‘Charming little Gem in the heart of the trulli region’
Cisternino is a sweet little town in the province of Brindisi located right next to other gems, such as Martina Franca and Locorondo. It is in the heart of Puglia’s trulli region that makes the most scenic (and my all time favourite) drive when exploring the little towns of Valle d’Itria.
Surprisignly we have put a blind eye to Cisternino’s existance, even though we have been driving around (and criss-cross) the region for many years, thus we were happy to discover something new! We randomly drove to Cisternino from Masseria Palombara one morning and came back for lunch another day as we were curious to try their butcher style restaurant.
Listed as one the most beautiful small town of Italy, Cisternino has its obvious charm with a hint of Greek influence (originally found by greek settlers), Medieval style architecture where streets intertwine with beautiful archways, bleached streets, hidden courtyards and balconies awash in flowers. The Torre Civica is the gateway to the historic centre that seems to be remained virtually intact for centuries. Visit the 13th century Church of San Nicola sits on the foundation of the former Greek orthodox monastery and breath in the countryside views spotting cone-shaped trulli roofs in one of the cozy parks. Elderly men sit in shaded park benches in little groups and elderly women often sweep in front of their homes arranging flower pots keeping everything in pristine condition. Cisternino has a similar look to Locorotondo and it’s easy to fall in love with its understated charm.
The day starts with locals sipping on espresso at little piazzas with large white umbrellas, when the town only starts to awake. Boutiques open far later in little towns in the South and here, it’s perfectly acceptable to enjoy a slow morning while reading the paper. Nobody is running around and there is a respect for time here. As evening progresses, people gather for an aperitivo to wind down from the day. Community seems to be tight, a bit artsy and the ambiance is charming. For the size of the little town, it seems to have a numerous amount of different cafes and restaurants, and macelleria-eateries, meat markets where you choose what you want and they grill or roast it for you while you wait. Little did we know that this town is famous for its barbecuing butchers, this was a total treat for my meat lover husband. We ate ourselves into a total food coma from having a 1kg t-bone steak, local sausages/parcels (filled with mince, cheese and ham, carpaccio, baked potato etc. We sat outside with a carafe of local wine and indulged in total goodness, finishing the meal off with a strong espresso from little plastic cups. Not only is this eating style economical, it brings a sense of togetherness, you see the fresh produce in front of you and it’s simple, the way it should be.
The darling square of Piazza Vittorio Emanuele seems to be the heart of the town. With a tiny chocolate shop (chocolab) to your right and the clock tower in front, let the little roads lead you its tiny charming streets. Start your morning at the tiny cafe ‘Bistrot food art & design’ and sip on some rich cappuccino sitting in the light sun in one of the mosaic tables observing people go by. Have a bruschetta and extra avocados and let the coffee work it’s magic on you. Stroll around the beautiful town, make sure to stop at the Via Giulio II for the most envious flower spilling balconies. Visit the little boutiques and make your way to lunch at the butcher style Al Vecchio Fornello.