Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Wedding Cake Town

Wedding Cake?
This area of Italy is mostly flat, and any lumps or hills were ideal locations to settle, because it allowed you to see the invading Turks in time to run and hide. This problem with the Turks seems to have been a constant one through history, and it is said that although the local dialects are so distinct that people from one town could not understand the "Italian" spoken in another, the one common expression was "The Turks are coming!".

View From Ostuni
Shop in Ostuni
One town that took advantage of a hilltop location was Ostuni, and this town completely covers a round hill sticking up out of an otherwise flat landscape.

Once the problem of constantly invading Turks was resolved (I am sorry, but I do not know the history of this; I'm on vacation not research), the town decided to enhance their favourable position on top of a hill and visible from miles, and they painted the town white. Literately, almost the entire town is painted gleaming white. Driving towards Ostuni, you can see the white dome of the hill for miles, and it really does look like a Wedding Cake. From a distance with the buildings all built so close together, it looks like the entire top of the hill is one white dome of white frosting. This decision to paint the town, has created an upkeep problem however, and during our visit to Ostuni, I saw three men busy with large buckets of white paint.
Ostuni Church

Pass on the Left?
Once you get to the town, you must climb up twisting narrow streets to get the top, where the church sits. Unlike most towns where the church sits proudly dominating the town square, here the square is part way up the hill, and the church sits at the top very tightly surrounded by other houses, probably the rich and powerful who felt being in close proximity to God and church for protection from the Turks was more important than being on the town square.

Ostuni Street
The narrow streets that wind and twist up the hill make driving interesting in Ostuni. Here in Lecce the streets are narrow, but someone had the sense to make most one-way, and many are straight, so even if the street is two way, you can see oncoming vehicles and take action, but in Ostuni, I saw repeated incidents of vehicles coming around a tight corner to find someone coming the other way, causing someone to have to reverse to a wider section. No wonder Smarts, motorized trikes and scooters are the practical choice for many.

Strange, I did not see any wedding shops in the town; you would think that would be a natural fit.

No comments:

Post a Comment