The Essential Guide to Valle d’Itria, Puglia

Trulli, olive oil, white wine, capocollo ham, easy access to some of the nicest beaches in Italy and picturesque towns: this is Valle d’Itria. This area in central Puglia includes white, characteristic towns like Ostuni, Cisternino, Locorotondo, Martina Franca, and – of course Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.

Despite its name (Valle means Valley in English) Valle d’Itria is not a typical valley but rather a Karstic depression that runs between Locorotondo, Cisternino and Martina Franca. This geological phenomenon has also created the beautiful caves of Castellana Grotte, one of the most important attractions of Puglia and natural heritage of inestimable value to Italy. The Caves of Castellana attract tourists from all over the world.

All the towns in Valle d’Itria are worth visiting: Ostuni is also known as the Città Bianca (white city) for the color of the houses painted in lime and the streets covered in limestone. White is the color that dazzles the eyes when it happens to look to Ostuni. A blinding white. Immense. That colors every wall, every house, small or big.

In Cisternino, the Orange Flag is waved: it is the environmental tourism quality mark of the Italian Touring Club. Cisternino is well known for being a very elegant town, where locals as well as tourists meet up in the piazza to enjoy an aperitif.

Locorotondo is a lovely town, thus named for its shape (loco = place; rotondo = round shaped). The toponym recalls the characteristic shape of the town, a collection of small white houses arranged on concentric rings.

And of course, probably the best known town in Valle d’Itria is Alberobello. Everybody in the world has seen at least once in their life the image of its small, characteristic houses with a cone shape, called trulli. The trulli are remarkable examples of corbelled dry-stone construction, a prehistoric building technique still in use in Puglia. These structures, dating from as early as the mid-14th century, characteristically feature pyramidal, domed, or conical roofs built up of corbelled limestone slabs.

Food lovers too will not be left wanting! Each town in the Valle d’Itria has its own speciality, whether it is the capocollo ham of Martina Franca, the meat bombette of Cisternino (barbecued directly by the butcher for you) or the DOC white wine of Locorotondo. Of course the olive oil is supreme and burratina chees is memorable! In Cisternino, look out for rosticceria butchers where you can choose your meat and have it cooked there and then on a hot grill.

In terms of pasta, orecchiette with cime di rapa is a must-try. The name of the pasta comes from its shape, which resembles that of small ears and they are hand made.

Thanks to Puglia’s long slender shape, even if you are in the centre of the Valle d’Itria you are never far from the sea, whether it’s the Adriatic or Ionic sea.

It seems obvious, then, that the Valle d’Itria offers a full and various range of holiday activities for all the family. So why not make it your next destination?

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