One of the things I love about this area of Puglia is that each little town has it’s own character, it’s own dishes and even almost it’s own climate..”Locorotondo (literally round place,as the roads of the centro storico are laid out almost in concentric circles) is no exception.
Locorotondo’s elevated position, 410 metres above sea level, gives it a cooler climate than the coastal areas, and snow in the winter is not unusual. The area is famous for the production of white wine, grape varieties such as Verdeca, Bombino bianco, Bianco D’Alessano, Fiano Minutolo and Malvasia Bianca being combined to make the classic Locorotondo DOC. The surrounding countryside is green and provides pasture for grazing animals so the area also produces excellent cheese, and traditonal local recipes are more likely to include meat.
The small, but perfectly formed ‘centro storico’ or historic centre has the cobblestoned streets and white washed houses of other local towns but here there are ‘cummerse’- sloping gabled roofs made of grey stone. These can make the town look more sombre in winter but as soon as spring comes the grey of the roofs throws into brillint relief the flowers that seem to cluster on and tumble from window boxes or wrought iron balconies.
The centro storico is just the right size to explore on a leisurely stroll before, or after a meal in one of the three or four restaurants in the immediate area, all of them good. On a summer evening my favourite is Ai Tre Santi, because they are happy for you to just order the excellent antipasti and wine by the glass and they have tables outside surrounded by flowers. I recently had an exquisite meal at Bina Ristorante though, just outside the centro storico, and will definitely go back there too.
The town has no less than seven churchs including the Chiesa Madre di San Giorgio built between 1790 and 1825, on the site of two earlier churches, and dedicated to the town’s patron saint, and my favourite, Chiesa della Madonna della Greca, late Romanesque in style, dating from the 12th/13th century, with a beautiful rose window. The Chiesta di San Nicola is also interesting, built like a temple but with a trullo dome, frescoed on the inside with scenes from the life of St Nicholas.
These are best visited in the morning. In the summer this might prove hot and a bit tiring but at the edge of the historic centre is a little garden with benches and trees for shade. A great place to rest your feet and cool down while you admire the spectacular view over the surrounding countryside…..