On a road trip to Puglia, one stop not to be missed is Alberobello, a small town filled with 1,500 trulli. These unique limestone buildings with conical roofs are seen across this part of Puglia, but there is such a mass of them in Alberobello that they were declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.
The trulli are certainly unlike anything I’ve seen before and although Alberobello has inevitably become a magnet for tourists we still decided to stay a couple of nights and experience life in a trullo.
Our ‘home’ was in Rione Aia Piccola where commercial activities are not permitted, so the 400 trulli are purely used for residential purposes. Some are rented out to visitors, but others are the homes of local families and it’s a quieter area to wander around. You can even find a few unrestored trulli that look quite different to the rest.
On the other side of Alberobello’s main street Via Independenza is Rione Monti. That has a much bigger concentration of around 1,000 trulli. The paved streets of Rione Monti have lots of trullo bars, shops and restaurants as well as plenty of people, though it’s much quieter later in the evenings. That’s also when the trulli are lit up, so it’s worth staying overnight in Alberobello to see it like that.
Most of the shops are selling similar souvenirs, but it’s worth popping into ones that have a terrace available to climb up to for views of the rooftops up close. It’s free to do that, but it’s kind of expected that visitors will buy something, or leave a tip if there is a basket for donations.
It’s also worth paying a couple of Euros to visit Trullo Sovrano, which is Alberobello’s only two-floor trullo. It was built by a wealthy priest’s family and is now a small museum showcasing trullo life including a bedroom with a pretty small bed!
Trullo Sovrano also has a good souvenir shop with books about the local area and Alberobello recipe books. We picked up a small book that helped us learn more about the trulli, including the meaning of the various symbols and pinnacles on the tops of the conical roofs. We enjoyed walking around trying to spot examples of the different types.
Also in this part of the town is Alberobello’s cathedral. The basilica isn’t a trullo but is quite a pretty building with twin bell towers which I think represent the two saints it was named after, Cosma and Damiano.
Though probably the more interesting church to see in Alberobello is the Church of Saint Anthony which sits at the top of Via Monti Pertica in Rione Monti. Although it’s not a trullo, the church was built in the same architectural style and looks great.
As mentioned earlier, lots of the trulli have been converted into restaurants and they can get busy so it’s probably best to book in advance. We had a nice meal and very friendly service at L’Aratro, a trullo restaurant in Via Monte San Michele.
We also really enjoyed dinner at Trattoria Amatulli in Via Garibaldi, a traditional eaterie with lots of photos on the walls and a very drinkable house wine for only five euros a bottle! We also had their version of Bagna Frise which you’ll know all about if you’ve read my post about Ostuni.
If you’re in the market for breakfast or lunch I can also recommend Cosi Com’era in Alberobello’s main square Piazza del Popolo. We had excellent omelettes and there are tables inside and outside overlooking the town hall on the opposite side of the square.
Diagonally across the piazza from the cafe is Belvedere Santa Lucia, a small terrace with one of the best views of the Rione Monti trulli cascading down the hillside. You might have to wait a little while to get to the photo spot but it’s worth it.
Once you’ve had your fill of the trulli, Alberobello is also close to a couple of other small Puglian towns that you can visit. We decided on an afternoon trip to Locorotondo and went by train so we didn’t need to find somewhere to park and could have a glass of wine before heading back.
Locorotondo has been called one of Italy’s most beautiful towns and it’s definitely a very pretty place. In the pedestrianised historical centre the buildings are white and shimmer in the sunshine while the roads are paved with ivory coloured stones.
The circular structure of the old town’s streets is centred around the cathedral, known as the Mother Church of St. George the Martyr in Piazza Fra Giuseppe Andrea Rodio. But if you wind your way out to Largo S. Rocco on the edge of the old town, you’ll find Santa Maria della Greca which is a much simpler but pretty little Romanesque church
Locorotondo sits on a hilltop, so there are fab panoramic views from Villa Comunale, a public garden overlooking a valley that is dotted with trulli. From here you can walk downhill along Via Nardelli and you’ll soon come to some vineyards as this is the heart of the Pugliese wine region.
The Contora wine bar looked a good place to stop for a drink and enjoy the views of the vines and olive groves but sadly wasn’t open. So we walked back up Via Nardelli to head into the old town opposite Villa Comunale and quickly found a nice table outside Caffe della Villa in Piazza Vittorio Emanuele. A perfect spot for a late afternoon glass (or two) of local wine.
Then it was back to Alberobello on the train for one last wander around the unique architecture of the trulli, which I really don’t think I’ll be seeing anywhere else in the world.
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