If you go to Puglia (Apulia), you must visit the trulli in the Valle d’Itria. Lucky you, because the valley, smack dab in the center of Puglia, has other lovely sights, including many dazzling white medieval hill towns, endless fields of olive trees, and several fortified farms called masserie. I can’t show you a masseria, because we saw only a couple, and we drove by the best one on a rainy night on a narrow road. Masserie were fortified with thick walls, towers, and other defenses against attacks by foreign invaders or by thieves, and many of these farms have recently been converted into lavish spas. They sound fascinating and I so wanted to see one. Sorry!
One town in the Valle d’Itria, Ostuni, is called the White City. I don’t know why it bears that nickname, since most of the hill towns are bleached white as snow. We visited Locorotondo, Martina Franca, Conversano, Ceglie Messapica, Putignano, and Ostuni, and although Ostuni sits on the highest hill and has a gorgeous view of the sea, the other hill towns seemed much more lively, cheerful, and interesting.
One of my favorite discoveries in the Valle d’Itria is the mal occhio (which means “evil eye”) building decorations that are used to ward off evil. Mean but beautiful, these masks are mounted above the doors of houses and businesses to protect the inhabitants. I wouldn’t want to mess with them!
Another favorite was the interesting building construction in Locorotondo: the cummerse, narrow rectangular town houses with pointed gable roofs that reminded me of the roofs of Belgium or The Netherlands. The streets of this town on a conical hilltop are circular (hence its name, which means “round place”), and the views of the Valle d’Itria were terrific—trulli everywhere!
Walking—and getting lost—in these whitewashed villages is such a treat. But photos speak better than words, so I’ll let them do the talking.
Here’s my advice for the Valle d’Itria. You will go to see the trulli, so pick one or two (or more) nearby hill towns and while away a few hours. The towns are not far apart, so seeing a few is easy. I especially enjoyed Martina Franca and Locorotondo, but all of the hill towns are pleasant and restful.