- Hide menu
The Trulli of Alberobello, Puglia, Southern Italy. A Guide and History With Photos & Pictures.
© Paul Williams 2011. All Rights reserved. License as an Editorial Feature Package with photos & copy from Funky Stock.
Do you believe in Goblins, Elves and fairy tales? If you take a walk at sunrise amongst the beehive shaped Truilli of Alberobello in Puglia, you will discover a fairy tale town that looks like it has to be inhabited by the little people of fairy tales. This magical town is not a theme park though and the Truilli have been home to peasant families for hundreds of years. The story of Alberobello is a bit like a fairy tale though with evil tax dogging feudal Counts oppressing their peasant tenants who are eventually rescued from tyranny by the King of Naples.
Once Upon A Time.
Domed constructions date back thousands of years as can be seen in the beehive shaped tombs or tholos tombs of Iberia built around 3000 BC. The Minoans, The Ancient Greeks, The Mycenaeans and The Etruscans all built dome shaped tombs and dwellings so the design of the trulli of Alberobello is rooted in ancient building practices.
Puglia was settled from 1000BC by the Illyric and Italic peoples then by the Ancient Greeks, the Romans, the Goths and Lombards consecutively. In the 6th Century Justinian, the Emperor of the Roman Byzantine Empire based in Constantinople, reconquered Puglia. The Greek speaking Byzantine Romans called domes “Torullos” which has derivated into the name trullo [singular] and trulli [plural] used today for Alberobello’s unique dwellings.
In 1059 the Norman knight Robert Guiscard ended Byzantine Roman rule in southern Italy by conquering the region and making Apulia his Duchy. The Normans were tough rulers exacting heavy taxes and land was often fought for between Guiscard and his brother bringing slaughter and poverty to the people of the region. When The Normans conquered Sicily, Palermo became the Norman centre of power and Puglia was demoted to a province and neglected.
In the mid 14th century the King of Naples Robert of Anjou, known as Robert the Wise, encouraged the re population of Puglia by granting permission for new settlements to the Count of Conversano. This came at a price though with an edict of The Kingdom of Naples asking for tribute for all new settlements. Alberobello dates from this period and by the mid-16th century the Monti area of Alberobello was occupied by some 40 trulli. In 1620 the settlement began to expand when Count Gian Girolamo Guercio ordered the construction of a bakery, a mill and an inn. By the end of the 18th century the community numbered over 3,500 people.
The Trullo Design
In 1797 the inhabitants of Alberobello had had enough of rebuilding their ruined trulli and of their Feudal Rulers and complained to the King of Naples about the way the Counts avoided Tax by pulling their trulli down. Ferdinand IV, King of Naples used this as an excuse to end the feudal rule of the Acquaviva family by giving Alberobello Royal Status, and the ownership of the trulli was given back to their occupants. The name of Alberobello was adopted by the town, taken from the medieval Latin name of the region, siva arboris belli. From this time onwards the construction of new trulli quickly declined.
Today the Monti quarter of Alberobello, which covers 6 hectares on a hillside, contains 1,030 trulli. Its streets run downhill and converge at the base of the hill. The Aja Piccola quarter, with 590 trulli, is less homogeneous than Monti. The streets converge on a common farmyard where in feudal times the peasants were forced to thresh wheat.
The trullo is a masterful example of eco building that has been honed to perfection by centuries of development.
Firstly a hole is excavated and a stone well is built for water and covered with a barrel vault that supports the trullo floor. 3 mt. square walls are built that consist of 2 layers filled with rubble or loam for insulation. The trulli have very small windows and a single door entrance. On top of the thick walls, which slope slightly inwards , stone slabs are arranged in a circle, consecutive layers stepped inwards and upwards like steps to form a the conical roof. A second layer of smaller slabs is arranged outside this to make a double skinned roof. The conical roof is topped by decorated pinnacle of varying designs. It is not sure if these designs were functional or designed around magical symbols.
The thickness of the walls also make the trulli an early example of bio design. In the spring the thick walls of the trulli are cool from the cold of winter. Through the summer the sun slowly heats the walls up but not fast enough to heat the interiors which remain cool. By mid Autumn the Tuilli walls are warm which helps keep the interior warm through the winter. The walls slowly cool through the winter and in spring the cycle starts again.
The design of the trulli is an example of early modular building where dwellings can be expanded by butting trulli up next to each other. Families may have several trulli joined together as the family expanded. Alcoves in the wall served as beds for the children and a ceiling at the base of the dome allowed food to be stored in the conical roof.
The Trulli are whitewashed to reflect the sun and some have freehand symbols painted in white on their roofs. Most of these are christian symbols although there are also pagan, magic and Jewish symbols. From left To right:
UNESCO World Heritage Site
with a lot of Southern Italy Alberobello was a poor town and the trulli would have housed the poorest residents of Alberobello. The trulli owners were to have the last laugh though. The trulli have been saved by tourism and UNESCO, who made the 2 trulli areas of Alberobello a World Heritage site in 1996. Today Alberobello is a major tourist destination which has kept the town alive. There are trulli Hotels , trulli shops, A trulli church and trulli Restaurants but the town still manages to retain its unique character especially if you avoid the main tourist season. The Trulli hotels have rooms spread around the trulli areas so you can stay in a trulli of your own and experience this unique building on your own.
Whistle Blowers Of Alberobello.
It is often true that communities that have suffered poverty and oppression tend to have extremely friendly inhabitants and Alberobello is no exception. Years of neglect have taught the people of Alberobello that you don’t bite the hand that feeds you and their charming friendly ways are guaranteed to get you in a spending mood. But who can resist people who live in fairy tale dwellings and have a tradition of whistle blowing?
La Botteca is a whistle shop opposite the Trulli church of in the Rione Monti area of Alberobello selling over 5,000 whistle designs. The whistles are mostly made of terracotta and are fashioned to please the diverse tastes of the huge variety of tourists that visit the shop from all over the world each year. La Botteca has been run by Anna Maria Mataresse for 42 years since she took over the business from her family when she was 18. Her charming manner will draw you into her shop where you will be so overwhelmed by the variety of whistles that it will be impossible for you to leave without buying at least one. If the shop is not too busy Anna Maria Mataresse will probably soften you up with a cup of coffee in the trulli she lives in next door. There is no escaping the infectious charm and sense of humour of these Southern Italians and their natural salesmanship. Each year she runs a whistle design competition and the winning design this year is a whistle that shows Berlusconi sitting in an armchair. The whistle comes out of Berlusconi’s……..well modesty forbids telling where!!
Apart from the whistles Anna Maria specialises in local linen embroidered with traditional Puglia good luck folk designs. An Italian tradition was for mothers of future brides to purchase a trousseau, the Corredo, full of all the necessary items to begin married life and good luck symbols. “We sell many gifts for the corredo” Anna Maria explains enthusiastically showing the traditional folk designs on the linen cloths and T-towels, “because everyone hopes that married life will be blessed with good fortune and children”. She has a trulli workshop next door and products are also made and embroidered by women at home to supplement their income. Anna Maria is not just an natural entrepreneur, she also brings in much needed income to many households whilst keeping the traditions of her beloved Puglia alive. At over 60 Anna Maria’s passion is as strong now as it was when she took over the family shop 42 years ago . She still casts her spell over hundreds of thousands of tourists each year and has been mentioned in tourist guides and travel articles published around the world. She has even has an all expenses paid trip to appear on Japanese Television. This suggests that her products do bring good luck, especially for her.
Alberobello is a surprising town full of interesting inhabitants who are proud of their unique trulli and the ancient traditions of Puglia. Southern Italy has long been neglected and towns like Old Taranto still show a level of neglect and dilapidation that is unbelievable in a modern Italy. Tourism with all its benefits and problems is injecting much needed cash into Puglia and Alberobello and businesses like La Botteca are making sure that the money is kept in the community. Trulli are now a popular purchase amongst the Germans and English, so maybe Tuscany-shire in northern Italy will have a rival in the form of Puglia-shire in the South. Time will tell. One thing is for sure though and that is that Alberobello should be on any list of top 10 places to see in Italy.
Funky Stock Photo Library
To License Alberobello photos by multi award winning photographer Paul Williams visit our web site Buy Alberobello Photos, Pictures & Images
To License European Travel Photos visit our travel collections at Funky Stock Travel Collections
To buy prints of Paul Williams Fine art Photography and Photo art visit Paul Williams Fine Art Photo Gallery
STOCK PHOTOS & PICTURES OF THE TRUILLO OF ALBEROBELLO ITALY
Buy all the stock photos in this gallery on line as Royalty Free or Rights managed stock photo. The stock pictures & stock images are all high resolution digital stock photos made award winning professional photographer Paul Williams.
Photo Art prints are also available to buy on line in large to small print formats for framing as art works for home, office art , or commercial art.
|Sign up for our free photo ebooks, great offers and cutting edge ideas & new products email once a month.|