Leaving the embrace of the Amalfi coast is like saying “arriverdeci” to a summer holiday romance but we’re going bi-coastal, crossing rural Italy towards the Adriatic. However, instead of driving the direct route, we’ve decided to detour to Alberobello in the region of Puglia and now I think we’re lost. Puglia means Land of Plenty and there’s definitely plenty of rolling farmlands, plaited vineyards, citrus orchards and olive groves but no sign of our destination.
Why Alberobello? Well you can blame it on ‘Italy Unpacked‘, a television travel program where a couple of blokes raved about discovering trulli, snowy white limestone buildings constructed much like igloos. One look and we were hooked! The origins of these Apulian dry stone huts which are unique to Puglia is cloudy with some claims dating their first appearance to the 14th century. However, clusters didn’t form until the 17th century and from then it seems they sprouted like mushroom caps with its biggest concentration of more than one thousand now found in the UNESCO World Heritage listed Alberobello Village.
TRULLI, MADLY, DEEPLY
Travelling Italy’s provincial roads takes us deep into Puglia’s rustic heartland – a delightful contrast to the insanely busy Amalfi coast. Suddenly, our first trullo pops up, a little stone cone in a wheat field and we follow the signs to Alberobello. Parking in the town’s main square, we stroll up Corso Vittorio Emanuel, the main street that rises up behind the church and into the heart of the village where rows of trulli line labyrinthine lane ways. It’s a fairytale place to lose yourself in. Some buildings are circular, others square but all are topped with a conical slate-grey stone roof. Constructed without mortar, some are painted with good luck or ancient Christian symbols – it’s like Italy’s version of Hobbiton!
The glare from intense summer heat bounces off the chalk-white buildings; a profusion of flowering jasmine tumbles over dry stone walls scenting the air with romance. This is a living community and the residents make their living from tourists converting their trulli into souvenir and ice cream shops, cafes, art galleries, boutiques and restaurants.
Chiesa Di Sant Antonio, a 12th century trullo church occupies the high ground atop Via Monte Michel. A wonderful fusion of local architecture and religious iconography, its uniquely unusual exterior is offset with a pared back, gently curved stone interior and simple polished pews.
Five TRULLI lovely things to try….
Why not go for immersion and stay in a trulli. Some residents offer a BnB experience or there’s the Hotel dei Trulli, Via Cadore 28, Alborobello www.hoteldeitrulli.com
You’re in the ‘land of plenty’ and there’s plenty of local produce to sample particularly at Antica Salumeria del Corso on Corso Vittorio Emanuel 76.
Snack on rustic, locally grown fare at Trattoria Terra Madre‘s trulli restaurant just off Piazza Sacramonto.
Known locally as ‘little ears’, Orecchiette pasta with tomato and ricotta cheese is the go-to lunch dish at Casa Nova II Restorante on Via Monte San Marco 13.
With a seasonally-inspired gelati menu that includes grapefruit, sycamore fig and watermelon, where better to be refreshed on a hot summer’s day than at Gelateria Caffeteria Arte Fredda, Largo Martellotta 47.
Tags: alberobello, and Ceglie Messapica, antica salumeria del corso, Apulia, bari tourism, casa nova II restorante, Cisternino, conical roof, dry stone corbelled or keystone vault, Fasano, gelateria caffeteria arte fredda, hotel dei trulli, italy tourism, Itria Valley, land of plenty, Locorotondo, Martina Franca, orecchiette pasta, Ostuni, province of Bari, Puglia, puglia food, puglia tourism, trattoria terra madre, trulli houses, trulli village, visit italy