Around Ostuni there’s a whole world of fascinating, charming towns of Puglia for you to explore.
Named after the ancient Messapian tribes who lived in the area, Ceglie (pronounced ‘che-lee-ay’) is only 13 kilometres from Ostuni (around 10-15 minutes’ drive). It’s well-known for its gastronomy across Puglia and beyond, and boasts some fantastic restaurants which you must try. There’s also a small castle, open to the public and which often has small art exhibitions.
One of the larger cities in Puglia, Lecce makes for a great day out. It has a stupendous Baroque centre, including a huge Cathedral and a Roman amphitheatre (still used for concerts today). There’s also a Greek theatre and a wide selection of chic and unusual shops.
Nestled a bit further inland, but within easy striking distance of Ostuni, Martina Franca is one of the small but perfectly formed towns of Puglia. Featuring exquisite Baroque buildings, it’s well known for its designer boutiques selling a wide range of clothes.
A must for meat lovers! Its small centre is full to the brim with small, delicious meat restaurants. How it works: you select the meat you want (as if you were at a butchers), and they cook it for you straight away. Our favourite is the local delicacy, ‘bombette’. Cisternino also has a number of excellent restaurants if meat isn’t your thing (including vegetarian) and the views across the Valle D’Itria are breathtaking.
A bit further out, Oria is a small town which is often overlooked. Its large castle and ancient city quarters make it worth a visit, and its narrow, winding alleyways are fascinating. Just make sure you bring your camera.
A beautiful coastal town just 40 minutes’ drive from Ostuni. The old town is situated right on the cliffs, and some restaurants are actually inside the caves themselves. Vantage points along the town’s edge allow you to take in views across the deep blue Adriatic Sea. It also has a small ‘Saracens’ cove with a beach and is famed for its sculptures. Another town where you can get lost in its winding streets for a delightful afternoon.
Just down the road from Polignano is another of the historic towns of Puglia. Monopoli is great for shopping, or simply taking a walk along the sea wall. The centro historico is right next to the sea and includes an 18th Century redoubt, complete with cannons and a small castle. It’s another great place to visit if you’re a food lover, as it’s absolutely brimming with great restaurants.
North of Ostuni is the UNESCO world heritage town of Alberobello, which is famed for being a ‘Trulli‘ town. Its name literally means ‘beautiful tree’, and it’s definitely one of the most picturesque – and unique – towns of Puglia. Visitors to Alberobello mainly come to explore the trulli-packed streets. There are also plenty of gift shops for picking up kitsch souvenirs and tasting local products.
Located in Basilicata, the town of Matera isn’t even in Puglia – we just had to give it a mention. Don’t miss the ancient ‘Sassi’, a mass of dwellings converted from natural caves, still in use today. Not too far from the towns of Puglia, it also makes for a great day out.
Find more information about Puglia on the official Italian Tourist Board website.