Italians call it La Citta Bianca–The White City. I call it L‘altra Città Ventosa–The Other Windy City. Ostuni (the official name of this white and windy city) is remarkably picturesque from a distance. We approached by train though silvery rows of olive trees towards a small mountain of whitewashed buildings. After the friendly owner of our B&B picked us up from the train station, we dropped our bags in our room, and off we went, into the medieval maze of Ostuni’s old town.
We come from Chicago, famously known as The Windy City, though Ostuni looked nothing like Chicago (no skyscrapers, Dunkin’ Donuts or people wearing Bulls jackets) it certainly felt like home. We wound our way through windy alleys, windy corners, and up windy stairs. We huddled with feral cats to momentarily escape the wind. Though there seems to be little tourist information about Ostuni, I had managed to find a walking tour online. One handsome and more sheltered street was described in our tour as “once the home of the wealthiest town merchants, who lived here to avoid the wind.” Ahem.
While we certainly did enjoy our visit to Ostuni, which rewarded our attentions with a wealth of medieval, renaissance and baroque details (the town’s doors alone are worth a day’s study), we were, well, really freakin’ cold. All that wind was not favorable to picnicking either, so we returned to our room to warm up and eat dinner. To our disappointment our room, while containing a white leatherette bar table and stool, apparently was entirely unheated. As I shivered in bed in my double layer of clothes, I gave myself the “cultural relativism talk”–that’s my special internal dialogue about how all cultures are different and that’s a good thing, and not everyone needs to sleep in a seventy degree room.
By morning I was giving my internal dialogue the finger. We joined the other customer of the B&B, who slept in the room next to us, in the owner’s dining room for breakfast. While our rooms had remained icy cold and drafty, the owner’s rooms were cozy and warm! The moment the owner left we and our breakfast companion/fellow cold-sufferer erupted in mutual bitching about our windy rooms (and since nothing brings people together like shared complaints, we immediately bonded and traded Puglia travel tips).
View from our B&B.
I got along on one leg in Ostuni….
That brown ball on the right is a cat.
The Cathedral of Ostuni, 1435-1495. I love the charming effect of the concave/convex façade.
Church of Santo Spirito lunette c. 1450: a gothic depiction of the death of the Virgin, with surrounding apostles and angels. What’s with the wee little man crouching in front of the bed at Mary’s knees? He probably paid for the lunette.
This carving is over the lunette. Jesus is taking Mary to heaven, along with a baker’s dozen of flying baby heads.
Saint Oronzo, 1771. Peace out brah!
How we got to Ostuni: train from Lecce.
Where we slept: Nonna Isa B&B. Price: €51 for a double. Recommended: um….maybe in summer.