Ostuni - Italy

Trip Start Oct 30, 2007
Trip End Nov 20, 2009

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Flag of Italy  , Puglia,
Thursday, October 16, 2008

(Note :  All entries from now until Perth in November are way
shorter than they should be, as all out text got stolen, together with
our laptop, all our valuables, and almost our whole campervan, when it
was broken into and trashed in Rome at the end of October.  Have a look
at that entry if you want to have a look at the damage the bastards
did.  The next month or so´s text is written 6 months later, so we may
have forgotten some bits!)

While we had a lecture from our new friends Mauricio and Grazia about how we should watch our pockets in the seaport city of Bari (our next destination) and made it sound like a den of thieves, they should maybe have warned us that the city is so choked with traffic you couldn´t actually get into the city, let alone try and park a campervan.  Having been in Italy some time now, Brad could mix it up with the best of them, driving Italian style.  Barge through a tiny space, hand on horn, mount kerbs, force pedestrians out the way, manoeuver through spaces with an inch free on either side, but it was no good.  On the whole trip, after an hour and a half of trying, this one town defeated us.  We´d planned to go and see the bones of St Nicholas (as in him of Father Christmas fame) but we figured he´d unlikely be going anywhere, so we could still see him if we came here another time!

We drove down the coast, stopping instead at a tiny little village by the sea, with a stall by the water selling fresh mussels.  We bought a couple of kilos and cooked up chilli mussels overlooking the water watching the sun set.  Another of our great spots!

Slightly inland were the villages of the Trulli region.  Hundreds of years ago, these huts/ houses had been built in this distinctive style (circular white adobe buildings, with pointed thatched roofs) originally to avoid land tax, as they could be dismantled and rebuilt quickly when the inspectors came.  Given the nature of southern Italy in general we´re not sure much has changed.  Southern Italy was a very different country to the more affluent north, especially regions around Milan and Turin.  Here, the region is notably poorer with a large dependence on agriculture and the sea, and the level of unemployment is almost 20%, far greater than the other end of the country.  The pace of life here is so much slower, and if anyone has ever been a little frustrated once in a while with shops being shut for the afternoon siesta, try southern Italy.  Not only do shops rigidly shut between 1 and 5pm (that´s every shop, so make sure you have enough drinking water in summer), but so do all petrol stations, tourist attractions, in fact everything.  Something to plan round anyway.

The villages of Alberobello and Locorotondo were just lovely, and we ended up spending the night at the historic hillside town of Ostuni, with its labrinthine alley and streets - almost like living in a maze. 
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