Our next destination was the fairy-tale city of Alberobello! Now, Alberobello is only 9.5 miles away from Martina Franca, and so it is just a fifteen-minute drive. Many people fit Alberobello into their vacation itineraries as a day trip, a place that they stop in for a few hours, tour a few of the more well-known trulli, and then, move on. As a matter of fact, I have had countless people say to me that it was a waste of time to spend more than a few hours there. They all complained about the number of tourists and souvenir shops, comparing the experience with being in a place like Disney World. Well, we did not listen to them! We wanted to spend a few days there, exploring the city at our leisure, and trying to see just what the real Alberobello was like. And, I am glad we did! This is a lovely place, and deserves not only to be seen, but to be relished and experienced, not as a two-hour pit stop, but as a destination of its own.
We rented a one-bedroom apartment in a trullo. A trullo is a traditional stone hut with a conical roof, which is popular in this part of Puglia. What really sets the structures apart, besides their shape, is the fact that they are built without the use of any mortar. They were built this way as a means of avoiding having to pay additional taxes to the Spanish viceroy of the Kingdom of Naples. Because no mortar was used in the construction of the houses, they could be easily dismantled if the tax collector ever came visiting. Alberobello is the only city, in the world, with an abundance of trulli. They are everywhere! And, they are beautiful! Today, most are fully equipped with all of the conveniences of modern society: air conditioning, internet, cable TV, etc. But, it is important to remember that they were built in a time when these things did not exist, and when furniture and people did not take up so much space. In other words, in most cases, they are smaller in size than what we are used to, in a modern society. I loved the atmosphere of the trullo we stayed in, but one had to practically be an acrobat to be able to get past the bed (which took up every inch of available space in the bedroom), to enter the bathroom, and cooking in the apartment was a real challenge, as the small cone-shaped rooms literally trapped the smell and smoke of whatever were were making. That said, I am very happy that we experienced staying in a trullo, and if one is planning to visit Alberobello for the first time, I recommend doing the same thing, either in a hotel, or by renting an individual apartment made up of a few small trulli.
Once we were settled (in this case, that did not involve unpacking, as there was no place to put our clothes, less yet the huge suitcases we travel with), we set out to explore our surroundings a bit.
I loved the fact that we had a lion perched on top of our bathroom.
The city of Alberobello has a population of approximately 10,735. Designated a World Heritage Site in 1996, tourists flock to the city in droves, especially in the summer months. As I said before, most of them come in for a few hours, or for the day, at most, and most mainly visit the Rione Monti, which was the larger of the Trulli Zones. We were staying at the edge of Rione Aia Piccola, where it met the upper, more modern part of the city. In Rione Aia Piccola, many of the trulli are still inhabited by locals, as opposed to Rione Monti, which is basically filled with vacation rentals, restaurants, and shops.
A plaque on a nearby building paid tribute to Vito Gigante, who was born in the building, and later, as a doctor, fought to save the lives of his fellow citizens, as the Spanish Flu devastated the city.
The Fontana del Belvedere is located at the belvedere, which is a lookout spot at the beginning of the modern part of the city.
A plaque marks the olive tree that was given to Alberobello by the city of Jerusalem, in memory of all those who lost their lives in World War II.
Next up: We explore more of Alberobello!
Note: This blog is written in English and Spanish, and the author takes no responsibility for the quality of any other translations that may appear. If you have enjoyed this post, please, check out our archives for more posts from the region of Puglia, as well as other Italian destinations. Grazie!