The following article, written by Jerry Finzi, appears on Grand Voyage Italy.
Ostuni is known as the White City of Apulia, because of its stark white buildings perched high above the plain below.
Located about 5 miles and within sight of the Adriatic coastline, it has a yearround population of about 32,000 inhabitants, but can swell in the tourist season to over 100,000.
Part of the province of Brindisi contains a region with high production of both wine and olive oil. The town is a popular place for expats, especially British and Germans.
It was rebuilt by the Greeks, its name deriving from the Greek Astynéon (“new town”).
The town came under rule of the Romans until the Normans conquered it in 996 AD, and built a medieval town around the summit of the 950 feet high hill, including a castle and four gates (ruins today).
The white color of the town had practical advantages. Since at least the time of the Middle Ages, the lime whitewashing helped keep buildings cool by reflecting the heat of the southern sun. Lime whitewash also has disinfectant properties, helping to slow the spread of disease–this was proven during the Middle Ages, lessening the spread of the Plague.
Lime is readily available in the surroundings of the city since the town itself is built upon three hills of Cretaceous limestone.