After lunch at an outdoor trattoria, we meandered back and forth, up and down, just enjoying this dazzling town. Walk with us. Enjoy the visions of Alberobello.
Aside from the main street lined with shops selling souvenirs and local crafts, the entire trulli area was mostly deserted. Walking past one house, a bicycle propped against its front, we glanced toward its open door. A man stepped out, beckoning us inside. Va bene?” I asked, still not sure he was motioning us into his home. “Sí!”
The interior was cool and spotless. A woman and a boy about eight sat on a couch. We smiled at each other. The man proudly showed us around, explaining that they used to live here, but don’t anymore. Still, they own it and come during the day to keep it open for tourists. It was a priceless glimpse into life inside a trullo.
Equipped with a fully functioning kitchen and modern bathroom, the house also had a bedroom off to the side of the living room/dining room. I was surprised at how roomy it really was.
I took their pictures and the man asked if we could send him copies. “Certo!” I replied. He wrote out his name and address. I was almost not surprised that his name was Pasquale. (How many are we up to, now?) They invited us to sit on the couch with them awhile, so we did. The woman told me they were the boy’s grandparents, and it was obvious all three of them were proud of this unique home.
Later in the day, we came upon another trullo also open for visitors. This one had a bowl set out for donations, if you chose to toss a few coins in. We did.
Pasquale hadn’t asked for a thing, other than copies of the pictures, but we also left him a few Euro. And, yes, we sent him the pictures of his sweet family.
Two crafts that are common in this part of Italia are whistles and paper maché. I am not particularly smitten with either of those, but it was still fun to look at all the colors and designs. What is my thing is silver jewelry. An intriguing display of earrings in a window enticed me for a closer look.
I saw that they were dangling replicas of the strange markings we had seen splashed in white across some of the conical trulli roofs. The man inside the shop handed me a paper with an explanation of each of these rooftop symbols.
The symbols, which signified ancient beliefs in magic and religion, were categorized as either primitive, Pagan or Christian. Painted boldly on the trulli roofs, these markings served as signs of luck, protection, and sometimes simply decoration. I found them quite bewitching.
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.