Today we shifted about 60 kilometers to a city in the mountains called Alberobello. It is famous for a style of home called Trulli. It is very much on the tourist list. We were a little apprehensive because some of the blogs Ton uses to prepare for visits warned that this was one of the densest places for tourists in Italy, rivaling Rome for crowds.
The Trulli homes got their start in the 16th century because the Duke who ran the area wanted to avoid taxes so he decreed that the homes of peasants be built of stone without mortar so that when the Kings tax assessor came around the buildings could be taken apart, reducing his taxes. This went on for a couple of hundred years until the peasants finally appealed to the church to end the practice. This method of construction was also used for storage buildings and field shelters.
The biggest collection of these homes are in Alberobello, and since it had a nice Sosta (Italian Aire) right in the middle of town we headed there for the day. I had a feeling that getting into the Sosta might be a little tricky, and since we have not had a simple day on this trip, I figured that we were in for a little adventure. The drive up the mountain was on narrow and rough roads, but we really had no issues. When we got to Alberobello Greta the Garmin routed us right thru the city center. It was tight but again we didn’t run into any trouble, until I came to a Y in the road and had to make a quick decision whether to take the left Y or the right Y. I picked the right one and I was wrong. Greta reprogrammed us and told us basically to go around the block. When we were only a couple of hundred yards from the Sosta we ran into a bridge marked 3 meters. I stopped up short and took a look at it, François is 2.9 meters tall. I had Ton get out and take a look and she wasn’t sure, so she had me get out and take a look. Fortunately the road was not very busy, and the people who came along seemed to understand our predicament and maneuvered around us without any comment. We finally decided it wasn’t worth the risk, and I backed into a road behind us while Ton held up traffic like a good Italian wife, we then found another way into the Sosta.
After our minor adventure, we settled into the Sosta and had a quick lunch. It was then time to brave the crowds in town to take in the Trulli homes. There are two major clusters of the homes on adjacent hills. One is the main tourist attraction and has over 4o0 of the buildings. Many of them have now been converted into tourist shops and restaurants.
We were pleasantly surprised that the crowds were manageable. Ton really enjoyed herself taking photos and a lot of the Trulli are really nicely decorated on the outside.
We strolled up the hill to a church that was built in the Trulli style. It was interesting though once inside it felt like any other church.
The other cluster of Trulli buildings is on a hill adjacent to the main group. It has about 200 structures, the difference is that these Trulli cannot be converted to commercial uses but must be maintained as homes. While they are “homes”, it looks like the majority are being used as vacation rentals.
It was much quieter on this side of town and we enjoyed walking among the buildings. They really are interesting to look at and quite unlike anything we have seen anywhere else.
Our final stop of the day was the conventional cathedral in the new part of town. It is a small but nice cathedral. Ton really admired the modern version of the stations of the cross which reminded her of religious art we had seen in a church in Romania. We also enjoyed it because it had good air conditioning and it was about 90 degrees outside. We lingered inside for awhile admiring the art and enjoying the AC before deciding to head back to François to honor the Italian siesta.
After a nice siesta we headed back into town to take a look at the Trulli at night. When we were at the cathedral we noticed they were setting up decorations for a festival. When we went by some of the decorations were lit up.
It had cooled off substantially and the crowds were thinned out, because all of the bus tours had cleared off. We found a new road of Trulli to explore and Ton again enjoyed taking lots of pictures.
We spent a couple of hours again looking around and in addition to taking in the interesting architecture, we enjoyed watching the people. It was a nice evening stroll.
So far the two towns we have visited in Puglia have not disappointed, in fact they have outperformed our expectations. We are looking forward to seeing the rest of the region and finding some Primitivo wine to try.