The last leg of our trip: Ostuni. By this time, we had seen most of Puglia and weren’t sure how “The White Town” would fare in comparison to the colorful seaside of Polignano a Mare or the unforgettable oasis between the walls of Borgo Egnazia. We figured the trip couldn’t get better…and we couldn’t have been more wrong.
Let’s first talk about the city of Ostuni. It is an ancient citadel built upon a hill and still fortified by its original ancient walls. The city itself is comprised of levels, tight hidden staircases, small roads, alleys, arches, 360 degree views of the Adriatic, portals and an air of mystery. It wasn’t hard getting lost, but every alley eventually spit you back out right where you needed to be.
Now, let’s talk about how we got into Ostuni. Upon booking our stay at Relais La Sommita, we received an email with thorough instructions as to how to actually reach the front door of the hotel. We were given the address of a laundromat which was to be our “landing” point and the closest accessible point to the hotel, as access to the historical City Center is not allowed (nor would you want to try finagling any car up any one of those small roads).
We drove our car to this point, and within minutes were greeted by the hotel’s Porter who promptly put our bags into the back of the tiny automobile and drove us through the streets of Ostuni as far as he could before pulling over, hopping out and ushering us to the top of a hill where a beautiful door with the words “La Sommita” appeared as if out of nowhere. We fell immediately in love.
After accepting a glass of arrival champagne, we were given a tour of Relais La Sommità. The property is a former historic mansion built in the 1500’s, turned 5-star boutique hotel. Suspended between the sky and sea, Relais La Sommità is breathtaking, with tranquil rooms enclosed by Apulian stone and furnished with soft woods and bright whites. Each of the hotel’s 15 rooms is unique with its own history, some in vaults, others with views of an orange grove, the Adriatic, or palms. Our perfect little oasis, shown below, is called “The Cave” and couldn’t have been more perfect in its simplicity, with walls of exposed stone and warm tones.
As tempting as it was to spend our day lounging/drinking wine in the cozy confines of our room, there was a city to explore. We happened to be in Ostuni for both their Saturday market and their monthly antique faire and wished, for the umpteenth time, that we had brought a spare suitcase to lug one-of-a-kind goods home. The Saturday market, held each week, is a large market with fresh food, vegetables, fruit and nuts, straight from the farms surrounding the walls of the city. The second Sunday of each month is the antique market which put any California flea market I’ve seen to serious shame.
After a couple hours of getting lost in the back streets of Ostuni, we hit what became our favorite spot for a snack and a spritz over the course of the next three days: Coffee & More, and continued on with our day of exploration.
We admit that as much as we loved exploring Ostuni (it truly was one of our favorite cities), some of our favorite memories of the entire trip were the moments we spent drinking Calafuria rose on the rooftop of La Sommita, and dancing in the stunning courtyard outside of our room.
I’m convinced the light in Puglia is the most unique and beautiful I’ve seen, and watching the sun set over the Adriatic from this very rooftop was quite possibly the best sunset we’ve ever seen.
We were told by several people – locals and tourists alike – that the “must do” dinner during our time in Ostuni was Osteria Del Tempo Perso. We made our reservation the day prior to our arrival and were blown away by the food, and our experience.
On the last night of our trip, we decided to stay in and dine at Cielo, La Sommita’s Michelin-Star restaurant. We’d enjoyed our fair share of orichette by this point, and were looking forward to something…less carb-oriented. Cielo was this, and more. Our 6-course meal was the perfect balance between new and ancient, with dishes paying homage to the city’s history, while introducing contemporary shapes, colors and flavors. Plus, there’s something to be said for a meal served in a stone vault, whose every course is expertly paired with an Apulian wine.
And there it is, guys. That’s it, the best trip we’ve ever taken. For those of you interested in a similar trip, I’m more than happy to send you a PDF of our Puglia itinerary, including day-by-day activities and tips 🙂