There exists a cutesy little town—Alberobello—in the Apulia region of Italy. It is famous as one of the most extraordinary examples of Italian folk architecture; it is home to the world’s oldest existing trulli – small round cone-roofed stone-houses built in the 14th century – that earned the region the title of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here’s looking at Alberobello in 10 pictures, along with some more interesting facts, that are totally worth drooling over. By Rashima Nagpal
- The town is named after the primitive oak forest Arboris Belli (beautiful trees) that once covered this area.
- The word ‘trulli’ derives from the late Greek word for dome and refers to the ancient stone houses with conical roofs, constructed with the abundant limestone from the plateau of Apulia’s Murge zone.
- Legend has it that this dry-wall construction, made without mortar, was imposed on the peasants of the area in the 15th Century, in order to evade an edict by the Kingdom of Naples that demanded tribute, or tax, on every new urban construction.
- Trulli were first thought of as temporary and unstable, easy to demolish, and not taxable. Instead they turned out to be anything but unstable. Their internal structure, compact and without any elements of support or linkage, remains marvelously durable.
- The walls’ thickness, as well as the scarcity of windows, ensures an ideal thermic equilibrium: warmth in winter and cool temperatures in summer.
- The keystone, often decorated with esoteric, spiritual or astrological signs, is a very important structural element. And the large and prominent frame protruding from the roof is utilized for the collection and transfer of rainwater into ad hoc cisterns.
- Alberobello is universally-known as the capital of the Trulli. It is the only in the world to have an entire district of trulli. Here, each trullo is of different shape and size. Unique constructions, they are sometimes combined in a complex of communicating houses, while others are built on two levels.
- It was on May 27, 1797, when King Ferdinand IV of Bourbon, who was a guest in Taranto by the archbishop, welcomed the petition of a delegation consisting of three civilians and four priests from Alberobello (don Vito Onofrio Lippolis, Don Vito Nicola Tinelli and Don Francesco Sgobba) and issued a decree by which he elevated the small village to the royal city, freeing it from the feudal servitude of the counts.
- Alberobello has a population of just over a 1000 people.
- The Rione Monti quarter within the ‘trulli zone’ is the place to go completely touristy at. With about 1,000 trulli all around, it feels like a world straight out of a Disneyland set!
We’re sure you feel like packing your bags right now! But consider this: considering the town’s growing popularity, Alberobello is flocked with tourists between June and October, when the weather is warm. Months from December to February are mildly cold. Also, twice-yearly UNESCO in Jazz Festival Alberobello happens in April and December. And Festa Patronale dei Santi Medici Cosma e Damiano, in September, celebrates Alberobello’s patron saints, with a parade of their statues across town, plus music and fireworks.