The 10 most beautiful beaches in Ostuni, Italy

The “white” Ostuni

The town of Ostuni is nestled on a hill a few kilometers from the Adriatic coast and for centuries has been attracting tourists from all over the world with its snow-white splendor, medieval charm and the perfect interplay of man and nature.

The water and coastline belonging to the Regional Natural Park of the Coastal Dunes have received important awards that confirm the cleanliness and ecology of the sea: for example, the Blue Flag of the Foundation for Environmental Education and the 5 sails of the Environmental Protection Society “Legambiente”. The town of Ostuni is rich in historical sites of cultural, recreational, natural and gastronomic interest.

History

The karst nature of the soil has contributed since Paleolithic times to the formation of primitive settlements of hunters who built shelters in the caves of the area. The most important evidence of that period is the skeleton of the “Ostuni woman,” whose burial (about 25,000 years ago) was found in a cave near the city. At the Museum of Preclassic Civilization (Via Cattedrale 15, opening hours: 10 to 13, closed Mondays, admission € 5) you can see a copy of the burial.

The ancient Messapi people, whose origins are unknown, founded around the seventh century B.C. the first village, which probably occupied not only a steep hill, but also part of a plain overlooking the sea.

The Romans conquered Ostuni at the same time as Salento in the third century BC and, according to one hypothesis, it was they who named the town Sutrtinum after the Greek hero Sturnoi, who founded it on his return from the Trojan War.

In the Middle Ages Ostuni was invaded by the Ostrogoths, Lombards, Saracens and Byzantines, and in 876 it sheltered monks of the Order of St Basil the Great from Syria and Egypt. Fleeing iconoclasm, they took refuge in local caves and devoted themselves to crafts and agriculture. This was a significant contribution to the establishment of certain types of agriculture, such as the cultivation of olive trees.

Later cultivation was continued by the Normans, who in the twelfth century created a county in Puglia; in Ostuni rises a castle that occupies a high hill and is the site around which the historic center was formed. Today what remains of it is the Garden of Dzurlo and a tower. Frederick II Staufen gave the city a number of important privileges that contributed to its active development. Houses were built one above the other, and the mansions of the nobility consisted of several floors: this was conceived to facilitate the defense of the city, as well as to make maximum use of the built-up area. The city also received new walls, of which today only the Porta Nova (laid out in the twelfth century and rebuilt in the fifteenth century) and the Porta San Demetrio (thirteenth century) remain.

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Meanwhile, a custom was spreading that later became a hallmark of Ostuni – houses painted with lime up to the roofs. In the medieval town, in fact, the streets and public spaces were very narrow, and the lime, derived from the geological rock of the earth, visually added more light, both to the town and to the inner rooms. At that time, the entire historic center of Ostuni was painted white, for which the town was named the “White City.” Moreover, the disinfecting properties of the lime protected its inhabitants from the plague that was rampant in the area at certain periods.

Scopp’s Arch, connecting the bishop’s palace and the old seminary building © Andrei Rybachuk / Shutterstock.com

In the following centuries the city experienced alternating periods of growth and decline; and in 1799 the inhabitants rebelled against Spanish rule, proclaiming their freedom, and in the early 19th century the city was involved in patriotic movements. It was Ostuni on August 26, 1860 that became the first city in the region of Puglia to raise the tricolor.

After the city became part of the united Italy, its policy was aimed at developing agriculture and tourism. Several resorts were built on the coast, whose offer was also appreciated by an international audience.

What to see

Ostuni Cathedral

At the very top of the hill stands the Cathedral of Ostuni (Largo Trincera Francesco; 10-13, 15-20), a 15th century basilica built in the late Gothic style, erected on the site where the city’s castle once stood. Its façade is decorated by portals with a large central rosette decorated with the figure of Christ surrounded by the apostles, who holds the earth in his hands as a sign of his patronage. The interior decoration was rebuilt in the XVIII century: the central nave with frescoes depicting Saint Horace and Saint Biagio; the ceiling is painted with scenes from the life of Jesus.

On Via Cattedrale is the Church of San Vito the Martyr, an example of Baroque Lecce. Built in the mid-18th century, it has a curved façade and a dome finished with tiles. Inside you can admire the wooden pulpit and the sumptuous Rococo altar by Francesco Morghese. The church is linked to the convent of the Carmelites, which also houses the Museum of Preclassic Civilization of the Murge (via Cattedrale 15, opening hours 10 to 13, the museum is closed on Mondays, admission € 5), it preserves some of the altarpieces made for the chapel of the church.

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“La Terra.

The main attraction of the city is undoubtedly the old town, which the locals call “La Terra”. Protected by walls and Aragonese towers (eight authentic ones), it is elliptical in shape and formed around the Cathedral Street, which climbs the hill to the top, crossed by typical alleys, staircases and intricate passageways.

Churches

Other interesting churches in the old town of Ostuni are San Giacomo in Via Bixio Continelli with its beautiful Gothic portal decorated with floral and anthropomorphic ornaments, San Francesco d’Assisi in Piazza della Liberta, erected in 1304. It is worth seeing the painting “Moses Breaking the Tablets of the Covenant” by Luca Giordano’s pupils and several wooden and marble sculptures of the XVIII century, as well as the Spirito Santo in the same Piazza della Liberta with the beautiful Renaissance portal and the carved Gothic lunette.

Palaces

In addition to the two churches in Piazza della Liberta there is the beautiful town hall with its neo-classical façade, decorated inside with paintings by Onofrio Bramante, based on the history of Puglia; and the 30-meter spire of Saint Horace, topped with a statue of the patron and other saints in the corners, created by sculptor Giuseppe Greco in the XVIII century.

Ostuni-la-piazza-centrale

Also standing out in the cityscape of the old town are the majestic palaces of the nobility, such as the house belonging to the family of Neapolitan origin, the Siccoda (via Cattedrale, 35), built in 1575 by Giovanbattista Siccoda, whose image can be seen in the medallion to the right of the frieze of the third portal of the palace. Of the three portals of the house, only the middle one existed originally, while the side ones previously framed the windows.

Despite their functional purpose as an architectural element, in Ostuni the Baroque portals are of high artistic interest and are among the attractions of the historic center of the city, attracting the attention of tourists. It is worth admiring the portals of Palazzo Falgheri (Via A. Giovine 27), Palazzo Gionda Pom and Casa Moledino (Via F. Bach 5-7) and Palazzo Bisantizi (Via A. Petrarolo 34-36).

In the modern part of the city it is worth visiting the Church of the Annunciation (Via Ludovico Pepe), built in 1196 and later remodeled in Baroque style. Among the works of art that adorn it stand out the painting of the “Entombment” by Paolo Veronese (1574), some paintings by Fra’ Giacomo di San Vito, the main altar by Giuseppe Greco and the 16th century linear choir with bas-relief windows.

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Beaches

Ostuni’s seventeen kilometers of coastline is rich in a variety of beach vacation offerings: camping, residences, apartments and more. One of the most popular beaches is that of Pilone, with its sandy shoreline, dominated by a 16th century watchtower. Due to the presence of habitats of various fauna, this area has been declared a nature reserve.

Nearby Pilone is the tourist town of Rosa Marina, which can only be accessed by holidaymakers of the resort. A little to the east is another village, Monticelli, with high dunes and a family atmosphere. Another six kilometers to the east lies Costa Merlata, with a rocky coastline and cozy sandy coves. Finally, Santa Lucia is Torre Pozzelle, with its unspoiled nature and high cliffs that protect a series of coves.

Cuisine

Orecchiette with turnip tops

Orecchiette – “ears” – are a traditional pasta format for Apelia. They are usually one inch in size, but due to handmade, the size can vary. Around Bari, there is a slightly more elongated shape called “strashinati” (“elongated”). When they are carved with the tip of a knife, they are drawn in an oval rather than a circle.

Panzerotti

Panzerotto is a small version of a closed “calzone” pizza, only the dough for them is made softer. The most common toppings are: tomatoes and mozzarella, onions and black olives, onions with anchovies and capers, eggs with cheese or ricotta.

Eggplant “ku llaggya nculu.”

Eggplant has a special place in Puglia cuisine: it is used in many different dishes. The recipe for this one is very simple, takes very little time to prepare and allows you to fully explore the flavor of eggplant cooked in extra virgin olive oil.

Fried ricotta

The ricotta for this dish should be quite dense and, if possible, from sheep’s milk. It should be sliced not too thinly, rolled in flour, dipped in beaten eggs, then in breadcrumbs and fried in plenty of boiling olive oil. As soon as the ricotta pieces get golden in color, take them out, let the oil drain off, dry on a paper towel and salt them. The ricotta cooked in this way will be crispy and golden on the outside, but will retain all its softness and creamy consistency on the inside.

Scarccieddah .

Knead flour, salt, sugar and milk; achieve a good elastic dough. Divide it into three portions, form small braided cylinders, bind them with a hard-boiled egg. Place on an oiled baking tray. Beat the eggs and cover the dough on top, sprinkle with sugar and bake at 40°C.

How to get there

By plane

Brindisi Airport is about 35 km from Ostuni, Bari Airport is about 80 km. For more information see Aeroporti di Puglia website.

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Most trains from the Adriatic or Tyrrhenian coast stop in Bari or Brindisi, where you can change to a local train to Ostuni. The station is about 4 km from the city center and can be reached by shuttle bus.

By car

For those taking the A1 freeway, exit at Bari Nord and then take the Bari/Brindisi coastal freeway. Ignore the first signposted exit Ostuni / Cisternino and follow it till Ostuni / Pilone / Rosa Marina. From here drive to Ostuni (9 km).

Beaches of Ostuni, Gallipoli, Otranto, Leuca and Brindisi in Puglia for your holiday

Ostuni - BrindisiHolidays in Ostuni – Brindisi

Ostuni (see map) is called the White City. Unlike the rainbow-colored Ligurian houses in Cinque Terre, white is a symbol of coolness, austerity and purity. White is the most potent weapon against the sultry summer sun. Ostuni boasts magnificent olives, delicious almonds and excellent wine. But the sea is the pride of this ancient city. It’s rightly considered the cleanest in Italy. This is why in the past 50 years this traditional arable farming region has become a center of excellence for beach tourism in Italy.

The international tourist center Rosa Marina (map) – a clear proof of this. More than a thousand green houses in the style of dispersed hotel (albergo diffuso) each year become the summer home to tens of thousands of tourists from Sweden, England and Germany. But close by are also the seaside villages of Monticelli, Marina di Ostuni, Villanova and Diana Marina. And not far away is the famous home of trullo – the town of Alberobello, one of the attractions of Puglia.

Ostuni – photo gallery:

Monopoli - PugliaBeaches in Monopoli

The town of Monopoli (see on the map) is located in the province of Bari. Its unique medieval appearance blends beautifully with the curves of the coastline. The beach area is 15 km long and offers tourists a kaleidoscope of rocks, caves, cozy bays and sandy beaches. It is often visited by divers: Monopoli was once a strategic trading port.

Some of the most famous beaches in Monopoli are Lido Pantano, Lido Sabbiadoro, Torre Cintola, Porto Giardino, Le Macchié and Baia del Sol.

Monopoli – photo gallery:

Otranto - LecceThe best beaches in Otranto

Otranto (map) is known for its position on the Italian boot – it is the easternmost settlement in Italy. The historic center of the city was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2010. In ancient times Otranto was famous for its porcelain and weaving, in Roman times the city printed its coins and its port was the most famous in Puglia.

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Today Otranto offers tourists the delights of the Adriatic coast. Tourists choose the beaches of Baia dei Turki, Baia di Santo Stefano, Laghi Alimini, Punta Palasha, Porto Badisco and Torre Sant’ Emiliano.

Otranto – image gallery:

Leuca - PugliaLeuca Resort in Puglia

If you are curious to see the world under the very heel of the Italian boot, if you want to know and photograph the place where the exact border between the Adriatic and the Ionian Sea passes, you have to go up to the lighthouse of Punta Meliso in Castrignano del Capo. Leuca is considered a neighborhood of this town and is divided into two parts: Marina di Leuca on the coast and Santa Maria di Leuca on the mountain. The fame of this interesting geographical point in Italy has led to the fact that the quarter-town itself has become the subject of administrative claims of two Italian communes. The dispute has certainly fueled interest in Leuca, but thousands of tourists do not care about bureaucratic procedures: it has a beautiful sea, unique landscapes and romance of the Italian South. Take advantage of it. To get to the lighthouse you have to overcome only 254 steps.

The beach Fellonike is one of the most famous in this area. If you want variety in your beach program, visit also Marina di San Gregorio and Torre Vado .

Leuca – photo gallery:

Gallipoli - PugliaGallipoli – beaches and hotels

Founded by the ancient Greeks, Gallipoli (map), like other cities of the Italian South, was a tidbit for conquerors of all times. It seems that the last conquerors were foreign tourists. There is a lot to see and photograph in Gallipoli. Beginning with the Aragna Castle and fortress walls and ending with churches, palaces and quiet streets of the old town.

The best beaches of Gallipoli are in the southern zone of the city. Baia Verde reminds you of the Caribbean islands. The most beautiful beaches you can find in Gallipoli are the beaches of Lido San Giovanni and Lido Pizzo. The beaches of Rivabelle and Padula Bianca are located in the northern part of the town.

Gallipoli is a gallery of images:

Conclusion

Puglia offers an opportunity to relax at a reasonable price and learn a lot about life in southern Italy. It’s up to you how fulfilling your stay in this Italian region will be. Your main weapon is your natural curiosity as a traveler. Your main ally is the hospitable and friendly locals. In the summertime, the emerald sea is your protector.

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