Ostuni, the other windy city

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).

 

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City walls.

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View from our B&B.

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I got along on one leg in Ostuni….

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That brown ball on the right is a cat.

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The Cathedral of Ostuni, 1435-1495.  I love the charming effect of the concave/convex façade.

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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.

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This carving is over the lunette.  Jesus is taking Mary to heaven, along with a baker’s dozen of flying baby heads.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

16 comments

  1. I have just returned from Orvieto, another Italian city known for its Duomo. The cathedrals around Europe are just amazing. Love your pictures.

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    1. Oooh lucky you! That Duomo in Orvieto is gorgeous!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Cat Smith · · Reply

    What a great place!
    http://alonewithacamera.com/

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    1. I suspect the food is great there too, esp. seafood since it’s on the sea, though we didn’t eat out due to budget.

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  3. This is the town I gave birth to my daughter in — 2 months early – I was supposed to travel to England a month later! We lived in a much-too large villa just outside of town – it was lovely. And windy. Even in summer – the Scirocco blew fiercely. Great for drying laundry on the roof where there was also a view of the sea. The hospital is NOT equipped for premies so they swept her off to less picturesque, Brindisi.
    When we went to Ostuni town hall to register her birth we were welcomed by the town clerk? or whatever the Italian equivalent is. A youngish guy – from Chicago!! An immigrants return. I’d never made that connection between the 2 places but there’s another for you. This was 20 years ago now, but if he’s still there, he would have taken great care of you.
    I’ll always love Ostuni.
    Thank you for this glimpse – and do try it closer to summer! (perhaps a little before to avoid the mobs)

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    1. That’s a wonderful story Tricia! Has your daughter ever been back to Ostuni since her early arrival there?

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      1. Not Ostuni – but Italy. Maybe one day she’d take her own children there to look for her name in that dusty book.
        I look forward to your next trip!

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  4. Lovely looking place….but a warm room would have been a godsend.

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  5. Indeed. I wish the innkeeper had though to keep his guest’s rooms as warm as he kept his own living quarters…

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  6. Hi Bath:
    Very beautiful classical city, the posture is very special.:):)

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    1. Thank you Sophia. You’re right about it being classical–doesn’t it look like this should be Greece instead of Italy?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Gosh – isn’t it odd! Beautiful but odd. Greek influence clearly evident here. Looks like you were the only people there? Happy travels 😀
    J…

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    1. Thanks jamesdeeclayton, it was indeed an odd experience. We often have the experience in winter when we think we’re the only tourist. Happy travels to you in 2015!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Why, thank you! You too. They’ll be many, I hope!!

        J x

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  8. I was in Ostuni five years ago! Really, really nice!

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    1. The whole area was stunning. I regret we didn’t have much local food–just have to go back, yes?

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