The People in Ostuni

Posted by Wynette: I wanted to write a little bit about why I like this little town. We didn’t really intend to stay here very long. The guide books suggest it’s only got enough sights for one day. But it turns out we’ll be here a week. We seriously considered going up to Assisi, a place we’ve both wanted to see, but it turned out to be hard to get to by train or bus. You can get there but lots of changes over an 8 hour trip. We realize if we were doing this in our 20s or 30s or 40s we wouldn’t have hesitated over such a thing. But, now we prefer not to get too stressed when traveling. We wanted to leave here because weather forecast didn’t look good and Assisi looked better. But then their forecast turned bad, too. Nowhere in the southern half of Italy looked good weather-wise. AND, here in Ostuni we ended up in a little “B&B” that has its own little kitchen (i.e., we get our own breakfast) and we’ve had such fun cooking for ourselves. Every day we walk to the “super mercato” (which is very small by US standards) for milk, meat, sauces, eggs, etc. Then we go to the frutta/verdura (fruit/vegetable) store where they have a wonderful selection of fresh stuff. And we go to the salumeria (deli) for cheese and fresh bread. We’ve made some wonderful lunches and dinners for ourselves. Plus some great egg breakfasts. Eggs are so good and fresh here. Yesterday we finally gave up thinking about going anywhere else before Monday morning when we head for Rome for our last 2 days before heading back to the States.

Ostuni is pretty. It’s on a hill about 4 miles from the Adriatic Ocean. So, as you’re walking around town you catch glimpses of the blue sea. The buildings are painted bright white. I miss the colorful towns of northern Italy, but this is pretty, too. It’s a small town, about 30,000 people. There are few tourists. We see an occasional non-Italian couple here and there. Mostly older people like us. It’s quiet and peaceful. Easy to walk everywhere.

The main reason I like Ostuni is because the people are so kind. I can’t think of anyone who has been impatient with us. People are reserved and friendly at the same time. Does that make sense? They like to be helpful. They’ll laugh with you over things.

Yesterday Charlie ran down to a little market down the street for some bread and butter for breakfast. I told him the Italian word for “butter” is “burro” so he’d know what to ask for. He found the “burro” just fine but then couldn’t remember how to say “bread”. The man in the store figured out what he wanted and then told him “pane” (“pah-nay”) and had him repeat it to be sure he’d remember the word for bread.

One day we passed a man on a ladder with a paint roller and white paint painting one of the ubiquitous white walls in this town. I decided we should take a picture. I snapped the picture then he broke out into a big smile and 3 old women who were standing below him all started laughing at him for getting his picture taken. But it was all good-natured. Soon we were all laughing together.

We did our laundry day before yesterday. (There’s a lavanderia very close to our place.) The woman who works there was so patient and helpful showing us how to use the machines, pick out the soap, etc. She didn’t speak any English but we managed to communicate. When we left I asked her if I could take her picture. She seemed surprised but was happy for us to do so. I wish I’d had it together enough to tell her the reason I wanted to take her picture was because she was so kind. This morning I thought of the words: “molto gentile” (mole-toe jen-ti-lay”).

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Here’s a picture of Ostuni’s white walls with the sea in the background:

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3 thoughts on “The People in Ostuni”

  1. Sorry you didn’t get to Assisi! But – now you have a ‘reason’ (excuse) for another trip to Italy! 🙂 No flat, straight streets in Ostuni! Good for the heart!

    I think I will have a slice of toasted “pane” for breakfast! The language seems rather like Spanish: a = ah, e = long a! Huh? Mom

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  2. Interesting that the word for bread is virtually the same- pane vs pan, where the word for butter is so different- burro vs manteca. You definitely wouldn’t want to go into a store in Spain asking for “burro,” lest you get some very odd looks. [Burro = donkey in Spanish, and also can be used as an insult.]

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