The idyllic Val d’Itria is quite rightly one of the most photogenic and popular destinations for visitors to Puglia and, within the valley, the town of Alberello with its conical stone trulli is an obvious must see. However, there are other destinations here and the best one to explore has to be Locorotondo. Locorotondo is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and the pretty stone streets of polished stone, together with the white walls all contribute to a sense of light even on the gloomiest of days.
Locorotondo has beautiful photogenic narrow whitewashed alleyways, with splashes of colour here and there, and panoramic views from its terraces, so let's take a walk. Leave your car in the parking lot in Piazza Antonio Mitrano and perhaps grab a coffee in the Agora bar before exiting to the left and then walk around to the modest but fascinating church of Madonna of the Greeks. The origins of this church go back to the seventh and eighth centuries although it was rebuilt at the end of the fifteenth. The thing that may interest you is the carved stone screen behind the altar and, above the figures of Saints Lucy, Peter, Paul and Oronzo, there are the four evangelists identifiable by their symbols, the eagle, winged lion, ox and angel. On the way out, on the left hand side, pause to admire the statue of the lactating Madonna which is most unusual.
Continue on Largo San Rocco, take the first left up the stairs, cross Via Vittorio Veneto and head uphill towards the town centre. Take the first right and follow the alleyway round and then take a left for a short detour to see the delightful chapel of San Nicola of Myra and appreciate the frescoes particularly in the cupola. San Nicola is the saint who eventually became Santa Claus or Father Christmas.
Double back and continue along the alley until you reach the Palazzo Morelli. This is a fabulous example of southern Italian Baroque architecture, the wonderful details of the gateway and balconies just beg to be photographed.
Turn immediately right to enter the main town square. From there take the alley on the left, Via Papalodere, and at the bottom turn left onto Via Aprile through the maze of beautiful whitewashed houses before emerging onto Via Nardelli. Here is where you will find the Italians having their afternoon passeggiata, they will stop and chat to friends or have an aperitivo at one of the many bars.
Enjoy the lovely views from Via Nardello, walking around to the Villa Communale and the Punto Panoramico, over the surrounding countryside, including the winery I Pastini www.itpastini.it. Reluctantly, if you’re staying elsewhere, turn around and head back to the car park, feeling that you have spent a day well in a lovely spot.
For the moment, this little gem is mostly visited only by Italians so my advice would be to enjoy it while it remains relatively undiscovered. It is definitely worth spending a day or two exploring the very pretty town and surrounding area. And a word of advice - wear good walking shoes in Locorotondo; the pavements and streets can be quite slippery.