Welcome to Cisternino, a captivating town nestled in the picturesque region of Puglia, Italy. With its whitewashed buildings, narrow streets adorned with art and decorative swings, and a rich history waiting to be discovered, Cisternino offers an unforgettable travel experience. Join me as we delve into the top things to do in this enchanting destination.
How to Get to Cisternino?
Cisternino is easily accessible by both train and car.
If you're arriving by train, Cisternino is well-connected by train and close to Martina Franca. From the Cisternino train station, you have to walk for approximately 15 minutes flat then uphill towards Cisternino. On your way, you will be lucky to view some trulli on the countryside.
Rent a Car
For those seeking more flexibility and convenience, renting a car is highly recommended. Puglia offers stunning countryside views and hidden gems waiting to be discovered at your own pace. Having a car allows you to explore not only Cisternino but also other nearby towns and attractions with ease.
1. Enjoy Panoramic Views at Villa Communale
Kickstart your exploration by visiting Villa Comunale Giuseppe Garibaldi where you can enjoy panoramic views of trulli (traditional Apulian stone houses) dotting the countryside. This stop is perfect if you arrived by train as it serves as an entry point before reaching the historic center.
2. Explore the Centro Storico
Immerse yourself in the charm of Cisternino's historic center as you wander through its narrow alleys lined with whitewashed buildings adorned with vibrant art pieces on walls. Take a moment to capture the essence of this unique town by posing on one of the decorative swings found along the streets. Don't forget to check out Torre Normanno Sveva, an ancient Norman Swabian tower dating back to the 12th-13th century.
3. Visit Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II
Located at the heart of Cisternino, Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II is a bustling square where you can relax, people-watch, and soak up the colorful atmosphere of the artisanal shop that line the square. Marvel at Torre dell'Orologio (Clock Tower) standing tall in all its glory.
We also found one of the best gelaterias in Puglia here. The gelato at Carparelli were outstanding. The combination of lemon and basil alongside creamy ricotta was a delightful flavor pairing.
We also tried some artisanal chocolates from the Chocolab Pasticceria.
4. Admire the Church of San Nicola
Make sure to visit the beautiful Church of San Nicola in Cisternino's town center. This historical church is known for its intricate facade and provides a serene setting for reflection and appreciation of architectural beauty.
5. Learn Apulian Cuisine through Cooking Classes
Immerse yourself in Apulian culture by joining a cooking class that offer hands-on experiences in preparing 5 kinds of typical dishes from the region using fresh local ingredients. Not only will you learn about traditional recipes but also gain insights into the way of life of locals in this region.
6. Wine Tasting in Cisternino
Puglia is renowned for its wine production, and Cisternino offers opportunities to indulge in wine tasting experiences at local wineries. Discover exquisite flavors as you sample some of the region's finest wines, including Primitivo, which has gained international acclaim.
7. Sample Local Cuisine
No trip to Cisternino would be complete without savoring its delectable cuisine! Treat yourself to orecchiette pasta, seafood dishes, and the local specialty known as "bombette" - grilled meat rolls filled with flavorsome ingredients, the one we tried had capocollo ham but others also add cheese or chili.
We had lunch at Le Chicche di Zia Rosa which is a cozy trattoria that captures the essence of Apulian cuisine, offering a rich lunch experience.
Another experience you can try is look for a fornello pronto which is a macelleria (butcher shop) where you can also dine in. So you choose the meat and they cook it for you fresh. You will know if a macelleria offers this if there are dining tables in their shop.
8. Discover Cisternino's Countryside
Take a leisurely stroll or join a bike tour to explore the picturesque countryside surrounding Cisternino.
Consider joining an e-bike tour that takes you through the charming villages of Valle d'Itria while indulging in tastings of typical local products.
I recommend this highly rated and easy e-bike tour, you will discover the historic centers of Cisternino and Locorotondo. Starting from Martina Franca, ride along scenic roads with little traffic, passing through the Pugliese Aqueduct's Ciclovia to Ashram Bole Baba. After a stop in Cisternino's historic center, continue to Locorotondo on the cycle route.
9. Shop at the Weekly Local Market
If you happen to be visiting on a Monday, don't miss out on this bustling market located at Via Dante Alighieri and Regina Margherita. This market moves around in different towns in Apulia during the week so we've seen this market in other towns. It's a huge local market that offers fresh produce and Italian clothes at a bargain price.
It's open from 730am until 1pm but we've seen stalls in other towns pack up by noon.
10. Join a Private Tour of Cisternino
If time is limited but you want to make the most out of your visit, consider joining a 2-hour private tour that offers insights into the charming village of Cisternino. With a knowledgeable guide by your side, explore historic landmarks such as the Church of San Nicola and admire views over the scenic Itria Valley while getting lost in narrow alleys brimming with old-world charm.
Where to Stay in Cisternino?
Cisternino can be done on a day trip but the disadvantage is you don't get to see it in the best light which is at sunrise or sunset. There's also a romantic vibe in the village at night as some streets are adorned with string lights. And there are a lot of restaurants and bars that are only open for dinner. This can also make a good base for your Puglia trip as there's a good train connection.
Our base was in Martina Franca but I researched on the best accommodation in Cisternino that you can get for every budget.
If you're traveling solo a budget, you can get a dorm bed at Ostello dei Giardini di Pomona. This hostel is located in a quiet area with a beautiful garden.
If you're a couple, you can share a one-bedroom apartment at La Lanterna. This is also perfectly located in the center of Cisternino.
For those seeking a bit more comfort and convenience, Suite Fronte Valle has a one-bedroom apartment with a balcony and amazing views of the Itria Valley and is also in the center of Cisternino.
Pamper yourself in a hot tub at Dimora Alfieri. It's a one-bedroom house in the historic centre of Cisternino.
As we come to the end of our journey through the captivating town of Cisternino, Puglia's hidden gem, let's recap some of the highlights we've explored:
- Marvel at panoramic views from Villa Communale Giuseppe Garibaldi
- Get lost in the narrow alleys and admiring the unique art on the walls of the historic center
- Indulging in local cuisine, from bombette to fresh pasta dishes, and try a gelato at Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II
- Explore the countryside with its ancient olive groves and vineyards
- Immerse yourself in Apulian culture through cooking classes and wine tastings
Cisternino offers a delightful blend of history, gastronomy, and natural beauty that will leave you with lasting memories. Whether you're seeking a romantic getaway or a cultural exploration, Cisternino has something for every traveler.