Alberobello – Puglia
Alberobello, which mean beautiful tree, gets its name from Sylva Arboris Belli for the vast oak forest that once covered this area of the Itria Valley. The local limestone rock provided the building material for these peculiar dwellings that look more African than European. Although constructed from the 15th century onwards, their design and building techniques are believed to have prehistoric roots. The original community was created for settlers who were given the land by the local lord Count Giangirolamo Acquaviva in order to drain it and grow crops. It seems that he ignored the customary rule that prevented the feudal vassals from building new towns without royal permission. So in order to avoid taxation, the peasants’ homes were designed in such a way that they could be easily dismantled in the event of a visit by the tax collectors from Naples. This explains the dry-wall (mortarless) construction.
A typical trullo is built of irregular limestone blocks on a circular or rectangular base with a cone-shaped roof. On top of the cupola are curious sculptures known as pinnacles; they are usually whitewashed and stand out against the gray of the stone roof. There are often symbolic markings painted in white on the gray stone roofs. These are of unclear origin, but very possibly include prehistoric symbols. The walls are achieved by placing the limestone blocks one on top of the other without the use of mortar. They seldom have windows and are whitewashed, inside and out. The gray stones that make up the conical roof are laid in a balancing method that does not require mortar. The interiors are quite small and because the walls curve inward, special furnishings have to be made to fit within the niches of the room. The living space in a trullo remains fairly warm in the winter months and comfortably cool in the summer months.
For a “truly” delightful holiday in Alberobello, in the Puglia region of Italy, I highly recommend Trulli Holiday. Donato, the energetic, creative founder of this unique holiday service personally sees that his guests get a real taste of this fairytale town by arranging stays in these ancient limestone dwellings with their peculiar conical roofs. Each one is now outfitted with all modern comforts.
Trulli Holiday has over a dozen houses in the historic center of Alberobello where guests can stay for just one night, or rent by the week. We stayed in a trullo that dated back to the 15th century. Tiny, full of charm and tastefully furnished, it had a small kitchenette and dining area. Because Donato was involved in the restoration of several trulli at the time of our visit, he took us around to see the work in progress – a rare inside view of trulli construction and something one is not likely to see on an ordinary tour. Accommodations are available for singles, couples, families and/or large groups.
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