From the Top to the Bottom of the Heel

Even in beautiful Tuscany, the charming hill towns start blending together after awhile. Puglia is no Tuscany and doesn’t have as many hill towns but what it has started blending already.
The one town that stands out is Ostuni, the White City.
Perched on a hill, high above the valley below, the town is a maze of narrow streets, archways, and, to my delight, many stairs, which we walked up, and down, and around the town. Ostuni is whitewashed with lime according to the belief dating back to the Middle Ages that the houses such painted did not allow the plague to enter the premises and to attack the inhabitants.
At the approach from the valley, Ostuni appears to be a circular cake with white frosting and darker slits of many windows splattered around the sides; all of that topped with a couple of steeples and two mosaic cupolas.
Another town, Martina Franca, held some promise. In its heyday, this town must have been glorious,; however today, it’s somewhat rundown, although the signs of its former glory can still be seen in the Baroque facades of its mansions.
Cisternino is a smaller and poorer cousin of Ostini, and Locorotondo is tiny, cute, and wealthy. The best tourist attraction in the area, though, is not the towns but the countryside, especially around Locorotondo: heavily populated by trulli families, which live amidst olive and almond tree groves, on poppy field carpets, flanked by vineyards. But all this beauty is concentrated mostly at the top of the heel, in the instep. As we drove down the heel, the area became flatter and decidedly less picturesque. Down here, we are staying in Maglie – a small provincial town; by night, eerily devoid of people and lights alike. What brought us here is a chic b&b, Corte di Francesi, which is a 500-year-old tannery tastefully converted into an artsy little hotel. Our suite has original vaulted ceilings, stone walls, and flagstone floor, the niches are decorated with local pottery, and the walk to the room took us over glass floor windows, through which the remains of the old tannery could be viewed.


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