TEYXO in Alberobello
Culture Travel

Alberobello: Discovering The Enchanting Trulli

The magical town of Alberobello is one of the most famous attractions of Puglia. It’s the home of the enchanting trulli, hosting the largest collection of white stone huts with conical roofs. Although they have been around for centuries, they are kept in perfect shape as Alberobello became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Let’s discover the story of this charming town and take a trip down fantasy lane!

The Story of The Trulli

No one knows exactly when the first trullo was built, but it is believed they date back to the 14th century. There are also many theories about the initial purpose of the trulli. Some say that they were just temporary field shelters for agriculture or storehouses and others say they were the homes of small landowners and workers. However, the most interesting theory and probably the most believable one is that the people from Alberobello just wanted to avoid paying the high taxes on property. So they built these dry stone wall huts that they could easily dismantle when tax inspectors were in the region. It’s almost like they didn’t want authorities to know that the town exists in any way.

After the tax inspectors were gone, they started rebuilding the trulli and that took about 6 months. The people from Alberobello continued this tradition for over 300 years. Can you imagine keeping such a big secret for so long? Hiding an entire town from the map for more than 3 centuries. Even in the late 16th century, the area was known as simply “forest”. No one knew that there was anything there, not a sign of civilization.

Only in 1704 in a Plan of the Territory of Mottala by Donato Gallerano, a settlement of trulli in the middle of a large forest was mentioned. This gave the name of the small village Arbore Bello, which means Beautiful Tree. The settlement became later on Alberobello, expanding from the 18th century up to the first decades of the 20th century.

Now there are 1,500 trulli that are private residences, hotels, restaurants, bars and shops that please the eye of tourists every year.

Stepping Into A Fairytale

The best way to visit Alberobello is to not have any plan and simply wander throughout the town. Let yourself be surprised by the fairytale-huts and the winding narrow streets and see where these take you. I promise you will not miss the main attractions as they are so easy to spot and everywhere you look the view is absolutely breathtaking.

Rione Monti

This is the most popular area of Alberobello, with over 1,000 trulli but all of them are for touristic purposes, so you will find only hotels, accommodations for tourists, restaurants, galleries, cafes, bakeries and shops of all kinds. From traditional handmade linens to other handcrafted pieces, you will find so many artisans that carry on the traditions of the area. It’s a great place to explore, especially that you will get to see the inside of a trullo, if you are not spending the night in town to enjoy a full trulli experience.

When I first arrived, I was struck by the symbols on the roofs. Many trulli have these painted white symbols that may be Christian symbols, like the pierced heart. Some have initials like S, D, which could be related to some saints. However, no one really knows exactly the true stories behind these. There are also Pagan symbols like the evil eye and some related to astrology. Nonetheless, these mysterious symbols seem to add to the entire fairytale experience, as you feel like walking through a fascinating story.

Rione Aia Piccola

If you want to escape the busy area and the crowds of tourists, head along Rione Aia Piccola where you will find over 400 trulli, inhabited by almost 1,500 locals. If in Rione Monti there are almost no locals at all, here is where you will find all the private homes of the Alberobello inhabitants. You will get a real sense of the town, while breathing its architecture and enjoying the true Alberobello experience.

Belvedere Santa Lucia

This is one of the best parts and you may know I am a great seeker of panoramic views wherever I go 😀 What can I say? I love to be on top! Belvedere Santa Lucia is one of the best panoramic terraces in Alberobello where you can see a great part of the town and admire the trulli from above. And you will get those yummy Instagram photos. Another great spot for photos is Belvedere in via Brigata Regina. Also, don’t miss out on the rooftop bars. You will get a great view from the Casedda a Cummersa, as well.

The Church Sant’Antonio da Padova

This is a modern church built in the style of the trulli, in the 1920s, to complement the entire town. Its interior is very simple, I believe they focused more on the exterior and just built a place for prayer for the villagers as at that time the town was at the peak of its growth. What is rather interesting is that it’s built on top of a hill and the street along with the trulli that guide you to the church resembles a staircase, almost like a staircase to heaven.

Trullo Siamese

Built in the 1400s, this is one of the oldest trullo in Alberobello. What is fascinating about this trullo is that it has two separate conical roofs with two separate entrances and a great story! Legends are the best! What would a place be without an amazing story? So, the story goes like this…

Two brothers fall in love with the same girl. She was supposed to marry the eldest, but she falls in love with the youngest. They decide to live all together under the same roof, but jealousy makes this arrangement unbearable. So they split the trullo in two and create two separate entrances, being the only trullo built in this manner. Now, I wonder how the story ends..

The Best Pasta – Eat Like a Local

Woohoo! You reached the best part! I still have the taste of these delicious pastas in my mouth, probably the best I’ve eaten in Puglia. Of course, if you want to eat like a local, you exit the touristic part of the town, especially the historic center and head to Ristorante “I Primi di Puglia” – Pasta Experience (address Piazza di Vagno, 8, 70011 Alberobello BA, Italy) Here you will find the famous orecchiette, the typical pasta of the area. In the restaurant there is a lovely exposed kitchen where you can see all the chefs making pasta and you know right away everything is extremely fresh, made with the best ingredients. The staff is so friendly and passionate about their work and take the best care of you. We were greeted with a special creme soup – on the house – and after we ate the delicious pastas, they also offered homemade chocolate as a dessert, also on the house. I highly recommend it!

How To Get To Alberobello

The best way to reach Alberobello is from Bari. If you want to spend the night in an authentic trullo, feel free to book a night in Alberobello, otherwise you can visit it in just a couple of hours or one day, if you wish to take your time. I usually go to Bari and book a couple of nights, as from there I can easily visit the entire Puglia coast from Monopoli to Polignano a Mare and Alberobello.

Would you like to know more about Polignano a Mare? Read all about this lovely place here

It’s easy to reach Monopoli and Polignano from Bari as you have a direct train, but for Alberobello you need to change trains at Putignano. However, the best way is to take the bus from Bari Centrale and go straight to Alberobello. It’s only a 1 hour ride and it’s the fastest and cheapest way, being only about 10 euros/person. Of course, you can also take a taxi and that is about 70-80 euros.

However, when you return the last bus is at 4pm. At least, this was the case when we went at the beginning of October. In the summer, they probably have longer hours. And now, ladies and gentlemen, here is where our adventure starts…

The Martina Franca Adventure

I still laugh with all my heart when I remember that day, that turned out to be so amazing in the end and we got to see a new city – totally unplanned! So, we decided to not take the 4pm bus, to go by train and change in Putignano. Last time I checked there were trains up to 8-9pm, so we had plenty of time, I figured. But, it’s hard to leave such a breathtaking place and we got carried away wandering and exploring, enjoying the best pasta experience and in the end, stumbling upon a jazz & blues bar in the center. We couldn’t get enough of the Aperol Spritz and the jazzy music, so we left when it got dark, at almost 8pm.

We reached a very dark station, everything was closed, no one to ask directions, no signs, no announcement – just the ticket machine, where we got the tickets back to Bari. Luckily, the very last train was in 30 minutes so we were right on time! For half an hour, not one single train passed by, no soul, there was no one… but we were in the jazz mood, completely in awe with the beautiful Alberobello. All of the sudden, a train arrives and we happily get in. Right on time! As we were waiting to leave, we saw another train passing by that didn’t even stop as there was no one in the station.

We start moving, the ticket collector comes, we happily show him the tickets and say that we are heading to Bari. The collector turns white, looks at us and starts yelling:

Noooooooo, Martina Franca! Martina Franca!!!

My girlfriend and I look at each other, completely relaxed, didn’t quite understanding the situation, when he goes on saying:

This train goes to Martina Franca! The opposite direction!!! The other train was going to Bari!

We start laughing, thinking that of course something had to happen, everything was going so smoothly and there is no fun when everything goes as planned. We love the adventure! He kept on saying that there was no other train, no possible way to get to Bari that night. He was so agitated and started calling taxi companies. We were incredibly calm, thinking that we would get to see a new city and we could simply book a night in Martina Franca.

He was going up and down, calling all the cab companies and no one was available, so he offered us to return with him by train from Martina Franca to Putignano, to be closer to Bari. But, hey, I was already online looking for clubs, hotels and definitely Martina Franca was a larger city where we had bigger chances to find something open, so we thanked him for his great concern. You’ve got to love the Italians! Of course, he didn’t take us any money and our tickets for Bari would still be available in the next 24 hours.

To spice things up and add more tension to our story, we had a flight to Milan at around 12pm, the following morning so we had to get to Bari by 8am, pack all our stuff and head to the airport. Next bus was at 4am, so we had all the chances to arrive in time if we didn’t fall asleep somewhere.

We arrived in Martina Franca at around 10pm and went to the historical center which is really beautiful with amazing architecture and lots of pubs and restaurants. Due to the pandemic, we couldn’t stay anywhere inside so only the terraces were open. Let’s add more tension and mention that it was getting cold and we were dressed up with very light denim jackets since we just planned on staying for a couple of hours during the day in Alberobello. But some red wine always keeps you warm! I found something on Booking and booked it right away, but no sign from the owner whatsoever. I finally called and she said that it is too late for the check-in and we will probably not find anywhere to stay on such a short notice, so we have to stay up until 4am.

You can imagine the beginning of a crazy night, where we had so much fun, moving from terrace to terrace and finally to a small club outside where they had heaters. We were drawn to those like flies to the light 😀 But, at around 2am most of the places closed, so we ended up wandering in the center of the city and finally reaching a gas station. We had to crash at one table and just take a nap, but luckily we got up in time to catch the 4am bus. I still wonder how we managed to do that, but by 6am we were back in Bari and we still got some good hours of sleep before our plane. Happy ending and one of the best stories to share!

Alberobello is definitely a place to visit, to enjoy to the fullest its breathtaking views, great food and drinks, the music, the people and of course – don’t hop on the Martina Franca train, unless you plan on visiting it! 😀

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