If you visit the Spanish region of Andalucia, you will surely take the Route of the White Hill Towns (Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos). Also the Italians have their Città Bianche (White Cities) which are 12 in number but spread out in several Italian regions. Puglia is the winner with 7 of them (Alberobello, Ostuni, Locorotondo, Cisternino, Martina Franca, Ceglie Messapica, Molfetta e Trani), followed by Sicily (Siracusa and l’isola bianca di Levanzo), Basilicata with Matera, Campania – Atrani, Marche – Ascoli Piceno.
The area of Città Bianche in Puglia is dotted by these 7 small postcard-pretty settlements with narrow winding white-washed and extremely clean streets. They are characterized as white cities because of the white lime used for sanitizing places in the 17th century. The small towns and villages give a real rustic feel and numerous food temptations prepared from unique, natural and fresh ingredients. Apart from this the area offers magnificent views and landscape. As to the history, it is amazing dating back to thousands of years ago.
Martina Franca is one extremely spectacular town of the Itria Valley (la Valle d’Itria). It’s situated in the Province of Taranto and is the second biggest city after the City of Taranto. It has a pretty nice Old Town which is embraced by stone walls with Baroque city gates here and there. Le piazze aren’t large, the streets are tiny, narrow and winding.
Ostuni is another amazing white city in Apulia whose buildings and houses are dressed into white lime. Its labyrinth of narrow streets tempt you to get lost by “telling you”: “Hey, you … Yes, you, don’t be afraid. Take me and see what I can offer you. Don’t get frightened because the Aragonese walls and the three hills the town is situated on have always protected us and they will protect you as well”.
Of course, every tourist’s route goes through the capital of trulli. Alberobello is a must for every visitor in Puglia. The 14th century “fantasy-in-stone” town is simply a place taken from a fairy-tale with its whitewashed houses. I trulli (il trullo is the singular form) are a common view in and around the Itria Valley, peppering the countryside. There are about 1500 similar in an urban environment in the region of Puglia in Italy. They are spread out everywhere, even as sheds in olive groves. But Alberobello is the capital of trulli because it is home to the highest concentration of these “trulli fiabeschi” (fairy-tale trulli houses) in the region of Apullia.
The nearby town of Locorotondo is another pearl in the sea of white-houses in Puglia. Like Alberobello this paesino (little town) has its own style of houses. Trulli disappear here and they are substituted for cummerse. These are narrow rectangular dwellings with pointed gable roofs. Not the houses but the town’s plan gives the name to Locorotondo (i.e. “rotund”or “roundish”).
Cisternino is another white city that is situated only a few kilometers from the sea. Its white-washed houses are everywhere in the historic centre. The remains of an old church were found under the fundamentals of the Church “Madre di San Nicola”. Molfetta is the pearl of the Adriatic Sea Coast. Trani is the artistic and architectural treasure of Apullia while Ceglie Messapica is the most ancient city of Puglia.
Now we are moving to the Island of Sicily where the Ancient Greeks left their heritage. The two white cities of the island are Siracusa and l’isola bianca di Levanzo which were constructed from the white stone called “giuggiulena”. Going back to the mainland, we shouldn’t omit Matera in Basilicata which is known as the town of sassi. Then Atrani comes whose white houses are inhabited by only 845 residents. And last but not least is the town of Ascoli Piceno which is the travertine jewel of Italy.