Every year, over 60 million tourists visit Italy. And it keeps growing every year. But, if you look at the statistics, you can nowhere see the mention of Alberobello, the land of Trulli, in the top 20 locations.
True, most visitors to Italy, play it safe by visiting to the typical list of tourist places like Milan, Rome, Venice, Florence, Pisa, etc. There is no question on how good and attractive these places are. But, Italy is much more than that.
There are numerous hidden gems, especially in the south of Italy. One such Hidden Treasures of Italy, Alberobello, lies in the region of Puglia, south of Italy, just 20 km away from the Adriatic Sea.
Let us look at the History
History of Alberobello is a classic example of how smart people are to avoid taxes imposed on them – even in those days.
Yes, around the year 1500, the peasants in this region were forced to construct their houses using limestones in a way that it can be easily dismantled by the local rulers (Acquaviva family).
You may wonder why? Let me tell you.
Because they want to show fewer occupancies in their town which would help them reduce the tax bill. Thus the local rulers were avoiding to pay taxes to the kings and managed to multiply their own wealth.
Even though it did help the local rulers, the peasants were not happy since they need to keep tearing their house during every royal inspection and construct again. After around 200 years of struggle, finally, the King realised this and granted the status of “Royal town” and thereby eliminating the burden of taxes from these people.
You may wonder, if the tax was eliminated why did not the people start to build a regular house then. Right? True, but the continuance of Trulli only shows the power of local rulers on how they exploit people to increase their wealth.
Today we still see these houses, called Trulli, standing in one piece in the 21st century. There are few scattered around Puglia, majority of them are concentrated in Alberobello. Hence is rightly called as Alberobello, the land of Trulli.
Although there are not many residing in this Trulli today, it has become a home for shops, restaurants and most importantly guest houses for tourists looking for a unique experience to enjoy staying in these iconic houses.
No wonder, UNESCO has awarded World Heritage Site in 1996 for Alberobello.
How to reach
The closest Airport to reach Alberobello is Bari and Brindisi. Although you have good flight connections, many International airlines connect this city through Rome which has regular flights connecting Bari or Brindisi with Alitalia airlines.
In my opinion, the best way to reach Alberobello from Bari is by train because it is easy, comfortable, inexpensive and comes with a view of the countryside.
The train from Bari Centrale station to Alberobello takes less than 2 hours. It is just 5 minutes of walk to the Alberobello town, the land of trulli. One note of caution is, these trains are not operated by the regular Trenitalia. You need to use the Ferrovie Sud-Est train platform.
Tickets can be bought at the counter just before your trip. If you buy it off the counter, make sure you validate the ticket in the machine before entering the train. Else, you will risk paying a hefty fine. Yes, traveling with a non-validated ticket is considered on par with ticketless travel.
Do read about the excellent train network in Italy using the ultimate guide for train travel in Italy.
If you are driving to Alberobello, I would recommend you to point the GPS to “Rione Monti” or the “Via Indepenenza” and once you enter the town, you should have the public parking on the right side. Make sure you plan it early before 10 am since within a few hours the parking should be filled by cars. Of course, you can find more parking lots but needs more walking.
My recommendation is to rent a car from the Airport and drive through the countryside of Puglia with your window glass lowered. The cool breeze from the olive gardens running on both sides of the winding road will surely be mesmerising.
What to do in Alberobello?
Is that even a question?
Undoubtedly the only reason people visit Alberobello is to wander in the land of Trulli. Wanter along those white houses – pyramidal, domed, or conical roofs built up of corbelled limestone slabs. Because, there is no other place on earth, where you can find such Trulli.
Trullo (singular of Trulli) is a conical-roofed structure painted in white. The walls are built with limestone without any mortar (Plaster or cement) allowing people to dismantle the house when needed.
Sighting of Trulli starts the moment you come out of your parking area. You can find a lot of Trulli converted into souvenir shops and Gelato shops. I bet you, you will never pass these Trulli without making a visit inside. Grab a Gelato, and get ready to be lost in the Land of Trulli.
The walk starts with a climb to the small hill over which you would find more than 1000 Trulli all standing in full white & white. I recommend you not to miss the two most important landmarks in Alberobello.
One is the Trullo Sovrano which is a Museum today. This is the only Trullo in the whole town to have two floors. Make sure you visit the Trullo for a small fee of 1.50 Euro and enjoy the unique experience.
The top floor was used as a bedroom for guests, and this floor also houses a weaving machine which shows that the first floor was used for weaving in those days.
Passing through the kitchen you can reach the garden behind the Trullo. The garden has a good collection of Mediterranean species like strawberry, olive, pomegranate, lavender, etc.
From the garden, you will have a good view of the Trullo that shows how even in those days they had a long chimney from the kitchen. Even today, they have rainwater harvesting implemented to collect the water from the conical roofs.
The other house not to be missed is the one that played an important role in the history of Alberobello. It is the Casa d’Amore. It was the first house built with mortar in 1797 by Francesco d’Amore who was responsible for the insurrection against the Aqcuaviva family of the 18th century.
Today, it houses the tourist’s office.
Where to Stay in Land Of Trulli?
Most tourists visit Alberobello as a one-day visit along with other beautiful neighbouring villages like Ostuni. So, the preferred choice is to stay in Bari or Brindisi.
But what is a visit to Alberobello, land of trulli without staying in one?
Right, I would recommend you to try staying in Alberobello, and more specifically, in a Trullo. After all, where else you can find such a white house, right?
Yes, there are several Trulli that are converted into the beautiful accommodations, and offers a unique experience for visitors. Grandi Trulli is one such Trulli that is more of a hotel these days.
Several online portals, including Airbnb, offers a good option that can be used to narrow down for your preferred Trulli. These options could be a few Euros extra than a regular hotel stays, but believe me.
You could never get another chance in any other part of the world. Go for it.