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Ostuni

Italy

From below, the peaceful town of Ostuni, in Puglia, Italy, looks like a cycladic fortress. Known as The White City and resting almost resplendently on the top of a hill, its jumble of whitewashed houses seem to be built one on top of another, only interrupted only by the occasional stone church. From the inside, however, it's even more confusing; locals may know how to navigate its alleyways and inexplicable dead ends, but to anyone else it's basically a toytown rabbit warren. That, however, is what makes a visit here so much fun.

How to get to Ostuni

Brindisi is the nearest airport, located just 35km away from the city, and numerous budget airlines fly to the city. Ostuni train station is 2km away from the city centre and has fast trains from Rome and Milan.

Things to do in Ostuni?

    Get lost in the Centro Storico: As we said, it's a muddle of houses, archways, alleyways, steps and surprises. You can set out with no intention of going anywhere, and you still won't be bored. Head out for antipasti, but be warned that the portions in this area tend to be enormous. Here, this traditional first course is a meal in itself. Spend a day on the beach: If visiting during the summer, then take a drive out to Quarto di Monte beach, roughly 8km from the centre. This little cove is a popular spot with locals and has an evening bar next to the beach. Go cycling: The area surrounding Ostuni is full of beautiful olive groves, and the terrain is perfect for a gentle cycle. Tours frequently leave from the town centre or you could just hire a bike and do it yourself.
  • Watch the city turn pink: it may sound odd, but one of the best places to catch the sunset is outside of the city, looking up at it. As the sky changes colour, so too do the whitewashed building. It's quite the sight.
  • Chill out in Piazza della Liberta: the town's central square, it is a great place to relax with a glass of wine - the local tipple is Ostuni Bianco - and just watch life happen.

When to go?

As a rule, spring or summer are probably best although it does get very busy from June - September. Ostuni relies on visitor trade during the summer to keep it going throughout the winter months, and those who visit during the off-season will find that there is considerably less open and happening. Temperatures tend to hover around 9 degrees Celsius, so there's little scope for beach time. That said, prices are also lower and locals swear by the fact that the fish is fresher too.

Things to note

As with many Italian cities, Ostuni enforces a limited traffic zone, known as a ZTL (Zona Traffico Limitato), to control the traffic in its historic centre and help preserve it. Only those with express permission to drive through it for a valid reason, for example residents, doctors or taxi drivers, may enter; almost all tourists will be prohibited. Failure to comply with this can lead to a steep fine. Some hotels do have passes they can provide to their residents, so check with where you're staying, but these will only extend to you loading or unloading the car.

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