“Trulli di Alberobello” is an iconic sight of Apulia. The real-life fairytale town is located just a couple of hours drive away from Bari. Alberobello is famous for its little white houses with a cone-shaped roofs called trulli. “Trulli di Alberobello” were acknowledged as a UNESCO cultural heritage in 1996 for their unique architectural marvel unlike anywhere else in the world.
The history of Trulli houses
The constructional conception of trulli dates back to the 16th Century, when one of the Italian aristocrats, Andrea Matteo III, brought his villagers to Alberobello for agricultural work. In order to get out of paying the land tax and not get fined for settlement, they needed houses that could be easily built and quickly destroyed. To construct a trullo (meaning cone), the villagers used pieces of white limestone (an abundant material in the surrounding land) and did not ‘stick’ the construction together. Therefore, to destroy a trullo, they just had to take out one cornerstone, and within seconds the house would be pile of rubble. The downside was that the houses needed to be rebuilt each time. They kept rebuilding them even a century later, when the land was liberated from taxation. The last trulli were built in 1925 – that year a new law prohibited their construction. Since then, the trulli houses could only be restored.
Today the trulli are almost all privately owned, which means that you can even buy a trullo house for yourself! Prices vary depending on size, location and condition. There are trulli museums, restaurants, shops and even quite a big trulli church (Chiesa di Sant’Antonio). Many are still homes for the locals, but are now properly renovated, air-conditioned, water-supplied, and rented out to tourists. Overall, there are over 20 000 trulli buildings in the area of Alberobello. Even though many of them look the same, there are still some differences. For example, the cone roofs are decorated with different figures – it could be zodiac signs or religious symbols. There is also a differentiation into ‘male’ and ‘female’ trulli – male have a top figure and the female don’t.
Apart from Trulli, Alberobello offers other things to see. The town is quite small, but incredibly quaint and cozy. It stands on two hills, one of which is the historic trulli town, and the other – slightly higher- is a modern town with shops, restaurants and a church of Saint Cosmas and Damian (Basilica S.S. Cosma e Damiano).
The main street – Corso Vittorio Emmanuele, stretches from the central square – Piazza del Popolo, which is usually packed with tourists. Try catching it empty and experience the whole panorama of the trulli town from viewpoint next to the square.
Overall, the visit to Alberobello can be done within a day, unless you’re willing to spend a night in a trulli hotel. Its definitely a worthwhile experience! But if you are on a road trip and don’t have a lot of time, still make a stop at Alberobello for at least for 3-4 hours. Within this time, you can walk through the old trulli area, check out a few touristic shops and have a snack at the central square and enjoy the scenic view.
How to get to Alberobello
If you are planning to visit the town via public transport – catch a train from Bari. The trains depart every hour from the central train station and arrive at the Alberobello station, which is in a short walking distance from the old town. The train commute takes up to two hours.