Trulli in Alberobello, Italy: history of the city and its attractions

The fabulous trulli of Alberobello

Many cities in Italy boast unique monuments and ancient architecture that is a world treasure. But in all this placer is the amazing town of Alberobello. It is located in the southern part of Italy, in the Puglia region not far from the famous city of Bari. Famous for this little town because of unusual houses trulli. They are like fungi scattered over the hills of Alberobello, turning it into a fairytale town of gnomes.

In 1996 the snow-white trulli of Alberobello, as well as many other attractions in Italy, were included in the list of World Heritage Sites. Truly, it is one of the most unusual places not only in Italy, but also in the world.

How did the trulli appear in Alberobello

Trullo means dome in Russian. Exactly because of its unusual shape trulli got its name.

The traditional trulli houses in Alberobello

The history of these bizarre houses goes back to the past. In the 16th century, Duke Andrea Matteo III of Acquaviva brought his peasants to the land. Andrea was a miser. According to local laws, any landowner had to pay the Neapolitan king a settlement tax.

To avoid extra costs, the duke ordered his peasants to build houses out of the local limestone, and to do so without the use of cement mortar. Why? Simple!

A special stone was laid in the base of the roof. It was enough to haul three horses, pull the stone and the house was in ruins – it took half an hour to bring down the whole village.

Trulli in Alberobello was built without mortars

The royal officials were always known in advance of their arrival. As a result, the tax collectors saw nothing but piles of white stones in the area. The dukes prospered and the local peasants were forced to rebuild their lodge each time.

In 1797 King Ferdinand exempted Alberobello from paying taxes. But the locals still could not believe in the king’s generosity, continuing to build domed houses without mortar.

The construction of trulli in Alberobello stopped only in 1925, when a law prohibiting such construction was issued. This law is still in force today. You can’t build new trulli, but you can use and reconstruct old ones. Locals actively use this, attracting many tourists to the unusual town.

sights of Alberobello

Actually the trulli in Alberobello is the main attraction. Tourists come here to admire the unusual trulli houses, stay in the trulli hotels, buy souvenirs in the trulli stores and try the delicious cuisine of Southern Italy in the trulli restaurants and trulli cafes.

Trulli stores with souvenirs

Modern Alberobello stands on two hills. The east hill is occupied by buildings of recent times. There’s not much to see here, except for the church in honor of the patrons of the city, Cosmas and Dominic.

The western hill is the exact opposite of the eastern hill. It is here that numerous trulli are located. In total, there are about 1,400 fairy-tale houses in the city. They are divided into two districts. The most visited area is Rione Monti, where there are about 1000 “gnome houses”.

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It has everything that a modern tourist needs: cafes, stores, hotels, bars and restaurants. The second neighborhood – Rione Aia Piccola – is not as crowded with foreigners and Italians from neighboring cities, but it’s here, as 400 years ago, in the trulli houses live ordinary people, and the usual urban life flows.

In Alberobello no two trullos are alike. The main difference is the drawings on the dome.

Despite the external similarity, no two trullos in Alberobello are alike.

There are so-called male and female trullos. The men’s trullo has the crown with the mark of the master who assembled it. The drawings on the dome are also all different. Most often the houses depict the signs of the zodiac, pagan and religious symbols.

Trullo Sovrano is the only two-story trullo house

Walking through the narrow streets, the curious tourist is sure to find himself in Sacramento Square (Piazza Sacramento), where one of the main attractions of the “gnome town”, the Trullo Sovrano, is located.

The Trullo Sovrano was built in the 18th century by a wealthy priest’s family, and it is unusual in that it has as many as 2 floors! Inside there is now a museum, where for a token fee of 1.5 euros you can see how people lived in these places a couple of centuries ago.

Inside the Trullo Sorvano is a museum

Another famous landmark is the trullo church of St. Anthony. It was built with money from American immigrants on top of the Rione Monti.

Church of St. Anthony

We also recommend a visit to the small store Alberobello in miniatura. Here you can see and closely examine a huge model of the old Alberobello. There is no admission fee for visiting the store and looking at the model.

When to go to Alberobello

Alberobello is beautiful at any time of year. However, the greatest influx of tourists is from May to October.

In summer, it is best to go to Alberobello in the evening, when the midday heat subsides. During the summer there are a lot of cultural events: concerts, festivals, theater groups and even poetry evenings.

On weekends during the season you can really get lost in the crowd, because the many tourists are joined by Italian families from neighboring towns.

Annual Winter Festival of Light in Alberobello

It’s not boring here in the winter either. Every year during Christmas, Alberobello hosts the Alberobello Light Festival.

When it’s dark, thousands of lights illuminate the snow-white trulli, turning this fairy-tale town into something magical. The temperature, which never drops below +5 degrees in the south of Italy, makes even a winter trip really comfortable.

How to get from Bari to Alberobello

The nearest airport to Alberobello is Bari. Unfortunately there are no direct flights from Russia and Ukraine to Bari, but you can always find a flight with a connection.

You can book a cab or rent a car at Bari airport. With your own transport, the trip will only take an hour.

For those who can not afford a cab, and do not have an international driver’s license, there is another simple option – book a tour from Bari to Alberobello.

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Excursions are available in Russian, and you can see their descriptions, prices and reviews of travelers at the links below.

Finally, the last option for fans of cheap but extreme travel is public transportation. From Bari to Alberobello there is a train every hour and a bus once a day. They depart from the central railway station of Bari.

To get to the station from the airport you can take a city bus (trip takes about 30 minutes) or train (15 minutes). Then you must buy a ticket for a suburban train to Alberobello. The trip will take about 1.5-2 hours.

Be careful! In regional trains are not announced upcoming stops. It is important not to miss yours! Carriage doors open on demand by pressing the appropriate button, and at some stops the train stands no longer than a minute.

Trains from Bari arrive at Alberobello train station

From the train station you can walk to the historic center. It will not take more than 10 minutes to get there.

When planning such a long and somewhat extreme route be sure to look for accommodation in Alberobello (link). It is unlikely that you’ll have enough time to see the city in 1 day and return to Bari in the evening. But you have a unique opportunity to live in a trullo and to experience the inexpressible atmosphere of a fairy tale town.

What to bring back from Alberobello

The memory of visiting the “small town of gnomes” you can bring its main symbol – Trullo. It is depicted on a myriad of local souvenirs.

T-shirts, plates, mugs, magnets, and small copies of houses actively sold for home collections. Popular items embroidered by local craftswomen are towels, tablecloths, and napkins.

Tasty souvenirs are also very popular in Alberobello. In the souvenir stores you can always find gift sets with local Orecchiette pasta, olive oil, and local wines.

Popular and all kinds of liquors produced here. The liqueurs are poured into trullo-shaped bottles, so even after drinking them, the memory of the fairytale town remains.

Photos by: Eric Bauer, Pizzaemandolino, Istvánka, Yellow.Cat, Horcrux92, Inselmann,

Alberobello: the kingdom of Trulli

Alberobello is a town in the center of the Valle dell’Itria valley, home to 11,000 people. The unusual “trulli” houses, which form the center of Alberobello, were recognized as a national monument of Italy in 1930 and were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996. The international organization noted the originality of the “trulli”, the homogeneous nature of the settlement and the way they preserved the building culture of prehistoric origin.

The old town is located in the southern part of Alberobello and consists of two quarters, Monti and Ayia Piccola; in total there are about 1,400 “trulli”. The northern part of the city is more modern; small streets intersecting here form a maze.

Once in Alberobello, you feel as if you are in the middle of a huge rainbow that makes you slightly dizzy: the blinding white of the trulli, the azure of the clear sky, the red of the fields, the pink of the wild orchids, the purple of the vines, the pink-pearl of the pomegranate, the chestnut of the medlar and the ruby red of the fresh tomatoes. No matter what you look at in Alberobello, everything gives the local landscape a fabulous and fantastic look. The colors are joined by equally rich and intoxicating scents that once you feel them, it’s hard to forget.

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What to see


The history of these very unusual houses goes back to a decree of the King of Naples, who imposed a special levy on each new settlement. At that time, the owners of the land on which Alberobello stands today ordered the locals to build their houses without using mortar, so that they could easily be dismantled to avoid paying the tax. The peasants, who had only stones to build on, found a way out: they began to build round houses with domed roofs of stone rings stacked one on top of the other. This structure was the most durable and the least time-consuming to build. This is how the first trulli appeared.

Later, tents decorated with mystical and religious symbols began to be built on top of the roofs. These symbols, associated with local beliefs, church holidays, or the signs of the Zodiac, helped to find the right house.

“Trullo Sovrano.”

“The Main,” or, if you prefer, the “King Trullo,” is located in Piazza Sacramento, behind the Basilica of Saints Cosmas and Damian. This impressive building is the largest structure made in the trullo style, and the first of its kind to be built using mortar. An unknown architect placed the main entrance of the Trullo Sovrano on the south side and decorated it with an arch whose lunette is decorated with a painting of the first half of the nineteenth century depicting a scene of the Way of the Cross.

Once inside and after passing a small bedroom on the left side, you find yourself in a spacious hallway with a cruciform vault. Next is the spacious kitchen with access to the garden. A door on the left leads to the rooms that form the original core of the living spaces around which all the other elements of the building were built. Above the vaulted entrance hall is the traditional “trullo” roof, under which the second floor is located; in ancient times it was a room for guests or for weaving. The stairs leading upstairs are carved right into the wall.

Over the years, the Trullo Sovrano building has been used as a lodging, a grocery and a chapel. In 1785 the relics of Saints Cosmas and Damian were deposited here. From 1823 to 1837 it housed the oratory of the brotherhood of Santissimo Sacramento. The structure, renovated in 1993, is now privately owned and used as an exhibition space and space for cultural events.

“Siamese Trullies.”

As you walk down the Via Monte Nero staircase street, notice this ancient house built on a limestone rock. It is built on several levels, without windows, and the foundations are large blocks of rock.

In fact, there are two trullo houses, hence the name “Siamese”. They have two cone-shaped roofs (the space between them is hidden under a single ceiling on the outside) and two entrances facing different streets. Originally, the two houses were connected by a small door.

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In “trulli”, built not so long ago as the “Siamese”, the double structure is not found, so the “twins” is considered an example of the archaic type of such buildings. And also about their shape, of course, there are many legends.

The Monti Quarter

In 1996, UNESCO recognized the neighborhoods (here called “rione”) of Monti and Ayia Piccola as a World Heritage Site. Monti, home to more than a thousand “trulli”, stands on a hillside in the southern part of the city, behind the Largo Martellotta street.

Eight parallel streets, running from north to south, cut the quarter lengthwise. The oldest houses are on Monte Nero, Monte Pasubio, Monte San Michele and Monte Sabotino; many are now converted into small souvenir shops.

In 1843, the “Regulations of the Town and Country Police” were issued, which forbade the inhabitants of Alberobello to use traditional building techniques. This prohibition was enforced in all city streets, except in the Monti quarter, where the poorest people lived. It was this factor that ensured the preservation of an impressive part of the old buildings (while the traditional technique was still in use, there were at least two thousand “trulli” in the city). In 1910, the quarter as a whole got the status of a national monument: the state recognized that its original appearance is of interest to the whole country, and the construction was prohibited here already by the new technology, not to spoil the landscape, which is the dominant style of the “trulli.

Ayia Piccola Quarter

At the beginning of the XIX century. this quarter consisted of 400 “trulli”. According to the historian Notarnikola, it was named after a small threshing-floor in the eastern part of the city where it was located, and was originally a small threshing-floor. It was built when the harvest was so great that a large threshing-floor was not enough.

Today this quarter, recognized as a national monument in 1930, is the only part of town not affected by commerce. Walking through its streets – Duca degli Abruzzi, Verdi, Colombo, Galileo and La Marmora – you will see that each “trullo” is different from its neighbors in structure and material. In addition, it is here that you can get an idea, even if fragmentary, of what Alberobello looked like a few decades ago. The tiny squares, the numerous alleyways, some of which are inaccessible to cars, are all like images from a distant and alluring past.

Church of Sant’Antonio

The church, whose bulk dominates the landscape of the Monti quarter, was built in just 14 months on the initiative of the historian Martino De Leonardis. The original design was only partially realized: a number of changes were made by the engineer Bianchi di Bari. The building was finished in 1927 and a few years later the church was given to the Congregation of the Servants of Charity who made it their new parish church.

The facade of the building is divided into three volumes. The central portion consists of a large arch where the main portal opens. In plan, the building is an equilateral cross, and the roof is made in the traditional trullo technique and topped by a lantern with a square base. Four central pilasters support semicircular arches, on which in turn are supported by side vaults.

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Some time later, a seminary building was added to the church building, which blocked the entrance of light into the temple from the side of the bell tower.

At first, the interior had only one altar and a large crucifix by Adolfo Rollo. Between 1954 and 1960, the church was extensively rebuilt. The central altar was remodeled to meet the needs of the clergy, and the two side altars – the one on the right, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and the one on the left, dedicated to St. Anthony – were elevated.

What to try

The cuisine in the “City of Trulli” is simple: this applies both to the ingredients and to the technological side of cooking. Local dishes preserve the gastronomic traditions of medieval peasants: short thermal treatment, the use of fresh vegetables, olive oil, seasonal products and legumes. This cuisine is dominated by fresh tomatoes and other vegetables, so it could be called “sunny”.

Peeled Beans

Peeled bean soup is one of Alberobello’s many traditional recipes. It takes very little time to prepare and requires few ingredients. After soaking the beans for about twelve hours, they are added with hake, a sea fish that is not hard to find in the Mediterranean Sea. Once the fish is ready, a white onion and bay leaf are placed in the soup. It is often accompanied by wild chicory or boiled turnip tops with olive oil.

“Kr’shaul” with dried cod stew

“Kr’shaul” is a type of wheat flour lasagna. Since Alberobello is close to the sea (about 20 km), local cuisine is largely based on fish dishes. Therefore, such lasagna is often accompanied by cod sauce, although you can also use the version with tomato and basil – it is not only vegetarian, but it also takes much less time.


These are rolls of slices of horsemeat stuffed with sheep’s pecorino cheese, garlic or onion and parsley. Many residents of Alberobello use them as a sauce for pasta.

How to get there

By plane

The nearest airports are in Bari – Palese Carol Wojtyla (70 km) and Brindisi – Papola Casale (about 75 km). From there you can get by train or by cab.

From the railway stations of Bari and Taranto take the train of Ferrovie Sud Est in the direction of Lecce. From the station Fasano you can reach only by bus or cab.

By Car

From the A14 Bologna-Taranto exit Gioia del Colle, take the SS171 freeway for about 2 km. Follow the SS604 for 28,2 km, then take the Alberobello exit.

From Brindisi take the SS.16, exit Fasano, continue towards Locorotondo and then Alberobello.

From Taranto, go in the direction of Martina Franca, then take the exit Locorotondo and then Alberobello.

From Calabria take the SS106, continue on the SS7 and then on the SS100, following the signs for Bari/Mottola/Gioia, turn towards Massafra and Mottola, then Noci and Alberobello.

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