In the modern world, one city can look much like another, maybe much like your city. That can be disappointing, when you travel half way around the world and find tract housing that is indistinguishable from Anytown, USA. So it’s particularly refreshing when you find someplace that is so drastically different, so unique that it can only be that place.
Luckily, some of those places still exist today: enchanting Eze, France, perched above the Cote d’Azur; Cappadocia’s one-of-a-kind cave dwellings; or the thatch-roofed villages of rural Ireland. Along those lines, we’ve added the village of Alberobello to our Travel To Do list.
What makes this small village in Italy’s Puglia region so unique are the trulli, the mortarless limestone buildings cited by UNESCO in declaring Alberobello a World Heritage Site. Each trullo is built of stones collected from the surrounding fields, and were reportedly built of dry stone with no mortar to avoid paying taxes. (Proving tax loopholes are nothing new!) The buildings are regularly white-washed, and are topped with conical stone roofs emblazoned with family symbols resembling runes. In granting World Heritage status in 1996, UNESCO cited the trulli as an “exceptional example of a form of building construction deriving from prehistoric construction techniques that have survived intact and functioning into the modern world.”
The buildings date at least to the mid-14th century, though there were settlements in the area as early as 1000 AD. Today, there are about 1500 trulli throughout the city, with about 1000 of them filling the Monti quarter. Many of the buildings themselves are filled by shopkeepers who earn their living from thousands of tourists who come to explore the area every year, and to get a glimpse of what could be mistaken for a real-life Gnome town. Though most come for the trulli, you’ll also find museums, parks, agritourismos, a safari zoo, and much more.
Of course, not all of the trulli are tourist traps; many are still used as private residences, and a few operate as hotels and bed-and-breakfast accommodations. What better way to imagine life in times gone by than moving – at least temporarily – into your very own, traditionally furnished trullo? And we’re not talking modern replicas, these are real deal traditional homes, updated for the modern traveler. And they are adorable, inside and out. Not sure when we’ll be able to get there, but Alberobello (named for the beautiful forests that once covered the hills, “albero bello”) is definitely on our To Do list.
Edit: As though we had not already seen enough of the Trulli to inspire our wanderlust, this beautiful picture from @ThisIsPuglia made its way across our Instagram feed. #swoon!
Locorotondo and its trulli during winter. Locorotondo e i suoi trulli in inverno. #ThisIsPuglia Thanks @col_valentina, follow us also at facebook.com/thisispuglia! #Locorotondo #Itria #ValleDItria #calm #calma #architecture #town #neve #snow #winter #inverno #Puglia #Apulia #Apulien #Italy #Italia #Italien #holidays #holiday #vacanza #vacanze #vacation #vacations
Been to Alberobello? Visited the trulli? Even if it’s still on your Travel To Do list, or if this is the first time you’ve heard of Alberobello, we’d love to hear your thoughts! And here’s a handy Pin for your Bucket List board.
Featured Image: Trulli museum in Alberobello, Italy. Photo: alberobello.com