Perhaps the most popular tourist destination from Puglia, is the small town of Alberobello. “The city of the Trulli”, how is often called, resembles nothing else you have seen before. A “Trullo” (the singular from Trulli) is the name of an unusual type of dwelling: round white walls, gray conical roofs with a point and no windows.
Although you’ll find countless “trulli” in many more areas from the Itria Valley, Alberobello collected the biggest number of them in one place, being today a UNESCO protected site.
This place has the appearance of a fantasy town or perhaps the stage of a theater play… But no fairy and no smurfs will show up. Because these “trulli” are real households, and they were inhabited by whole families since at least 600 years ago. It’s true that today many of them are transformed into souvenir shops, small museums and vacation hotels, but centuries ago they were homes.
They may seem simple and actually this simplicity makes them all the more impressive. They were built from the bottom all the way up to the roof, from rocks that were found in abundance in the region. Only in the last 200 years mortar was used to keep the parts “glued” together. Before that, the builders were only relying on the round shape and the gravity. We really need to appreciate the cleverness of the people, because there’s a reason they came up with this construction technique. Back in those medieval times, people were having a harsh existence under the rule of the Kingdom of Neaples, that had imposed high taxes for the households. But the “trullo”, having this unusual shape was not considered a “house”. And in fact, when rumor came in town that the tax gatherers were approaching, the “trullo” was demolished over night but was rebuilt again after the “danger” had been gone away.
However, they are by no means weak buildings. So many of them lasted more than half a millennium after all.
Where to find the picture perfect spots?
The higher, panoramic spots were my favorite places for taking the pictures. Santa Lucia View Point, from Piazza Plebiscito is easy to find and in the heart of the town.
Leaving this square, we crossed the main boulevard called Largo Martellotta and entered the oldest part of the town and the most beautiful, called Monti District. Some of the souvenir shops will let you go up on the roof, where you can take as many pictures as you want, having a 360 degree view of the old town. But Italians know how to make money out of tourism, because there’s a trade off: you have to buy a souvenir on your way out. The shop I found, with a panoramic terrace, was located no 26, Via Monte Sabotino.
The most famous trulli
Trullo Sovrano (translates to King), just like the name suggests, is the most imposing of them all, because it’s the only one to have been built on two floors. Comparing it with the other dwellings, it has quite an impressive number of rooms that are today decorated with unique traditional belongings from the Village of Alberobello. The entrance ticket was 3EUR.
The Church of Sant’Antonio is the only church to keep the aspect of a trullo and it’s quite young comparing it with the others trulli, having a little under 100 years of life.
The Siamese Trullo is among the most ancient. It appears like two round huts blended into one longer body, but both cones were kept. Or, even better, imagine the back of a camel with two humps 🙂 Only a part of this construction is painted white, the rest has been preserved to its initial aspect. Because the white painting on the exterior walls that we see today on most of the trulli is a modern addition. In those older times, very few inhabitants would spend time to paint a trullo, knowing the next day there were high chances to have it demolished.
You’ll notice unusual symbols on the cones of many of the trulli. Some of them are Christian signs, some of them are considered magical or primitive symbols and they were painted by the people as a way to keep them protected.
Magic symbols painted on the cones of the trulli
Sleep in a Trullo
To have a complete experience of the town, you have to spend the night inside a trullo. We really enjoyed our stay at Trulileu Guesthouse. Although it’s not situated in the heart of the town, you arrive in less than 10 minutes to Monti District, the historic part of the town. And a big bonus, we also had access to the roof to admire once more the greay sea of cones from the town of Alberobello.
Read all about our entire roadtrip to Puglia: