Locorotondo is a small town in the region of Puglia in southern Italy. It is situated between Martina Franca and Alberobello in the Valle d’Itria, a green stretch of countryside dotted with the famous whitewashed cone-roofed trulli houses. It is officially one of the Borghi più belli d’Italia, the most beautiful villages in Italy. As well as its picturesque appearance the town is also known for its wine production. The town lies in the Province of Bari.
Things to see in Locorotondo
Locorotondo doesn’t really have any specific tourist attractions; the town itself is the main sight. It’s just a pleasant place to spend an hour or two wandering, taking photographs and sitting at cafe tables. If you are touring by car, it makes a nice peaceful stop, and its location on a railway line means that public transport travellers too can easily break a journey here.
The historic part of town – the centro storico – is circular and perched on top of a hill. It’s a whitewashed maze of little lanes lined with historic buldings, some humble and faded, others retaining rather grand baroque archways and architectural details. As well as the little rural trulli houses, which you can see outside Locorotondo, this area is also notable for another unusual type of building. These are houses with pointed gable roofs – uncommmon in Italy – called cummerse. You’ll see whitewashed examples of these in Locorotondo’s tightly-packed centro storico. It’s a pretty and well-cared-for centre, with flower pots ornamenting external stone staircases and balconies.
Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, at the top of the hill (see our directions from the railway station below), is the nearest thing to a busy hub in the old town. It is a small square with a cafe and a tourist information office where you can pick up maps and leaflets. Opposite is a little park with views over the countryside below.
There are a few churches to visit in Locorotondo, although you may be unlucky – as we were – and find some closed. One of the most notable is the attractive Romanesque Chiesa della Madonna della Greca which dates to the twelfth or thirteenth century, and has a central rose window.
A panoramic street encircles part of the hilltop town centre, and offers great views over the Valle d’Itria. A patchwork of field, vineyard and olive grove is dotted with the cone-shaped roofs of trulli houses and farms. If you have a hire car, you may well have explored some of the quiet rural roads of the area. If you are depending on public transport, Locorotondo offers a good chance for close-up views of the countryside. It’s possible to wander down little lanes from the town centre and find yourself between fields in a matter of minutes, with picturesque views back to Locorotondo on its hill. Although the little trains afford good views, we appreciated this chance to see the countryside at more leisure – until we were scared by aggressive guard dogs, anyway. Watch out for both dogs and speeding traffic on the narrow lanes outside town.
Locorotondo hedges its bets with two patron saints. San Giorgio (St. George) is celebrated with a market fair on the 22nd and 23rd April, and San Rocco (St. Roch) is awarded a day of musical celebrations (called la Diana) finishing off with fireworks on the 16th August.
Locorotondo is known for its wine, which you’ll find in restaurants throughout the Puglia region. The principal wine produced locally is white and lightly sparkling. It’s cheap and decent; certainly good enough to take home to your holiday trullo for an evening drink. There are also local reds and other whites, still and sparkling.
The main wine producer is a historic co-operative called the Cantina Sociale del Locorotondo. It dates to the 1930s, and managed to obtain a prized DOC classification for the local white wine in 1969. The headquarters are on Via Madonna della Catena, across the railway just below town – it’s close to the station so is handy for train travellers. It sells directly to the public, so you can wander in to taste the different wines and buy cheap bottles either singly or in bulk. An isolated trullo sits in the middle of the car park, with more smartened-up trulli down a lane alongside.
The principal airports for Puglia are Bari and Brindisi, both served by budget airlines from the United Kingdom. Locorotondo is on a little regional railway line, operated by a company called FSE, and can be reached by direct train from Bari, around 50 miles away. Note that the train service is replaced by buses on Sundays.
The railway station is outside the main part of town, on the plain. It is only a short walk to reach the historic heart of town. From the front of the station walk to your right along Via Martiri della Liberta. Then turn left on the main road, Via Madonna della Catena. Continue walking up this road until you reach Piazza Aldo Moro, where the town hall is situated. Then take the road to the right, Corso XX Settembre, which leads up to Piazza Vittorio Emanuele and the centro storico.
Locorotondo is conveniently-placed for exploring the rest of the Valle d’Itria, and it is on the little FSE railway line between the more famous destinations of Martina Franca and Alberobello (each town is just a few minutes’ train ride away). It combines well with these towns as part of a tour either by car or train. We visited Locorotondo as part of a day trip from Alberobello, combining it with a longer visit to Martina Franca. Other sights in the area include the show-caves at Castellana Grotte, and the ‘white towns’ of Ostuni and Cisternino.
If you are travelling around Puglia by public transport, you’ll probably find Alberobello or Martina Franca more practical for overnight stays, with more transport, restaurant and shopping options. Those driving hire-cars, on the other hand, will probably be tempted by some of Puglia’s lovely countryside accommodation. If, however, you fancy spending a night in this charming litttle town, you can sleep below the pointed gables of Locorotondo in one of the mini-apartments of Sotto le Cummerse, an albergo diffuso (‘scattered hotel’).
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