Whether you reach the town by car, bus or by train, Ostuni appears as a white vision in a sea of green olive trees. The historical center of the little town comes up as an island of white houses standing on the hill and enclosed by white walls that embrace and protect them from priers.
The defensive wall
The medieval walls were built between the beginning of 1400 and 1500, in order to protect the town from enemy invasions and, above all, from Saracen pirates who rage ,at that time, against the Mediterranean Sea. In fact, they plundered and destroyed all the little towns along the cost and the country.
Today, it is preserved a large piece of the original medieval walls which surround that part of Ostuni that stands in front of the sea. It is really fascinating to have a walk along the street around the walls, looking at the great landscape of centuries-old olive tree valley that goes toward the sea.
The old town
The center of the town for social events and night-life is in Piazza della Libertà, where locals and visitors could have fun in pub, restaurants and bars around the square, or just enjoy some fresh air during hot summer nights. Besides, on the top of the square there is the column of Saint Orontius that protects the community.
In front of Piazza della Libertà, there is Via Cattedrale, that is a street that introduces us in the old Ostuni with a plenty of little and white alleys surrounded from buildings decorated with baroque gates. Visitors are surrounded by a white maze of little streets where they can feel all the scents and noises belonging to the past. Ostuni can be explored very easily by following the streets which climb up or go down, crossing each other and meeting in courtyards, little squares, stairways and terraces which lean out the green olive valley and the sea.
Besides the beauty of the urban landscape, it is really interesting to have a look at the several craft shops around the old town too. The choise is really wide since there are things like: leather handmade sandals, or artisans who trasform olive wood into a lot of items such as fornitures, home decoration, kitchen spoon, and so on.
In the town there are also stone painters which paint landscapes on local stones, souvenirs, glasses,and fabriques. It can be very hard to buy a souvenir in this town!
The Archaeological Museum
Besides the beautiful baroque and decorated gates which deserve to be photographated, in Ostuni there are several interesting churches. Churches are always full of Italian culture and those in Southern Italy are very representative. In Ostuni there are two important churches. The first one is on the main street and it is dedicated to Saint Vito the Martyr. Nowadays there is The Archaeological Museum of the town which preserves the human remains of a Stone age burial called Ostuni 1. The woman was about 20 years old and she was with an 8 month child. This archeological finding is unique in the world since it represents the Great Mother of the world, a 20 years old woman with a 8-months baby on her lap. It is the most ancient pregnant woman ever discovered since it dates back to about 28.000 years ago.
She was discovered in 1991 by the professor Donato Coppola in a cave near Ostuni which today is inside the Archaeological Park of Santa Maria Of Agnano, a beautiful and ancestral place preserving ancient rituals dedicated to women, maternity and femininity which attract people from all over the world.
The Cathedral of Ostuni
The second and evocative church in Ostuni is the Cathedral dedicated to the Assumption of Holy Mary. It has a specific façade that is considered as a unique one with all the gothic decoration on a romanic plant that makes it look as a stone lace. Certainly, the most important decor item on the façade is the central rose window which catchs the attention of every visitor. It is Big and beautifully decorated, it explains in a symbolic way the idea of Jesus Christ as the origin and the end of everything, the alfa and the omega. Christ child, indeed, is in the center of three concentric circles which consist each in a number of items representing time: 24 little columns, 12 capitals and 7 little angels. It is an immediate simbolism that could reconnect to the 'Sky' and that, during 1500, could express all the spirituality of holy and daily life of the ancient inhabitants of Ostuni.
However, it is possible to discover a lot of hidden places in the Apulian 'white town', called in this way because of the tradition to paint houses' walls using a mix of water and limestone dust (a whitewashing very usefull to clean and disinfect the town), Every summer this ritual involves the locals which work togeter to prepare the town for the warm and beautiful season.