the majestic Cathedral, as its name would suggest. 

Masserie’s in Ostuni and their Origin

a white washed Masserie with stone floors, hay stacks and lights

As you drive through the countryside of Ostuni, Italy you cannot help but notice the many typical Pugliese masserie’s, fortified large estate farms.  Masserie’s are abandoned old fortified castles built in the 16th century to repel attacks from the Adriatic Sea.  The masserie’s were built with a defense wall enclosed with the main building and small rural buildings to house farm workers, stables, and a church.

After a long period of neglect, the masserie’s with vast agricultural land were restored to their original traditional estate farms and now serve as beautiful and luxurious hotels.  Today, the charming masserie’s offers great amenities for guests to relax and enjoy the swimming pools, walk along the manicured gardens, enjoy a spa day, or simply take a stroll around the masserie admiring the olive groves with thousand-year-old olive trees. 

The White City is a Must-See When in Puglia

Ostuni, Italy is the perfect destination when you are looking for more than just a cultural experience. Its breathtaking scenery offers romance, luxury, and beauty making it a truly memorable experience.  The moment you arrive, you instantly connect with the locals who are excited to showcase Ostuni.  The best way to enjoy Ostuni is by immersing yourself in their culture and foods, getting lost in the labyrinthine alleyways and stairways, and discovering the magic of Ostuni.


Esther Diaz

Esther Diaz is a worldwide traveler that grew up in Los Angeles, California. Her passion for travel began at an early age and she has traveled to 20 countries in Latin America, Europe, and Asia.
She loves the adventure of discovering hidden gems, meeting the locals, and immersing herself in the culture and food.

Through her stories, she will share with you the five senses of each destination: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Her mission is to take her readers on a cultural adventure that will encourage them to travel the world.


3 Comments

  1. Linda Sheppard

    What an excellent article!
    I have never even heard of Ostuni but now I will have to put it on my “must-do” list.
    The article touches on it’s history, its beauty and then gave me specific recommendations for tours and restaurants.
    Excellent article !

    Reply
  2. Marie

    Absolutely fantastic article! Thanks so much for sharing this… I wanna jump on a plane right now!

    Reply
  3. Michael Taylor

    Wow! Great pix and so much detail! I almost feel as though l have already been there!

    Reply

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