Italy

Alberobello and its Unique Spellbinding Trulli

 The unique and unusual ‘trulli’ of Alberobello were a sight to behold. Wandering around these remarkably unconventional dwellings, one can only be curious as to how they came about. What did the strange symbols on their roofs mean and why were the white pinnacles on the top different shapes? We were certainly taking a step back into history in this extraordinary town.

Parking the Van in Alberobello, Italy

We had luckily researched ahead and knew that parking the campervan would be difficult in the centre of town. We found a Campercontact stop in the town which we could also overnight in. It had electric and rubbish disposal but no other facilities and was very convenient to the town, which was only a five-minute walk away. 

A street front showing the small trulli cone shaped grey stoned roofs - with white pinnacles on the top and symbols painted on the roofs in Alberobello
The unique ‘trulli’ of Alberobello

The History of Alberobello

Trulli originated in this area from around the 15th Century. They are made of dry-stone walls consisting of limestone, which is abundant in the region.

Originally, the trulli were built ‘a secco’, meaning ‘without mortar’. This made them easy to demolish and knock down quickly. An unusual requirement of a home it would seem, but there was method to this madness! The resident Count in the area wanted to avoid paying settlement taxes to the King of Naples. Therefore he ordered the houses to be built only with dry stones and demolished if there was a royal inspection! 

In 1797, the town gained independence. Henceforth, mortar was used and the dwellings became permanent fixtures in the area.

 

Grey coned roofs with green trees dotted in the background
View across the cone rooftops of the trulli in Alberobello

The Trulli

The name ‘trullo’ originates from the Greek word, ‘Tholos’ meaning ‘dome’. The building consists mainly of one main room under the dome, with sometimes two alcoves either side.

On the top of the cone-shaped roof is a decorative handmade, sandstone pinnacle. They come in different designs and are apparently, trademarks of the stonemason who built the trullo.

The roofs of a few trulli in Alberobello showing a round ball shape on top of the pinnacle on the roof and also a flat disc shape on another roof.
The pinnacles are on the tip of the roofs; here some are disc-like with a sphere above and other just have a larger flat disc like shape.

The white symbols painted on many of the roofs add to the exotic appearance of these intriguing dwellings. There are a multitude of varying designs, including a sun, moon, love hearts and other pagan like symbols. It is believed that some of these were of religious significance whilst others had astrological or mystical meanings. The purpose of the symbols being to ward off demons and to bring good luck to the inhabitants.

Six trulli with white washed fronts and grey stone tiled roofs. The roofs have white painted symbols of varying designs
Lime painted symbols on the conical roofs

The white washed walls at the front of the trulli seemed reminiscent of the Cyclades bright, white buildings we recently experienced in Santorini, Greece. There, the bright blue domes paired with the white walls alluded to a crisp, more modern feel. However,  the grey stone conical roofs of the trulli here in Alberobello, exude an ancient and mysterious air about them. 

A trulli with a sun like shaoe on its roof . the walls are white and stone there are plant pots with red flowers outside.

In Alberobello, there are two main parts of the town which house the majority of the trulli; Rione Monti and Aia Piccola.

Rione Monti Area of Alberobello

The more touristic side of Alberobello, Rione Monti, is located in the southern hill of the town. Here you will find the majority of the restaurants and bars. You can also buy a selection of gastronomical delights and local artisan products. I had read that the traders were quite pushy here, but we did not experience that at all. 

View of three trulii which are shops selling artisan products couloured bottles , pictures and paintings are outside the shop
Rione Monti area of Alberobello

 

Alberobello street view - grey narrow lane with white fronted trulli shops either side. there are a few people in the street and some shops have goods hanging outside
Rione Monti area of Alberobello

At the top of the hill in Rione Monti, we came to the Church of St.Antonio, built in 1926. The dome is shaped like a trullo and is the only church like it. The church was impressive but there was also a beautiful quaint building to the right that may have been linked to the church, which was equally enthralling.

Church with cone shaped roofs, sun shining behind the church
The Church of Saint Antonio, Alberobello

 

A quaint trulli like building to the right of the church

Aia Piccola Area of Alberobella 

Wandering in the little streets of this ancient part of the town, where about 1300 people still live in the trulli, you really get a sense of the 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.

Three little trulli houses in the Aio Piccola district of Alberobello
The tiny trulli houses in the Aio Piccola district of Alberobello

 

Street view in Alberobello showing the tiny trulli houses on a narrow street, Blue sky in the background
The Aia Piccola district of Alberobello

These tiny hobbit-like homes were captivating. They transported 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 Alberobello and its trulli will stand out as something very unique and amazing.  

 

Michelle

Author: Michelle

After finishing my Law Degree I decided to become a teacher. I am passionate about teaching, learning and most of all, about inspiring others. Now, as a writer and blogger, I love sharing our travels and our musings on life’s journey. I hope, through these, we can play a part in inspiring you to do whatever ‘satisfies your soul’.

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