Monday, June 14, 2010
Today was Alberobello day. This town has been on my list of must-sees for a very long time, and finally we were going to see it. We scuttled over to Annamaria’s bar for our morning cappuccino and cornetto. There, I was also able to dash off an email to the hotel in Matera to ask if they had found my jacket. Then, I turned my thoughts to the trulli.
Back in the car, we headed down into the Itria Valley. I couldn’t wait to get to Alberobello, famous for its trulli. Trulli are the ultimate in architectural whimsy: rounded sugar-white houses, curiously constructed with stones and rocks gathered from nearby fields and topped with comical domed roofs. Their thick limestone walls keep the houses cool in summer and cozy in winter.
Although the roofs of new trulli are still built in the ancient technique of drywall construction, the old trulli were built completely without mortar or cement. This enabled their owners to dismantle them at a moment’s notice if word came along that the taxman was on his way. Then, after the taxman left after seeing their poverty-stricken plight, the houses would be put right back up. Or at least that’s the common story.
The Itria Valley, which stretches across parts of three Puglian provinces, is dotted with trulli. While driving through the rolling hills of this area, you can see them sprout up like white wizard huts among the olive trees and grapes. But the town of Alberobello is trulli central. Spread over two gentle hills, the town boasts 1500 of these mystical dwellings.
Welcome to Alberobello!
It wasn’t a long drive from Ostuni; we arrived mid-morning. The trulli were everywhere. We just wandered, taking pictures and surveying the otherworldly scene from the town’s high point and then losing ourselves among the blindingly white streets.
Two men were hard at work on the front of one house, splashing white lime over the walls with rollers on long poles. We stopped to watch awhile, fascinated, before continuing down the white, curving lane.