Ostuni is one of the most stunning cities in southern Italy famous for the dazzling effect of its whitewashed houses. It is a genuine and charming example of Mediterranean architecture.
The city of Ostuni is a series of levels, staircases, small roads, alleys, arches. Hints of the Middle Ages are at hand in every corner, in every view to the sea, in the portal of a palace, in the walls of a convent or the front of a church.
The brightness of its whitewashed houses, set against the pink-tinged brown of its principal monument, makes the town stand out in the green of the surrounding area.
Is this happy combination of the natural and the manmade that has made Ostuni one of the most attractive cities in the region and an essential part of any tour of Italy.
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The Ostuni area was already populated during the palaeolithic period (50.000-40.000 years ago) by Neanderthal hunters who found shelter in numerous grottoes in the area.
Traces of people leaving in the area are also proved by the discovery of the body of a 20 year old pregnat woman who had been buried in a hole in a grotto 25,000 years ago. The skeleton on the young woman, now named “Delia”, is displayed in the Church of San Vito Martire.
During the I century BC the Messapians inhabited the higher part of the district. During the same period the Japigi also settled here. They lived together in the territory sharing common traditions and rituals.
The name of Ostuni, for the Greek "Astu-neon" (which means “new city”), was first used after the construction of a new town over a previous one during the I and II centuries AD.
The city remained under Roman domination until the 448 AD. Soon after the fall of the Roman Empire it was occupied by the Ostrogoths and around the end of the VII century by the Longobards.
During the XVI century, with Isabella D'Aragona, started for Ostuni an era of culture and art. The daughter of Isabella, Bona, enlarged the surrounding wall of the city, rebuilt the Tower of Villanova and built the two towers of Torre Pozzella and Torre San Leonardo to protect the population from the attacks of the Turks.
In the 1679 the city was sold to the Duke of Giovanni Zevallos who with all his descendants marked a period of tyranny over the city.
It was only after the victory against Napoleon at Waterloo when the Bourbons came to power that Ostuni sent away the Zevallos. In the 1860, when Garibaldi united Italy, Ostuni became part of the new and finally formed nation.