Alberobello: town of the Trulli
Puglia, the heel of the ‘boot’, conceals various cities rich in history and tradition, one of these is Alberobello: unique in nature. We talked about it in what to do around Bari but now we want to help you discover all of its secrets.
The town of the Trulli is about 35 minutes by car from our Barion Hotel & Conference Centre. You can’t miss the chance to see with your own eyes one of the 51 Italian sites classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
The name of this city comes from modern Greek, meaning “dome”, and refers to the shape of the ancient dry stone conical constructions of prehistoric origin. Alberobello represents the Trulli capital, in fact the historic centre is completely constructed of these spectacular conical-shaped buildings, which make it unique in the world.
Our trip starts from Piazza del Popolo where you can enjoy a breathtaking view: in front of you, you will see the 1030 Trulli of the Monti district while on your left the 590 of the Aia Piccola district.
Alberobello, the town of Trulli: Aia Piccola District
Aia Piccola could be defined as a diamond in the rough, enclosed by towering Trulli. The Trulli are diligently arranged next to each other in conical, cylindrical and peaked shapes. The district takes its name from a space formerly used for threshing grain created when Aia Grande was no longer sufficient to store the harvest. Aia Piccola remains a purely residential area and in fact there is little commercial activity.
Strolling through the streets of Aia Piccola, you will be amazed by the infinite purity of this place, every view is unique and always seems to be different from the one before. The history of this ancient city is encapsulated within the Land Museum and the Oil Museum which present traditional tools and artefacts (these two museums are managed by the Sylva Association). Also in Aia Piccola is the Wine Museum, located inside the Albea Wine Cellar, you can download the brochure by clicking here.
Alberobello, the town of Trulli: Rione Monti
The majestic village of Rione Monti occupies the southern part of Alberobello. Stroll along its beautiful streets and then head up the hill where the Church of Saint Antonio stands. The Church is unique because of its shape (Trullo, of course), it is surmounted by a dome of 19 cm and was built with donations from people from Puglia who have emigrated to America.
The most famous streets are Via Monte Nero, Via Monte Pasubio and Via Monte San Michele. In this area you will be able to see the only trullo referred to as “siamese”, due to its specific roof composed of two cones. In Rione Monti there are several trulli used as laboratories and shops and it will not be difficult to watch skilled craftsmen create products in stone and fabric. These craftsmen and tradesmen are a fundamental part of Rione Monti in relation to the traditional aspect of the city … do you know why? Because their business has been handed down from generation to generation.
The Trullo Sovrano
The historic centre of Alberobello can be found within the northern zone, reached from Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Here, you can find the Trullo Sovrano, built in the first half of the 700s, representing the only trullo with a raised floor and for this reason it is is called ‘Sovrano’ (sovereign). This building has 12 trulli, at the centre of which stands the majestic Sovrano dome with a height of 14 metres.
The interiors of the Trullo Sovrano were well-designed by master craftsmen (remaining anonymous), making this building unique. Inside the current structures, typical environments of the past were reconstructed with tools, equipment and furniture. Entrance to the Trullo Sovrano is chargeable for adults and for children over 12 years: €1.50. Opening hours are as follows:
- Winter: 10-13.30 and 15.30-18.30
- Summer: 10-13.30 and 15.30-19.30
The Casa d’Amore
Retrace your steps to Piazza del Popolo and look for the Casa d’Amore: the first house built with lime and not formed of trulli, although it is still conical. This home was built when Ferdinand IV of Naples granted the freedom to construct buildings with lime and mortar. The name of the House derives from its first owner Francesco d’Amore, who later became the first mayor of the city.
On the front of the house you’ll notice a small inscription with a phrase:
EX AUCTORITATE REGIA – HOC PRIMUM ERECTUM – A.D. 1797 – BY OFFICIAL AGREEMENT THIS HOUSE WAS THE FIRST BUILT IN LIME
The unique feature of this house is the outside stairs which lead to an upper floor divided into 3 rooms. A historic house and worth visiting for the innovative lime construction but also for the typicality of the trulli. Currently the Casa d’Amore is home to the Department of Tourism and houses inside various art exhibitions and paintings.
POINTS TO NOTE
Trulli roofs are terminated with a peak. There are various explanations for the shapes of the peaks: some argue that they were used by the various manufacturers of Trulli to identify their “brand” or simply for decoration, while others argue that they are derived from primitive symbolism. The shapes symbolise the solar cult practised by agricultural populations until the first century BC and represent the disc, the sphere, the cone, and the square or triangular-based pyramid. Legend has it that these pinnacles were the elements to remove to dismantle the trullo before official inspection, but the structure of the house is not governed by this element, also called “Key to the Trullo”.
Another element that you are sure to notice is the symbol placed on the façade of the Trullo. These symbols are drawn freehand with lime and have pagan magic, Christian or primitive origins. They are drawn on the domes to ward off evil and bring good fortune. About 200 signs have been identified on trulli including those still in use and those described by historians. In addition to good luck symbols they also include ornamental designs such as the initials of the first and last name of the owner, entwined hearts and flowers, not forgetting depictions of agricultural products.
Not just Trulli in Alberobello
The charming town of Alberobello lies between two hills separated by a valley which occupies the lower part. This cavity, which was known as Largo delle Fogge, was occupied by tanks which stored rain water for dry periods and today is named Largo Martellotta.
Don’t forget to visit the Basilica dei Santi Medici Cosma e Damian (patron saints of Alberobello). The story of this Basilica began in the mid-600s, when it was commissioned and built by the counts of Conversano. Initially it was a small church and it is now a majestic neoclassical Basilica. The church was rebuilt and expanded several times and the final modifications are the work of local architect Antonio Curri.
The green area of Alberobello is Bosco Selva. This natural oasis is located only 800 metres from the town centre and in addition to the Trulli del Bosco, it also has countless footpaths and biking routes, playgrounds and picnic areas. It is a paradise for those who love to spend a few hours in contact with nature.
The cuisine is one of the protagonists of this city. Wherever you choose to dine, you will be fascinated by the flavours of Puglia and typical products such as Focaccia and orecchiette with turnip greens: two very famous dishes. Another of the most famous is the “flat” Pasqualino Panino. It was invented in the 60’s by Pasquale dell’Erba, who ran a grocery store and had this idea in order to feed the workers and trulli makers. What do you say to trying this amazing sandwich? You can go to one of the food shops in Alberobello and order a sandwich consisting of sausage, pickles, Pasqualino cheese and tuna!
From every corner of Alberobello you can benefit from wonderful views and landscapes, indeed the whole of Puglia offers breathtaking scenery. Here, time seems to stand still, as in nearby Polignano a Mare. Two cities which are only 20 minutes from each other but are worth visiting and photographing!
If you’re fascinated by Alberobello, come and discover it with us. Take advantage of our tour Apulian traditions, Trulli and Cuisine to get to know the real history of the city of the Trulli.