With only an evening and a morning to visit the area, we limited our sightseeing to the two towns of Locorotondo and Alberobello. The other popular towns in the area of Martina Franca, Ostuni and Cisternino, would have to wait for another trip.
Since we were driving from the Salento Region, our drive that morning started in Otranto, with a stopover at Torre dell’Orso for a swim before hopping on the freeway near Lecce. Starting northwest, we drove on the Autostrada past Brindisi, exiting at the turnoff for Ostuni to see the other famous white hill town. While we didn’t go into the town itself, seeing the ‘white town‘ perched up on top of the hill was quite the sight! After almost accidentally driving into Ostuni’s maze of streets, we continued north through the countryside, eventually arriving at our accommodation. We knew we were getting close as trulli (cone shaped buildings) started popping up along the road side.
While Alberobello is known for its numerous trulli, you’ll see trulli style houses throughout the area, which makes for some very scenic driving. Besides some confusing signage around Ostuni, driving in the area was pretty easy.
As we wanted to get as close to a ‘real’ experience as we could with such limited time, we opted for a night in a renovated trullo, about two kilometres outside of Locorotondo called Residenza Di Nonna Giulia. The trullo and its more modern extension was deceptively large with two big bedrooms and a kitchen and dining area within the trullo. The accommodation is self-contained, with the owner living a few minutes away. It wasn’t easy to find as the numbering ‘system’ didn’t seem to have a ‘system’, but we eventually found it after a half hour of searching around the general area (in the rain!). The host spoke no English, which made my Italian lessons come in handy, though she had google translate on her phone when we couldn’t understand each other. Another lovely example of the joys of travelling! Hand signals come in handy sometimes 🙂
Visiting the whitewashed town of Locorotondo in the late afternoon and early evening meant many of the shops and restaurants were closed. On the plus side, the lack of open shops meant we had the back lanes and side streets within the town to ourselves. While not full of ‘must sees’, this compact town was a joy to wander around.
Finding a place to park the car was rather frustrating as I completely missed the large parking lot (Piazza Antonio Mitrano) and eventually found a parking spot on the street after several loops of circling the newer part of town and its one-way streets (including driving multiple times through what seemed to be a six-way intersection on a hill!). Once we entered the historic part of town or centro storico, the parking adventure was well worth it. Many of the side streets were beautifully decorated with flowers and plants and made for a very pretty stroll. The next time I’m in Puglia, I will make sure to spend more time in the area and particularly Locorotondo (now that I know where to park!) 🙂
Our visit to Alberobello coincided with a very rainy and chilly morning. Fortunately, by the time we arrived the rain had mostly subsided. This worked out well, with the dreary morning seeming to delay the arrival of the tour buses until late morning. This meant there were no crowds during our visit, though enough people to provide a bit of atmosphere. Just another example of the benefit of travelling in the offseason!
Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has row after row of conical-shaped houses, many of which, at least in the touristy area you walk through first, now house gift shops as opposed to people. Though many of the stores sold similar trinkets, there was enough variety to keep us busy for almost two hours (including a coffee stop – it was very much needed on the chilly day!).
While a very interesting town to visit, with the large-scale commercialisation and ‘zombie’ tourists walking off the oversized tour buses, I think one visit, while enjoyable and very unique, is enough for me.
Next stop – Back to the sea in Polignano al Mare