Cisternino is one of the most charming villages of the beautiful Valle d’Itria, in the region of Puglia. Significantly lesser known than other small towns nearby such as Alberobello (the Trulli town), Locorotondo and Martina Franca, Cisterino, Puglia will reward you with nice vistas of cobbled alleys; beautifully decorated doors and windows; a selection of churches and plazas and the famous trulli (yes, they aren’t just in Alberobello!).
More than anything else, however, what you will love about Cisternino is the quaint atmosphere – the impression that life follows a slower pace here; the feeling that people truly enjoy life and the company of each other.
Have I made you curious? Continue reading and discover what to see and do in Cisternino, Puglia, and how to plan your trip there.
What To Do In Cisternino, Puglia
The best thing to do to enjoy Cisternino is to simply go for a walk and peak at all its narrow alleys, small squares and lovely corners. Here are some things you should not miss when visiting.
Check out the Ponte della Madonnina
Despite its name, the Ponte della Madonnina is not a bridge proper – rather a pedestrian bridge. There are stairs in the middle and you can go up and walk along to take in the views of the lovely buildings around.
Get incredible views of the Trulli
For a wonderful view of the valley and the local trulli, go to the Villa Comunale. It’s a small urban park close to the Chiesa Matrice, with war memorial at its center that dates back to 1924.
Visit St. Nicholas Church
The 14th century church dedicated to San Nicola (St. Nicholas) is locally known as the Chiesa Matrice and is the most notable in the village. You will find it close to Piazza Garibaldi. Make sure to pop inside to admire the 1517 Madonna del Cardellino statue – a Madonna with child and offerers statue that is a great example of Apulian Renaissance art.
And the nearby Torre Normanno Sveva
Known locally as Torre Grande, the Torre Normanno Sveva was built in the 11th century for defensive purposes on the highest hill in Cisternino, and owes its name to Frederick II of Swabia. One of the few remaining towers of 12 that were built along the walls, in the 19th century it became property of the church, and in more modern times it’s been used as the office of the local municipality and as a space for events and exhibits. It’s right in front of the Chiesa Matrice, so you can’t miss it!
Check out the Torre Amati, Torre Capece and Chiesa Nuova
Defensive towers in Cisternino used to be equally distant from one another, and some had a quadrangular base, whereas others were cylindrical. Torre Capece, also known as Torre del Vento (wind tower), and Torre Amati are the only two cylindrical ones remaining.
Torre Amati is located about halfway between the Church of San Quirico and the Chiesa Matrice, on the Ponte della Madonnina I have mentioned above and facing the Valle d’Itria. Between the 17th and the 18th century it was actually incorporated in the building of the Amati Palace, so you can’t really see it unless you pay attention.
Torre del Vento was named Torre Capece because at the end of the 19th century it was incorporated in the Palazzo Riccio-Capece.
Pass by the Porta Piccola
Literally meaning “small door”, and called Porta Piccénne in the local dialect, this is actually an arch among other buildings that back in the day used to be the main gate to the village. You will find it in the historic center of Cisternino. Walk past it and you’ll be able to also spot the Palazzo del Governatore.
Another building worth noting immediately after the Porta Piccola is the small Church of Santa Lucia. This lovely church has two entrances – a central one with a rose window right above, and a smaller side one. Inside, there are some lovely frescoes – though in need of restoration.
Hang out in Piazza dell’Orologio
Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II is normally referred to as Piazza dell’Orologio as this is where the 1850 clock tower is located. It’s the real heart of Cisternino. Hang out there to catch a bit of local action. You will find a nice café, and nearby there are some good restaurants to grab a bite.
Practical Tips To Plan Your Trip
Guided tours of Cisternino
Cisterino is actually very small and you won’t have trouble exploring independently, but a guided tour will definitely provide insightful information you may not get otherwise.
To book your guided walking tour of Cisternino, click here.
How to get to Cisternino, Puglia
Puglia calls for a road trip and having a car will certainly make your life easier. You can rent it directly at Bari or Brindisi Airport, as soon as you land.
Check out the prices of car rental here.
One thing to keep in mind is that while having a GPS or using Google maps will certainly help you navigate Puglia and the lovely Valle d’Itria, you should also trust road signs. Google Maps for some reason loves sending you along the roads that are shorter in terms of km, but not necessarily the best.
Once you get to Cisternino, you won’t have troubles finding a parking spot. Depending on the time of day and the area where you park your car, you will have to pay a small fee.
By public transport
Cisternino is well connected to other cities in Puglia by train. It takes about 45 minutes to travel from Bari central station to Cisternino, and tickets cost only €5.30 – you can get them here.
Where to stay in Cisternino
Should you decide to use Cisternino as your base for your Valle d’Itria trip, you won’t have troubles finding convenient accommodation options. Here are the ones I have selected for you:
PALAZZO MARGHERITA – Located in the historic heart of Cisternino, this property features beautiful, spacious rooms decorated in classic style. Rooms are equipped with a kitchenette and breakfast is available for a small additional fee. You can book it here.
TRULLO SUITE – If you’d like to stay in one of the beautiful trulli Puglia is famous for, this is great option and very conveniently priced. There’s even a pool for guests to enjoy. You can book it here.
MASSERIA PEPPETURRO – If you would like to stay in a place that’s immersed in the countryside, this one is for you. The spacious rooms are decorated in a traditional style and there’s a large pool to splash at the end of a day spent exploring the region. You can book it here.
Looking to plan a trip to Puglia? These posts will come in handy:
- The Best Itinerary For A Puglia Road Trip
- A Guide To Valle D’Itria, Puglia
- The Best Things To Do In Bari
- A Short Guide To Polignano A Mare
- A Short Guide To Monopoli
- A Short Guide To Ostuni
- A Short Guide To Locorotondo
- A Short Guide To Alberobello
- A Short Guide To Martina Franca
- The Best Things To Do In Lecce
- What You Must Know Before Visiting Puglia