Italy and Puglia, Yours Trulli in Alberobello

Trulli Houses Alberobello Puglia Italy

On account of the thousand or so Trulli houses and because it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site Alberobello is vulnerable to severe tourist overload so Kim’s plan was to get up early to beat the crowds and go and get some photographs of empty streets

We debated this before lights out and I suggested seven o’clock and Kim said six which I said was too early, so we agreed on seven and Kim set the alarm for six!

Which was too early because it was still dark so we turned off the alarm, went back to sleep and woke at about eight; a perfect compromise. Once awake and dressed we left the Trulli and walked into the town up and down the lateral streets and around and around the looping alleys and lanes.  It was rather cloudy but we still managed to get the pictures that we wanted and then went to the Truli Holidays reception and breakfast room for the first meal of the day which turned out to be exceptionally good and only the same price as the Nonna Isa which only served to open up recent wounds.

Kim now decided that she needed some face cream for dry skin so, because I didn’t want to drive, I volunteered to walk to the supermarket that we had driven past on the way in the day before and she went back to the room.  The problem with going on foot back to somewhere that you passed in the car is that distances can be very deceptive and although it had been only a couple of minutes the first time it now took me a good half-an-hour to get to it and then it didn’t sell face cream anyway (well, not the sort Kim wanted) so I bought some bottles of Peroni instead then took the long walk back just as the temperature began to rise.

Kim was sitting outside the Trulli so I opened a Peroni and joined her.  Although our accommodation had been restored and modernised to make it suitable for holiday accommodation it was a genuine traditional house with whitewashed walls and a stone roof and there was a framed photograph inside that was eighty years old to prove it.  Trulli houses are unique to this area of Italy, they are rather like an igloo with a conical roof and a single windowless room inside with shallow alcoves for bedrooms and storage.

Where they first came from is a matter of some debate. One theory is that since Trulli can be built up and pulled down in a hurry, in past centuries their owners would demolish their own buildings whenever the tax man came to town to assess property duty, and then rebuild them when he had moved on.

When one house became too small, the owner would just stick up another one next door, and knock the walls through – repeating the process whenever more space was needed. It makes the larger clusters look like a scale model of St Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow that has been built by Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble.

Trulli House, Puglia Italy, Alberobello

At about midday we did another lap of the town, had a drink in the main square, found a mini market and bought some  Parma ham, cheese and fresh bread for lunch and then Kim found a pharmacy and bought the face cream she couldn’t manage without which cost a massive €25!  Now, for €25 I would expect to get a bucket full but it was only the tiniest little tube so when we got back to the Trulli I went for a lie down and a bottle of beer, which for comparison purposes cost only €1.30 for half a litre.

The cost of the hire car was also a waste of money today because, to be honest, I couldn’t really face driving it again so we left it parked up all day while we sat about the Trulli as tourists continually wandered past taking snapshots and after an hour or so I was beginning to understand what it must be like to live in Bourton-On-The Water or in Williamsburg.

So many people came by and admired the exterior of our Trulli house that eventually Kim began to offer guided tours and during the afternoon we showed around some Australians from Melbourne, a German couple from Frankfurt and a Japanese family from Tokyo and I think we were missing a revenue earning opportunity there that might have offset the cost of the face cream because just around the corner a local couple were charging people for a peek inside a genuine Trulli house.

Eventually we tired of the tourist attention and walked to the new town for a change and visited the large cathedral and the surrounding streets where traditional Trullis were randomly tucked in between modern concrete apartments and shops and then on the way back I visited the Trulli museum but Kim turned down this fascinating opportunity and went back to sit outside in an exhibitionist sort of way whilst passing tourists took her photograph.  After the museum visit I joined her and we spent the rest of the afternoon and the early evening in the sun splashed street and then watched as it went down over our shoulders and left just a fleeting sunset as it sank like a stone in the west.

There was no debate to be had about tonight’s choice of place to eat – we had enjoyed last night that we both knew that we would be returning there and as it turned dark we walked away in the direction of the restaurant that had already become our preferred choice.  This is silly I know but once we find somewhere we like we get in the habit of going back even though there are others to choose from.  Once in Barcelona we went to the same place four nights running and I think we had paella every night as well (different varieties of course).

Well, the place didn’t let us down and we had a second excellent meal.

Oriecchette pasta Bari Puglia Italy


41 responses to “Italy and Puglia, Yours Trulli in Alberobello

  1. Cracking photos, well worth the 6am alarm call. Good to hear I’m not the only one who always returns to the same bar/restaurant if it’s good. Must be an English trait.


  2. Very interesting history of the architecture of the area. I haven’t seen anything quite like it. Thank you for sharing!


  3. I’m a begger for detail. If a Trulli can be added to a previous one and one wall knocked out between them, why hadn’t someone thought to knock out a few holes for windows, especially because of tourists. Are they wired for electricity so you can see when inside?


    • I am no construction expert but I assume it has something to do with the maximum size of structure that can hold up an unsupported roof. There are no beams inside so this must limit the height and circumference of the stone cap. I would say that the average size is about 5 metres across. Not sure about windows but again I wonder if this might have weakened the structure. Those that have been converted into holiday rooms have a few small windows, electricity and running water but I suspect they were previously rather uncomfortable with a desperate lack of privacy.


  4. What an unusual cluster of dwellings! We’re the comfortable to live in? What was wrong with the rental car?

    I hope the face cream did wonders. At that price it better!


  5. what a nice place to visit 🙂


  6. Sunday morning treat, Andrew- sitting back with the coffee and croissants, reading a few blogs before I start the day. And where better to start than in Puglia? Once again I’m envious 🙂
    I love the notion of charging for Trulli photos- how very enterprising! And the taxman cometh stuff too 🙂
    Mick would go back to the same place to eat every night- more pragmatic than me, but I often get it wrong. Did have a superb paella in Barcelona but sadly not at your recommend. We stayed out by the Sagrada Familia so by the time we’d walked and walked, we couldn’t be bothered to venture far on a night, so ate locally, with mixed results. (one large blunder I will not repeat- fell for the suggestion of “tapas of the day” which, coincidentally, didn’t have a price tag. I envisaged tasty chunks of lamb, in a rich sauce, but what arrived was a large lamb shank which was mostly bone- sauce and presentation superb, but stung 16.75 for it!)


  7. Those structures are so cute! I enjoyed the alarm discussion. It sounds very similar to conversations on our end. Peroni…looking forward to several of those this fall.


  8. What an interesting place. Thanks for sharing, Andrew


  9. The alarm discussions sound like Husband and I on vacation as well … only I’m happy to have no alarm and wake-up whenever.
    The trulli (s?) are really interesting … I assuming that without any windows they were also cool in the mid-day heat.

    Not only to I like to go back to a place I’ve enjoyed a meal … I typically order the same thing … unless I had initially debated or 2 possible choices. Call me boring 🙂


  10. What an interesting and amusing post! I liked the part where Kim decided to ” sit outside in an exhibitionist sort of way whilst passing tourists took her photograph”. She missed yet another opportunity to earn some dough!


  11. Olive oil makes a good moisturizer in a pinch. 😉


  12. Ah Puglia I so want to explore this area and I desperately want to stay in a Trulli – so cute! If I find a restaurant I like I would always return – better the devil you know…


  13. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Early Bird – Avoiding the Crowds (2) | Have Bag, Will Travel

  14. Love the insight on the trulli – such interesting specimens they are!


  15. I do love your writing style! I had many a chuckle reading this, Andrew.


  16. This area has been on our list for years Andrew, and your photos may have moved it up a few slots. The first on’s a cracker. It’s interesting that no one seems to know their origin, but the tax dodge sounds reasonable. In Khartoum, the rule on taxes is that you only start paying taxes when construction is complete. Consequently, about 95% of the houses have minor additions that are always ongoing. We were there for 2 years and a few of our neighbors never completed small additions to their homes. ~James


  17. Pingback: Entrance Tickets – The Trulli House Museum in Alberobello | Have Bag, Will Travel

  18. Lovely photos, well worth the earlyish start.
    PS That wasn’t an expensive tube of face cream!


  19. No, you are right to go back to the eating place you liked the night before. My husband and I were also guilty of this. We once ended up with more money than usual after a trip where we’d eaten in the same family-run Trat every night so on our last night we splurged on a posh restaurant, only to have the worst meal of our entire holiday. Lesson learned.
    I haven’t been to Alberobello but hope to make it one day. Your post has incentivised me and I’ll remember not to set the clock too early for those photos. (I did the same once in Venice and stumbled around in the dark for nearly an hour until the sun rose).


  20. Never stayed in a Trullo…but did stay in a converted cave in Matera!


  21. You went to the supermarket for face cream and came back with beer? Kim is a very tolerant woman! This whole post tickled me.


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