For the 26th consecutive year, the nearly 20km (12 mi.) length of incomparable coastline just below Ostuni, La Città Bianca (The White City) — my adopted hometown — in the Puglia region of southeastern Italy, has been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag designation by the Federation for Environmental Education (FEE).
Known locally as the Marina di Ostuni, this unspoiled stretch — from Pilone, Rosa Marina and Monticelli in the north, to Villanova and it’s quaint port in the middle, down to Costa Merlata, Santa Lucia and Torre Pozzelle in the south — is a patchwork of long sandy beaches, dunes, intimate inlets and jagged, rocky extensions jutting out over the pristine waters of the pastel-colored Adriatic Sea.
And, keeping vigil along the seafront are several 16th century Aragonese watchtowers, once part of a system of towers put in place by Emperor Charles V all along the Pugliese coast to alert local armies and the citizenry of an imminent attack by pirates or Saracen invaders looking for a spot to come ashore and plunder.
When I’m not out and about hunting for abandoned trulli, those dry-stone abodes with conical-shaped roofs that dot the Valle d’Itria where I live, I like to head down to the coast, breathe in the fresh air and admire the lush and wild Mediterranean vegetation as I trek across one blue-flag beach after another, especially during wintertime when there is nary a soul in sight.
Only a 15-min. drive from my house to the coast, I really can’t favor one stretch of velvety sand or rocky crag over another. They are all so surprisingly beautiful in their own unique way. If your travels ever take you to La Città Bianca, make it a point to venture down to the Marina di Ostuni and admire the Adriatic Sea. Why, you might even see me waving a blue flag.