Have you heard about Alberobello? The name of the small town, hidden in southern Italy, means “Beautiful Tree”. And it’s not a popular tourist destination, it does not make it less impressive and stunning than the well-known Italian attractions. You will wonder what a wonder in a small town. For example, that absolutely all houses are the same. In fact, they are called Trulli and you can not see them anywhere else in the world except in that part of Italy.
All this, combined with enormous green palm trees, incredibly beautiful, small gardens with strange flowers and loving, friendly local people, makes the town a truly unique place worth visiting and for the rest of your life you will not forget.
When you travel to Alberobello you think why all the people around you who have already seen it are so excited and happy. And you wonder what I can see so much I have not seen, is there really something I can not even imagine? What would they tell me about this place? But after the first minutes in the city, you understand that you have already fallen in love with it and there are indeed millions of reasons for it. You start thinking that this is a wonderful dream, but it is not true! That’s why they remind the smiling and welcoming local people who are happy to see how their small town makes tourists mumble.
Young, old … all are smiling and filled with pleasant emotions that they transmit to others. It is amazing, especially for a person living only in Bulgaria, to find a place that is so amazingly beautiful, pure, unique, yet full of smiling and kind people only.
The small town is located in the province of Bari, the capital of the Apulia region, northeast Italy, (Apulia, and the Italian – Puglia). It has about 11,000 inhabitants and is known mostly for the amazing houses I have already mentioned – the Trulli. They are part of UNESCO’s 1996 World Heritage List.
The area of Apulia is 19 366 km2 and the population 4 080 311 inhabitants (2008). It borders the Adriatic to the east, the Ionian Sea to the southeast, Mollis to the north, Campania to the west, and the Basilica to the southwest. Almost the entire territory of Apulia is flat. There is only one mountainous area Gargano promontory and the Monti Dauni, with the highest point 1,150 m, in the northern part of Apulia. Overall, this is at least the mountain region in Italy. It is also very dry and the summer is also extremely hot.
Rainwater penetrates into the limestone and forms underground rivers that in some places come to the surface. Thus, many beautiful caves and holes with strange shapes are formed. Particularly remarkable are the ancient caves in Castellana Grote.
What is trulli?
Trulli are typical buildings in Alberobello, as well as other parts of Apulia. You can see them in the towns of Locorotondo, Fasano, Cisternino, Martina Franca and Ceglie Messapica.
Trulli are a remarkable example of dry construction. They are made of limestone and other stones, with absolutely no cement or other solder.
Their roof is definitely impressive and strange. It is made of two layers and has a conical shape on the outside. The inner layer is made of large pieces of limestone. The outer one – made of limestone slabs and is designed not to leak water. If you stand under it, inside the tusk, you will see that it has the shape of an arch.
On the roof cone itself can be painted a symbol, which usually has a religious, but may also have another meaning – star, heart, crescent, cross, etc. At the top of the roof there is usually a ornament that also carries some symbolism. The roof of a tundra, in most cases, is made up of several cones. Once white, the roofs are black now because the plates are darkened by the sun.
Tarmac walls are very thick, over 1 meter in order to provide room coolness in the summer and warmth in the winter. The wall is made up of two layers of stone, among which there are small pebbles and white.
Typically, the tumulus has a central room with additional niche-like rooms. There were no special rooms for children. They slept in the niches I mentioned, and their place was separated from the common room with a curtain. Most of the trusts have one room under each roof cone.
There are many theories about the origins of these unique buildings. One of the most popular is that, due to the incredibly high property taxes in the past, the population of Apulia makes structures without cement and other bindings because so large parts of the houses can be quickly dismantled. It is claimed that a torture can be literally turned into a pile of stones for about an hour. And when the King’s messenger comes to appreciate it, it’s too late and people get rid of the tax. An unbelievable theory, but it seems to overpower the rest.
Another popular theory is that tricks were built because it was very easy, and limestone was indeed abundant. On the other hand, at that time they provided the necessary comfort.
Survivors that have survived to this day are very popular with tourists and it is often English or German who buy them. As well as Italians, of course, but definitely must be very wealthy because the pleasure is extremely expensive. On the other hand, restoration or any other activity related to trusts is quite complicated. Their owners have to comply with a number of regulations, as they are protected by UNESCO. Thus, they become an exceptional example of how an ancient technique can be preserved in this modern world.
The first trusses were built in the 16th century, after local farmers were forced to settle here and cultivate the land. Farmers built their homes using limestone, which is abundant and nearby. The soils in the area are only suitable for growing olives, which is why the olive groves are today everywhere.
The best way to feel the magic of tricks is to stay in one of them. Some of the carp have been transformed into hotels. Strongly speaking hotels because they are so small … but so amazing! But despite all the rooms are made comfortable and cozy. You can choose the tumulus in the city center or in the surroundings. There is a chance that everything will be for you, which is truly an incredible and unique experience.
What must you see in Alberobello?
The main one – the trulli. But there are also very interesting small museums, of course made in trulli, as well as other pleasant places from which you can buy souvenirs and taste the local food.
The center of Alberobello is typical of the small settlements in southern Italy – low buildings and narrow, winding streets. Housing estates are mainly on older streets in the city, and in the center are much less.
The most picturesque parts of Alberobello are two areas composed almost entirely of trues – over a thousand of them.
Particularly the main tourist area in Alberobello is Rione Monti. This is a picturesque neighborhood on a hill overlooking the city center. The walk in it is really nice, but get ready for the constant greeting by local merchants. You will find colored ceramic whistles, miniature models of truffles, silver jewelery and what not. In many of the buildings there is something like small bars where you can sample local wine, biscuits and other pasta.
Although the area is obviously a big “trap” for tourists, prices are not very high. The reason is strong competition among traders and owners.
The second area with the most tortoises is called Aia Piccola. It is very different from Rione Monti and is less visited by tourists. This is another residential area, with quiet alleys covered with small poplar trusts.
The rest of the city is “ordinary” houses or trues scattered picturesque here and there. The largest church in the center – Chiesa dei Santi Medici Cosma e Damiano is also very interesting. The main street that begins with it – Corso Vittorio Emanuele, leads directly to the main area of the city. This is a pleasant street with bars, shops, restaurants and benches, with smiling and smiling local people.
The main square of the city – Piazza del Popolo is a pleasant open space with benches and tables where you can relax and enjoy your surroundings.
Nearby is the city museum – Museo del Territorio. It is made up of over ten composites. There are several other small museums in Alberobello – olive oil, wine, crafts.
Food and Drinks in Alberobello
Among the small trulli there are many cafes and bars, of course in the same style. There are also several restaurants and pizzerias, as well as several small grocery stores. On Thursday, a fruit and vegetable market is traditionally held where you can buy some local specialties. In the biggest restaurants in the center of the village, the food is more than perfect.
The town is indeed a unique place, but still a little. After a few days of walks and exploring, you’ll probably want to see something else interesting too. Of course, there is no problem. There is definitely something to see in the area. Conveniently, if you have a car, there is also a well-organized public transport.
You need literally a few minutes by train to reach the picturesque town of Martina Franca. Along the way, you can stop in Locorrotondo, a historic center on a hill with beautiful views of the Valle d’Itria – a green landscape full of white truals. Another stop of the railway line, back in the direction of Barry, is Castellana Grote, which is famous for its vast and beautiful caves.
One of the most interesting day trips is this to Ostuni. The white houses, the incredible Mediterranean vegetation and the winding streets will impress you. Its white hills just enchant!
Despite the charm of Alberobello, more and more young people are fleeing him to find jobs in the big cities. So the older ones remain in their attempt to repair and maintain their unique houses to preserve Alberobello’s centuries-old tradition. Though burdened with this difficult task, they are obviously doing fine with a smile on their face. Today, Alberobello has survived about 1,600 tracts adapted to the needs of modern life. I wish you someday to go and see all this with your eyes!