trulli-houses

 

Deep in the heart of beautiful Puglia, the heel of Italy’s glorious boot, there is an area populated with unusual, conical houses called trulli. On my most recent Glam Italia Tour (Sept 2016) we went to Puglia and stayed three of our nights in a trullo.

trulli
night time in Alberobello

 

 Trulli are primarily found in the Val d’ Itria area surrounding Alberobello, Locorotondo, Ostuni, Cisternino. Martina Franca and Ceglie Messapica.

alberobello
renovated single family home trullo outside of Alberobello, Puglia

 

These totally unique homes look like they are from the pages of a fairytale. Typically they are single family homes, although now many of them have been converted into bed and breakfasts and other tourist accommodation.

 Related Post: 10 Reasons Why You Should Visit Puglia

The History of Trulli

The oldest trulli on earth date back to 1000 B.C and can be found along the Turkey / Syria border.

I’ve read several different accounts of the history of the trulli. They vary wildly, but my favorite is this one:

In the late 1400’s when a couple of ships ofTurkish military facing defeat could not return home because they would be executed, they instead bargained with local landowners. Let us stay here and work for you and we will be your private army. They built themselves trulli to live in. When the tax collectors were coming they could quickly dismantle their highly unusual dwellings, turning them into piles of stones. The landowner wouldn’t have to pay housing taxes on them, and once the tax collectors were gone the Turkish soldiers could rebuild their homes. Genius, wasn’t it?

Except that I also read it could take up to 6 months to rebuild a trullo.

One of the things that make trulli so interesting is that they are created without mortar of any kind. They are ingeniously stacked stones that become water-tight and air-tight with a reverse igloo brilliance that keeps the family cool in the brutal heat of the Puglia summer, and warm (ish!) in the winter.

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The walls of a trullo (one trullo, two or more trulli) can be 3 feet plus thick, built from two rows of stone blocks, with the cavity filled with small stones.

The trulli that are now homes have a layer of plaster over the stones both inside and out, and they are universally painted a bright, gleaming white.

You also see plenty of trulli throughout the countryside that are just used for farming storage, and are not painted white, they are just plain stone.

alberobello
ancient storage trullo in the countryside in Puglia

 

Generally they don’t have windows. If you’re lucky there maybe one, otherwise the only natural light source is the doorway.

puglia-trulli

 

The cone shaped roof also has two layers of stones. The inner layer of wedge shaped limestone pieces is capped by a closing stone, insulating the house, the top layer is limestone tile laid in the opposite direction, making the roof water-tight.

alberobello-trullo

 

Inside a trullo the cone section is made into a loft area, which was either used to store things, or as a second sleeping area. The trullo that we rented on the Glam Italia Tour used that loft area as a second bedroom.

 Related Post: 11 Things You Absolutely MUST Do In Matera

Interesting facts About Trulli:

I read that this are a of Puglia is known as a “karst plateau”. Roughly this means that rain water doesn’t sit in the surface of the ground, instead draining into waterways that feed into the Adriatic, leaving no permanent water source for the locals. Necessity being the mother of invention, they dug wells, or cisterns to hold rainwater, making sure the family had water, then the roof of the cistern became the floor of the trullo. The stones excavated to make the cistern then became the walls of the trullo.

Clever, no?

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Trulli Symbols

Many trulli have symbols painted on the cone. The symbols can bare religious or mystical significance, and are designed to protect the inhabitants.

symbols-trulli-cone

 

  trulli-alberobello

trulli-puglia
driving past trulli in Puglia

 

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The Pinnacle

Each trullo has a sandstone pinnacle at the apex of the cone. The shape of the pinnacle denotes which stonemason or trullisto built the trullo.

trulli-pinnacles

 

The trullo that we stayed in was part of a borgo (a group of several trulli all built together like a little micro-community), and had been the home of the grandparents of our host Piero.

borgo-trulli
The borgo in the back yard
trulli-alberobello
stairs to the trullo loft

The loft that was now a second bedroom had originally been used for storage, the little kitchen occupied the space that once was an open fireplace.

trulli-alberobello
the kitchen in our trullo

The main living area had housed both the family and the animals. Five years ago Piero did massive renovations and turned his grandparents home into one of the most sensational vacation experiences you could ever wish for!

trulli-alberobello
bedroom inside La Trullessa trullo

 

Some trulli have multiple cones, one for each room inside the home. Ours had been subdivided to make two absolutely fabulous vacation rental / Bed and Breakfasts

We stayed at La Trullessa Trulli, which is in Coreggia, an outer suburb of Alberobello. Piero was an absolute joy. He was fun and engaging and full of fantastic information, both from the historical perspective and also with endless fabulous ideas for places to go and things to do in Puglia. If you are thinking of traveling to Puglia, plan on spending a few days with Piero.

(A side benefit is that Piero owns a bakery, and every morning brings you a breakfast to die for!)

I found our trullo on Booking.com (they don’t sponsor my blog – we paid for our accommodation). Booking.com has plenty of trulli to choose from. Start your search in Alberobello ( a delightful but definitely touristy town), and fan your way out. I adored the little town of Cisternino, as well as Ostuni, both of which have trulli on their outskirts. You can also find them around Fasano, Martina Franca, Locorotondo and Ceglie Massapica.

Booking.com

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Visit-Puglia

 

Puglia needs to be on your bucket list. This region of Italy that makes up the thin heel of Italy’s boot looks like no other part of Italy. It is wildly beautiful, with white-washed towns looking out over the crazy blue of the Adriatic on one side and the Ionian Sea on the other. Home to fields of olive trees and the largest wine growing area in all of Italy, Puglia is a mecca for foodies and oenophiles. The beaches stretch for miles on end, the history and the architecture are captivating. It is so easy to close your eyes and imagine running away to Puglia and never coming back.

10 Reasons You Need To Visit Puglia

1. The Landscape.

 

Santa-Cesarea-Terme

Puglia is gorgeous. Flanked by the Adriatic on the east coast and the Ionian on the west, Puglia has around 800 km of staggeringly beautiful coastline, with white sandy beaches and dramatic rocky cliffs.

Adriatic-Coast

Adriatic-Coast

It also has endless vineyards and olive groves, and is sprinkled with picturesque whitewashed towns and villages.

Puglia-Coast
Ostuni, Puglia

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2. The Trulli

The Val d’Itria area of Puglia is filled with amazing hobbit-like cone roofed houses. They are quite magical! We stayed in one for three nights, and it was really quite special.

trulli-puglia

Related Post: What are trulli? 

3. The Picturesque Little White Towns

Throughout Puglia the countryside is speckled with picturesque little white towns. They offset the colors of the land, and gleam and sparkle against the lapis lazuli ocean. The are simply exquisite!

Monopoli-harbor
Monopoli harbor

 

They also are quite intricate, and form a labyrinth of narrow, winding streets that circle around, double back and lead to dead ends.

white-streets-ostuni
Ostuni, Puglia

For centuries Puglia was under attack and relatively defenseless with its endless coastline, so the towns were built into mazes designed to confuse and dis-empower invaders while allowing the inhabitants a chance to escape.

old-town-ostuni
Ostuni
layered up for rain, cold and sunshine in Cisternino

 


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I fell in love with Cisternino, Locorotondo, Ostuni and old town Monopoli.

Locorotondo-streets
Locorotondo

 

old-town-cisternino
Cisternino

 

puglia-white-towns

 

4. The Lack Of Tourists.

 

Otranto-Puglia
Saturday morning at Otranto cathedral

 

 

Although Puglia is an absolute tourist’s paradise, compared to the rest of Italy it really doesn’t have many tourists.

If you have ever traveled to Florence, Venice or Rome you will know exactly what I’m talking about!

Italians, Germans and Brits know their way around the beaches, but outside of August and the end of July and beginning of September, Puglia is tourist-light.

Puglia
Lecce on a Saturday afternoon

Any place that doesn’t have bus loads of tourists tends to have authentic food and fewer t-shirt shops.

Piazza-Duomo-Lecce
Piazza Duomo in Lecce, Saturday afternoon

You also get the added bonus of standing directly in front of art and statues and great sights instead of 5 bodies deep!


5. The People

I have always found Italians to be the friendliest people anywhere, but I particularly loved the Pugliese. Everywhere we went locals wanted to chat, point out cool things to look at, welcome us to their town.

ostuni-locals

I met this darling little lady, Caterina, in Ostuni.
She lives in a teeny tiny little home on a whitewashed street, and walks everywhere every day with a cane that she hid for our photos.

We chatted for ages and she told us all about growing up in Ostuni, and living there her entire life.

puglia-ostuni

What she lacked in teeth she made up for in heart. She was just adorable!

ostuni-streets

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6. The Food.

Oh lord. The food!

 

Octopus-Salad
Octopus salad at Miseriaenobilta in Alberobello

Puglia is a major agricultural region, so everything you eat is local and fresh.

 

puglia-food
Handmade Orecchetti with turnip greens in Santa Cesarea Terme, Puglia

From handmade orriechetti to fresh seafood, to the simplest of salads, eating in Puglia is heaven. And crazy inexpensive.

food-puglia
The remnants of a 15 euro order of seafood antipasti at Torre San Sabine, Puglia

 

7. The Beaches.

Beaches-Puglia
Sunset, Polignano A Mare, Puglia

Puglia’s coastline gives you and endless stream of stunning beaches.

 

Best-Beaches-Puglia
Due Sorelle Beach, Otranto Puglia

Whether you want white sands and an Italian Maldives experience, rocky cliffs to dive from, dramatic rocky beaches, lidos or private, isolated coves, Puglia has it all.

 

Best-Beaches-Puglia

The water is a surreal carcophany of see thru blues – you can almost hear the colors! As far out as you swim you can see to the bottom, the water is so clean and pristine.

 

Puglia-Coastline
Grotta Azzurra, Salento Coast Puglia

You can take boats out to blue grotto caves and swim alone in water.

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8. The Wine

Puglia grows 17% of Italy’s wine, an annual yield larger than the entire production of Australian wines.

The most famous wines from the region are the hearty reds Primativo and Negro Amaro, and the crisp white Fiano.

While ordering bottles of wine with dinner is always fun, we particularly loved being in little local restaurants and getting liter jugs of the house wine for 4 euros! The crazy thing was the house wine was just fantastic, every single time.

9. The Olive Oil

Much of Italy’s olive oil production happens in Puglia.

puglia-olive-trees

 

Driving through the countryside you see endless olive groves, some with giant old trees up to 500 years old still standing sentry, watching over incredibly fertile land that makes nutrient rich olives that burst with flavor.

olive-grove-puglia
ancient olive tree in Puglia

 

A simple mixed green salad with fresh olive oil from Puglia and a sprinkle of salt can change your life forever!

 

10. The Easy Way Of Life

Travel in Puglia is so incredibly easy. Contrary to everything I read prior to going, the roads in Puglia are fantastic. Driving is a breeze because the roads are not only in good shape but are also well sign posted.
The people are friendly and kind, the pace of life is slower, with everything closing down for siesta from 1pm til 4pm.
The lack of cruise ships and tour buses disgorging thousands of nikon wielding tourists into the streets means that Puglia is still authentic and very affordable. Beautiful vacation rentals are very inexpensive, as are consumer goods and food and wine.
Puglia feels like a secret. A magical, mystical secret, and is the perfect place for a glorious vacation.

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