It all started with me reading an article about someone who was photographing affectionate couples in NY. Which reminded me of a favourite photo that I had taken with my Lomo camera some summers ago (2009) in Ostuni, Italy.This trip to Puglia / Apulia was particularly special as it was the first time AB and I had travelled together and first time that we were meeting in person since we first got to know each other in Paris. It was also the first time that I was visiting Italy. As well as the first time that I was using my Lomo LC-A camera which I had purchased online several years ago.
Lots of firsts. All in a good way : )
Why did we choose to visit Ostuni? It started with a magazine article about Lecce and its baroque architecture, which I thought might be interesting to visit as it seemed slightly off the beaten path, away from the tourists in Rome, Tuscany, Milan, etc.
One thing led to another… we came across Ostuni which looked really pretty with its whitewashed houses built atop a hill. Little wonder why the city is nicknamed ‘La Città Bianca’ (The White City)!We had spent a few days in Lecce before taking the train to Ostuni. While we were in Lecce, we noticed that most of the people who looked like they were tourists were Italians.
Before he left Paris, AB had mentioned about the trip to a few of his Italian friends and they were surprised to hear that we were going to Puglia as it was – no surprise – not a common holiday destination. According to AB’s friends, the Italians themselves tend to head north instead of south (Puglia’s in the ‘heel’ of the ‘boot’) for holidays.Anyway, we love a good adventure and Ostuni turned out to be one of our favourite places in Puglia!
It’s such a cute little city and the architecture’s beautiful. Meandering streets that barely allow a small car to pass through. Cobblestone paths leading from one staircase to another, past whitewashed houses with laundry hung out to dry in the pleasant Mediterranean sun.Once we got high enough, we could spot the sea with fields of olive groves in between.It was still a little chilly when we were there in May but the sunshine made a huge difference as we wandered around the city, occasionally stopping for a gelato or to marvel at the gorgeous buildings and views.Everyone we met in Ostuni was nice and smiley. It probably was unusual for the locals to see an Asian as I often noticed people curiously staring at me!
We had intended to spend just two nights in Ostuni but ended up staying for four nights as we really liked the city. Fortunately, we were able to extend our stay at Casa Tavani, which offers three apartments for rent – all of which are located within a carefully restored house not too far from the city square.We got to stay in two different apartments, each with a distinct decoration and fully equipped with everything that you would need (or want) when on a holiday – including diapers for families with young children! We loved the arched doorways within the apartments.We made several meals during our stay. There were simple lunches with ham and grissini (breadsticks), as well as insalata Caprese (mozzarella, tomato, basil), which we enjoyed on the terrace.AB was quite excited when cutting the tomatoes and insisted that I try some. I was like, ‘What?? It’s just a tomato…” To which he just replied, “Try it first.” I did. And I was surprised.
I don’t think I had ever eaten such sweet tomatoes until then! In Singapore, we import almost all the food we consume. Which usually means that the vegetables and fruits would have been harvested before they had ripened.
For dinner, we had orecchiette (local variety of pasta that is shaped like little ears), baked pizzas in the oven and fried breaded aubergines. All washed down with primitivo, the local red wine.Someone recommended Forno31 bakery in the guestbook and we ended up buying grissini, biscuits and various breads from them every day! A family-run business, the bakery is run by two friendly brothers who make the most delicious breads in their wood-fired oven. They didn’t speak English and we spoke no Italian. Yet we managed to chat with them through AB’s made-up, French-based Italian, and occasionally, through one of their neighbours who spoke a little English. They even suggested to drive us to the beach during their afternoon break and we took up on their offer – I shall write about this another time : )
While we made most of our meals at the apartment(s), we went out for dinner at a restaurant that was recommended in the guestbook. Located near a railroad, Osteria Zio Vito @ 66 Via g. Di Vittorio took up the ground-floor of a standalone house, which looked like it was the family home of the guy running the restaurant. We were the only customers when we arrived – we were there rather early (just after 7pm).
There is no menu and you’re served whatever the chef fancies on the day. The food was good but the portions were enormous! We kept wondering how was it possible for anyone to eat so much and finish every single course.For antipasti, we had artichokes, zucchini, aubergine, some fried bread and little balls of dough with meat inside. All of which we enjoyed except that we starting to struggle to finish the antipasti. Then came the primi piatti – pasta with clams – and we were done. We felt quite apologetic to inform the chef that we were unable to have the secondi piatti.
It was an interesting dining experience, but ever since that night, we made sure to always observe the portions of food served at a restaurant before deciding whether to share or order one dish per person!