Selected from a group of hopeful Italian historical sites in 1996 to be added to the UNESCO World Heritage List for its unique architectural importance given its surviving prehistoric construction methods that are still in use to this day, though construction of new buildings of this type is rare, the style and method of stonework is employed for the ongoing maintenance.
City Of Trulli
Located in the heart of the southern Puglia region, Alberobello features the highest volume of trulli-style houses in the area and is often called ‘City of Trulli‘ by locals.
The history of the village and the reasoning behind this curious style of housing is due to the financial taxation of the region by the King of Naples somewhere around the middle of the 16th Century. The taxation was against new settlements of farmers springing up around the region without the permission of the local count and the Kingdom of Napoli, and in order to avoid the persecution from tax inspectors as they rode across the country collecting taxes, the towns people of the region created the solution of the trullo and it’s easily deconstructed buildings – by pulling one particular stone, the whole roof collapses – that appears just as a pile of stones should the taxman come knocking.
Whilst these curious-looking houses may appear like teepees from a distance, when up close you’ll see that they do bare more of a resemblance to older white-washed stone houses that you’ll often find across the whole mediterranean, with a typical rectangular square walled base made of locally sourced limestone.
Just Stone, No Mortar
It’s only when you look at the tops of these age-old – and still lived in – buildings that you see the biggest difference isn’t just the connal roof; but the fact that from the bottom stones to the top – there’s not a drop of mortar.
Built with a local knowledge that’s highly respected amongst the townspeople, the few stone masons who still maintain these terrific stone structures don’t often like to share their secrets of how they manage to keep the roof still standing without any mortar or wooden structural supports holding it together.
Topped To Impress
After the original base structure is built, the masons pack out the centre of the building with earth as a security procedure just in case the roof should collapse before completion. The roof is double-lined and filled with rubble in order to offer further protection from the elements and with it’s cylindrical shape, once finished this double-layer system of stone on the inside and outside creates a unique internal atmosphere that is cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Once finished, the dome is topped with a pinnacle centrepiece – and on some occasions – is painted with whitewash with various symbology; most commonly religious in nature.
What I love the most about this unique setting is how local the area can still feel even with the many tourists that visit the village throughout the year.
Of course several of the townhouses in the most popular streets of the town are now a mixture of restaurants, shops of local handicrafts and a few ‘as it would have looked‘ museums; many of the trulli are still lived in by many of the local town people even today and are actually quite highly sort after for their unique historical importance and also partly due to the lack new trulli being built today.
More often than not you can wander away from the main tourist streets of the town and, once down a winding bright white street, find yourself walking past several grandmothers gossiping over local life, perhaps even making pasta out in the hot summer air.
Alberobello, Bari, Puglia, Italy
How To Get There
Whilst driving into Alberobello is easy no matter where you’re coming from across the region, the best and by far simplest transport link into the town is to take the regional train service from nearby regional capital, Bari.
Several trains leave the capital throughout the day and the journey takes less than an hour making the town just perfect for those who’d like to make a day trip before returning home.
This post is written by Dale Davies, one half of Angloitalian Follow Us!, a travel blog for a couple who, since 2012, search for architecture, art, design and music around the world.