Pictures of the floating world

Unique trulli of Alberobello

Have you been to Alberobello, Italy?

By Anna Purpurpurpur

Alberobello is a very unique town in Puglia, Italy which has been enlisted as an UNESCO world heritage. The feature that attracts tourists from all the world is trulli – this is how the traditional small houses there are called (the name is believed to originate from Greek language). Alberobello is very cute – and if you want to calmly pass the time, it’s a place for you! Head to the Rione Monti or Rione Aia Piccola districts of Alberobello. Just stroll along the brightly white streets, wander along the small houses and try to find the smallest trullo of them all! If you’re lucky, you can see the town empty as we did but over the last few years more tourists frequent it in groups, and it can become crowded.

Trulli are built from limestone (the materials can be collected on the neighbouring fields) in a drywall technique that dates back to prehistoric times. All the trulli have only one floor and single standing thus are really small. The only exceptions are Siamese Trulli that is double trullo with two entrances and Trullo Sovrano that has two floors. The stones are supported only by each other with no mortar or other substance holding them together apart from their own weight. Another interesting feature is the thickness of the walls, it can reach 2.70 metres. The conical or pyramidal roofs of trulli are really special too – actually every single trulli has two roofs: the outer and the inner one. They’re decorated with hand made stone pinnacles on top (it’s said to be a mark of different builders that used those stones instead of their signatures) and some roofs have painted whitewashed symbols too.

There are many theories as to how the trulli were invented. The most popular ones are related to the taxation system. The taxes imposed on the property in the 14-15th centuries were high, and the locals came with the brilliant idea: to build the houses that could be easily dismantled (after removing just a keystone, the whole trullo goes into pieces!) when a tax collector is about to arrive. Another story is focusing on the local feudal lord who preferred to avoid paying taxes for the settlements on his lands and ordered his subjects to build easily removable dwellings. Around a few hundreds of the trulli are still standing today although now many trulli are converted into souvenir shops or even cafes. 

What else to see in Alberobello?

If you’d like to explore more, visit the Basilica of Santi Medici Cosma e Damiano, the lake Largo Martellotta or Territory Museum “House Pezzolla on Piazza XXVII Maggio … or go admire trulli in other areas, for instance, in Valle d’Itria. Anyway, you might spend just a few hours (that’s enough to see the town) but that would be a trip to remember.

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