ALBEROBELLO TRULLI, ITALY
The unique and unusual Alberobello Trulli in Italy is indeed a sight to behold with its uniquely styled cone-shaped roof.
Wandering around these remarkably unconventional dwellings, we became curious as to how they came about.
What did the strange symbols on their roofs mean?
Why were the white pinnacles on the top different shapes?
So many questions about the trulli of Alberobello…
Below, find out about the Alberobello Trulli of Italy and the things to do in this extraordinary town.
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WHERE ARE THE ALBEROBELLO TRULLI?
You’ll find the amazing Alberobello Trulli in the heart of Alberobello in the district of Bari, Puglia in Southern Italy.
To expand the map click on the top right-hand square symbol.
You will find the map key on the left-hand side which details the various areas in which you will find the Alberobello Trulli.
HISTORY OF THE ALBEROBELLO TRULLI
The Alberobello Trulli, Italy, originated around the mid-14th Century. They were made of dry-stone walls (no mortar or cement ), from rough limestone boulders. This was the material of choice because it was so abundant in Southern Italy’s Puglia region.
Their unique conical roofs were made from corbelled limestone slabs. This stone wall and corbelled construction is a prehistoric building technique specific to the Itria Valley in Puglia.
Originally, the Alberobello Trulli were built ‘a secco’, meaning ‘without mortar’. This made them easy to demolish and knockdown quickly. An unusual requirement of a home it would seem, but there was a method to this madness.
The resident Count in the area wanted to avoid paying settlement/housing taxes to the King of Naples. Therefore, he ordered the houses to be built only with dry stones and to be demolished if there was a royal inspection. Thus avoiding taxes.
In 1797, the town gained independence and was no longer subject to the King’s taxes. From then on, mortar was used in the building of the trulli and they became permanent fixtures in the area.
Today, the Trulli of Alberobello are UNESCO World Heritage listed.
ALBEROBELLO TRULLI CONICAL ROOFS
The name ‘trullo’ originates from the Greek word, ‘Tholos’ meaning ‘dome’.
A Trullo (singular) consists mainly of one main room under the domed roof, with sometimes two alcoves on either side of that room.
In addition, on the top of the Trullo’s cone-shaped roof is a decorative handmade, sandstone pinnacle.
The Trulli pinnacles come in different designs and represent the trademarks of the stonemason who built that particular Trullo. Some of the pinnacles are disc-like with a sphere above and others just have a larger flat disc-like shape.
The whitewashed walls at the front of the tiny Alberobello Trulli seemed reminiscent of the Cyclades bright, white buildings we experienced in Santorini, Greece. There, the bright blue domes paired with the white walls alluded to a crisp, more modern feel.
The grey stone conical roofs of the Alberobello Trulli, however, exude an ancient and mysterious air about them.
ALBEROBELLO TRULLI SYMBOLS
The white Trulli symbols painted on many of the Trulli roofs add to the mystical appearance of these tiny dwellings. There are varying designs, including the sun, moon, love hearts and other pagan-like symbols.
It is believed that some of these were of religious significance, whilst others had an astrological meaning. The purpose of the Trulli symbols was to ward off demons and to bring good luck to the inhabitants.
RIONE MONTI AND RIONE AIA PICCOLA, ALBEROBELLO
There are two main districts of Alberobello where you’ll find Trulli. Rione Monti is the more commercialised area where many of the Trulli have been converted into souvenir shops and small bars.
Some Trulli here are used as residential homes, but not as many as in the Rione Aia Piccola area.
There you’ll find about 8 streets with about 400 Trulli currently used as residential dwellings.
ALBEROBELLO TRULLI VARIANTS
Although most of the Alberobello Trulli are tiny homes, shops or bars, there are a few architectural examples that are variants of the main original design.
For example, at the top of the hill in Rione Monti, you’ll find Chiesa di Sant Antonio. This church has Trello-like domes and a Trello-inspired bell tower. It seems to fit in so well with the Alberobello Trulli theme.
Furthermore, there are two museums that are examples of two-storey Trulli, Trullo Sovrano and Museo del Territorio.
Although Alberobello is the main town with Trulli homes, you will also find many dotted around the Valle d’Itria area.
THINGS TO DO IN ALBEROBELLO
1. EXPLORE RIONE MONTI, ALBEROBELLO
Rione Monti is the more commercialised area of Alberobello and here you’ll find many shops and small bars in the Trulli, as well as some residential Trulli.
You may want to consider a two-hour guided walking tour, around the area, to hear stories and learn more about the history of the trulli.
2. VISIT THE CHIESA DI SAN ANTONIO
At the top of the hill in Rione Monti, is the Church of St. Antonio (Chiesa di Sant Antonio). It was built in 1926 and the dome is shaped like a trullo.
The church is impressive, but there was also a beautiful quaint building to the right that may have been linked to the church, which was equally enthralling.
Just opposite the church is a shady park, Villa Donnaloja, which makes for a lovely spot to sit.
3. VISIT RIONE AIA PICCOLA, ALBEROBELLO
Wandering in the tiny streets of this ancient part of town, where people who still live in the Trulli, you really get an idea of a ‘compact home’.
Perhaps minimalism isn’t such a new idea after all and it is just a return to the way things used to be.
4. TRY AN ALBEROBELLO PASQUALINO
Only in Alberobello can you ask for a Pasqualino in any shop and they will immediately understand what you want. Any cold-cuts shop will be able to make you this treasured sandwich.
The ingredients don’t really jump out as a winning combination, but Alberobello’s webpage tells us that,
” Once you taste it, you can understand why it became so popular among the locals”.
So if you are up for a bread roll filled with tuna fish, capers, salami and cheese, (and in that order) then you will be biting into a little piece of Alberobello history.
Pasquale Dell’Erba was the owner of a grocery store in Alberobello and created the sandwich, in about 1966, for some friends at first. Later, students passing by his shop in the mornings began to also order the sandwich. It then became so popular, that they needed to be made up in bulk for the daily demand.
The best places to find the Pasqualino are marked on the map above – look for the red burger-shaped symbol.
⭐️ Explore the local delicacies, and take an ALBEROBELLO WALKING FOOD TOUR – Wander through the trulli and stop to sample local food specialties such as wine, cured meats, and cheeses | ⏰ 2 hours | Book Here
5. VISIT THE TRULLO SOVRANO
The Trullo Sovrano is a trullo with two storeys. It was built in the mid-18th century and is now a museum. In the late 19th century a family lived there and the furnishings on display are all authentic from that time.
To find out more, and for opening times go to their website here.
6. VISIT THE SANCTUARY OF THE SANTI MEDICI
Just a short walk south of the Trullo Sovrano, you’ll come to the Sanctuary of the Santi Medici, otherwise known as the Basilica of Saints Cosmas and Damian.
On the left of the sanctuary, are wooden statues of the saints, Cosmas and Damien to which the basilica is dedicated. Inside the church are the preserved fragments of bone from both saints, from the arm of Saint Cosmas and the skull of Saint Damien.
7. VISIT MUSEO DEL TERRITORIO (Casa Pezzolla)
The Museo del Territorio is an educational history museum consisting of interconnecting Trulli which used to be home to a doctor, Giacomo Pezzolla. He was the personal doctor of the local count Giulio Antonio Acquaviva di Aragona, hence the name of the complex is ‘Casa Pezzolla’.
Inside the trulli are exhibits and the entry includes an audio guide. There is also a video that shows how a trullo is built.
8. VISIT THE LOCAL MARKET
If you are visiting Alberobello on a Thursday, don’t miss the weekly open-air morning market, held between 7.30 am and 12.30 pm. You’ll find it on Via Barsento Street, (see map)
Seasonal fruit and veg are on sale, along with pickled olives, nuts and other local delicacies. Interestingly, the vegetables at the market are referred to in Italian and each also has a local dialect term.
9. STROLL DOWN TO BOSCA SELVA CITY PARK
About 2km south of Alberobello’s centre, is the 45-hectare Bosca Selva Park. Enjoy being in nature in this protected environmental area of Alberobello. Along with numerous walking paths, ponds and forests, there is also a children’s play area, exercise equipment and picnic tables.
If you are lucky you might spot a Hermans tortoise or the yellow belly toad. More common sightings are jays, hoopoes and foxes.
10. MORE ALBEROBELLO ACTIVITIES & TOURS
11. DON’T MISS A VISIT TO MATERA
While in the area, we would thoroughly recommend taking a trip to Matera, which is as interesting as Alberobello, but instead of Trulli, the attraction is its ancient cave houses, the Matera Sassi.
Built into the side of a wide ravine, these unbelievable cave dwellings, stacked on top of one another, were once home to the locals of Matera, until, what became known as the ‘Shame of Italy, happened.
READ MORE about this city with a dark past in our post: THE MATERA ALBEROBELLO EFFECT
ALBEROBELLO TRULLI ACCOMMODATION
Many of the Trulli in Alberobello have been renovated and converted into tourist accommodations.
Here are some of the trulli highly rated by their guests.
⭐️ For more accommodation options in Alberobello Italy, find the best deals here.
We had luckily researched ahead and knew that parking the motorhome would be difficult in the centre of Alberobello.
We found a Campercontact stop, Area Sosta Nel Verde, in the town where we could also overnight. The camper site had electricity and rubbish disposal but no other facilities.
It was, however, very convenient to Alberobello town centre, which was only a five-minute walk away.
How to get to Alberobello
Alberobello by Tour
If you don’t have your own transport then the easiest way to see Alberobello and nearby Matera is by booking a tour.
Most tours pick up visitors from Bari.
This tour lasts between 6 and 8 hours and includes visits to a sassi and trulli and includes informative tours around both towns. Book or find more info on this Matera and Alberobello Full-Day Tour
Alberobello By Car
The easiest way to get to Alberobello is by car or campervan because you are in control of your time and can also easily visit other attractions in the area. We were travelling by camper and easily parked in the Area Sosta Nel Verde – see map.
Alberobello By Train
Alberobello has a train station and there are trains from Bari on the Ferrovie Sud Est line, but you may need to change at Putignano.
Alberobello By Bus
There is a direct bus route that travels from Bari and takes about 1 hour and 45 mins to reach Alberobello. You can find times and rates at trenitalia.com.
FAQs about Alberobello Trulli
The Alberobello Trulli are unique cone-shaped homes with dry-stone walls made of corbelled limestone slabs. They are located in Alberobello, a town in the district of Bari, Puglia, Southern Italy.
The white symbols painted on the roofs of Alberobello Trulli have various meanings. Some are of religious significance, while others are astrological. The purpose of these symbols was to ward off demons and bring good luck to the inhabitants.
The pinnacles on top of the Trulli roofs come in different designs and represent the trademarks of the stonemasons who built each Trullo. Some pinnacles have disc-like shapes with a sphere above, while others have larger flat disc-like shapes.
The Alberobello Trulli originated around the 15th Century and were initially built “a secco,” without mortar, to avoid paying settlement taxes to the King of Naples. They became permanent fixtures after the town gained independence in 1797.
There are two main districts where you’ll find Trulli in Alberobello: Rione Monti and Rione Aia Piccola. Rione Monti is more commercialized with many Trulli converted into shops and bars, while Rione Aia Piccola has about 400 Trulli used as residential dwellings.
Some recommended activities in Alberobello include exploring Rione Monti and Rione Aia Piccola, visiting the Chiesa di Sant Antonio and the Sanctuary of the Santi Medici, trying the local delicacy called “Pasqualino,” and taking a trip to Matera, known for its ancient cave houses (Matera Sassi).
Alberobello Trulli … That’s a Wrap
These tiny hobbit-like homes were captivating. Alberobello transports you into a real-life fantasy world full of mystery and magic.
We have seen so many wonderful places in our ‘year in the van‘ travels throughout Europe, but the Alberobello Trulli will stand out as something very special, unique and amazing.
Have you visited these unique homes? Experienced anything similar? If so we’d love to hear about it.
FOR MORE ON ITALY, YOU MAY ALSO LIKE TO READ:
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