Discovering Alberobello

Today, I’ll take you back to Apulia but this time to the outback to discover Alberobello and its trullos. A village that, notwithstanding tourism, has managed to keep a lot of its magic with its characteristic buildings, the trullos, that stand out with their peaky roofs, and with the many local traditions.

It’s probably because of this that Alberobello was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Actually the particular architecture of the “village of trullos” is unique. Last week I finally had the chance to visit it. It’s a stopover that is not to be missed if you happen to spend a holiday in Apulia.

Alberobello, the village of the trullos, has become well known because of these small houses built with dry stones that have become typical of this place. This architecture originated from an expedient employed in the second half of the XVII century by the Count of Conversano, the local feudatory. In order to increase the prominence and the population of the feud, he invited the population to move here offering special benefits.

However, at that time feudatories had to pay a tribute to the Kingdom for the creation of new settlements. So he used the expedient to build a new village, but with houses made of dry stones, in order to be able to tear them down in a hurry in case of an inspection. As the story goes an inspection happened and the inhabitants of Alberobello managed to demolish their trullos in one night, so the royal inspectors found only some stones scattered around.

Take half a day to visit the village if you are spending a holiday in Apulia. My advice is to enjoy also a few days in the outback. Not far from Alberobello you will find some other noteworthy locations, like the Castellana Caves and Martina Franca. Martina Franca is a lively city, ideal for spending a dinner out among the active streets and typical butchers’ shops. Equipped with barbecues, they cook “bombette” (small bombs), typical Apulia meat rolls (also known as “Alberobello bombette”) and delicious grilled meat.

While strolling in Alberobello enjoy a refreshing break with the local drink: iced coffee with almond milk, really a delight.

There are two typical neighborhoods where you can see the trullos. The most historical area, full of monuments, is Rione Monti. Also Rione Aia Piccola belongs to the historical center. Both, besides being UNESCO World Heritage sites, are also national landmarks.
On many domes you’ll notice white drawings. This is an example of how they used to communicate their religious beliefs, from Christian to more esoteric ones. In other cases they had a greeting aim. Some trullos are still inhabited and residents are very kind. If you’re lucky you’ll have the opportunity to see the interior of one of them.

There are other sights you cannot miss in Alberobello: the trullo-shaped Saint Anthony’s Church, the Siamese twins trullos (conjoined just like two twin brothers) and the Love House (near Piazza del Popolo) named after its first inhabitant. It was the first house built with foundations and with lime.

Also stop a while to visit Trullo Sovrano (“Sovereign”), the biggest trullo in town, nowadays used as a museum and location for summer events.

Finally, a local fun fact. During previous years, Alberobello has been chosen as set for many movies. The last one was “Che Bella Giornata” (What a Beautiful Day) by Checco Zalone in 2010, the first one was “Idillio Infranto” (Broken Idyll), in 1930, one of the last Italian silent movies directed by Nello Mauri.