The drive south from Rome was uneventful, just tiring. We’d picked up the car at Termini (after the agent sternly told us “always use a parking garage in the South or the car will be stolen!” Guess those North-South attitudes are still with us). Got Italy’s Worst Panino at the Autogrill (I am not one charmed by the Autogrill) and continued through Lazio, Campana, and into Puglia. Following a mixture of the owner’s directions and the GPS, we got thoroughly lost in the outskirts of Ostuni. Revising somewhat, we got back on track, only to be caught unawares by a blocked off street with a pile of rocks–the street we had to go on. We eventually found our way around, navigating the one-way streets, and those that should really be one-way, with a healthy dose of cursing from driver and navigator. Found parking, found the lovely house, and gratefully opened a bottle of wine left by the keyholder. The house is in the second oldest part of town, just across from the hill containing the maze of streets of the oldest, surrounding the Cathedral. Our street has many elderly residents–we have a chorus greeting us each time we pass by now. Like many of the houses, it’s tall and narrow, one room on each floor. As the ceilings are high and arched, the staircases are alarmingly steep, with high risers. Us with short legs are getting a workout–I have no idea how the old ladies in the neighborhood do it. For us, the view from the top terrace is totally worth it.
Found the supermarket, got provisions for a few days, and threw together a pasta with local ricotta, tomatoes, arugula and basil.
On Sunday morning, we walked around town before the tour buses showed up. The old part of Ostuni is crowded with shops selling local products–olive oil, dried pastas, rather ugly items made from the local white stone. There are still obviously real residents here in the back streets, judging by the plenty of laundry drying by doorways and across lines. The Greek-influenced architecture is especially lovely against the blue sky.
For lunch, we drove over to Ceglie Messapica, a lovely 15th century town. The rain that had been threatening finally came down in buckets, so we stopped our walk and found the restaurant that J had recommended, Osteria Guiseppe. We were the first ones there at 1. They do a fixed price four-course meno, with 2-3 choices for the pirmi and secondi. The food started arriving, and continued for two hours. Meanwhile the small place was filled with Italian families. The food was largely traditional, including things like ricotta forte, a horribly stinky version of the usual sweet ricotta, lots of marinated vegetables with the antipasti, orechiette served in the sauce the bracciole was cooked in, and tiny local nut cookies. We paced ourselves, couldn’t possibly eat it all, and enjoyed talking with the lovely owners. Best dishes were the antipasti, the pasta with a pesto of arugula, and the carpaccio. Lunch finished with fruit salad, nut cookies, and homemade digestifs.
Rolled out, and drove around a bit, past endless old olive groves and stone fences. Finally headed toward the coast, and pulled into a place recommended by our apartment owners, Pilone. Most of the coastline is highly developed, with rather scrubby looking beach towns and gated-off beach clubs, but this little cove is lovely. The sun came out for a few minutes, turning the water green and blue. href=”https://argilman.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/20140615_094504.jpg”>
We plan to come back here some morning to laze.