The largest concentration of trulli in Alberobello looks like a cluster of beehives. In these beehives, Italian artisans go to work focusing on the main craft of the area–woven textiles among others.
The mere sight of trulli covered hills is the main reason why so many make the pilgrimage out to Alberobello. In Italian, Albero Bello translates to beautiful tree. It got its name from the tree “silva arboris belli” that used to be on this land back in the 11th century. The minute you step out onto Belvedere Santa Lucia viewpoint, you move from white rectangular buildings to an open floor belvedere facing a sea of trulli. From here you can admire the impressive sight of tiny streets climbing up a hill lined with Trulli on the Rione Monti, or mountain district.
What is A Trullo?
You may already know the story behind how trulli came to be like the one I stayed at called Trullo a ll’era. Trulli were houses once built by poor people to avoid tax men. When the tax men would visit, the inhabitants of the trullo would take out a brick and the whole structure would collapse. When the tax man would stop by, he would see there was no house and proceed about his business. Once he left, the inhabitants would rebuild the trullo. Today trulli have been turned into more stable abodes and stays.
Stay in a Trullo Near Alberobello
What Are The Symbols On the Trullo?
Trulli are often adorned with symbols on the top or painted on the conical roof. The symbols usually have religious or astrological meaning and can range from the cross, to planetary signs, the malocchi or evil eye, hearts, stars, and a few others. Geometric patterns of circles, lines, and dots are from the pre-Roman era. Eventually some underwent a Christian reinterpretation, transforming the symbols into religious symbols. Pagan symbols are from the Ancient Roman era. Lastly, the more modern symbol is the ornament that best represents the owner of the trullo or his profession.
In Alberobello, many of the symbols you will find on the trulli are tied to religion. For example, the trident represents the Holy Trinity and the heart struck by an arrow is a symbol of Mary’s pierced heart.
What Is Alberobello Known For?
Alberobello is primarily known for having the largest concentration of trulli in the world. The trulli are divided into two areas: Rione Monti, which is where all the stores, restaurants and tourists go, and Rione Aia Piccola, where the 11,000 local inhabitants live. Alberobello’s trulli were built in the 17th century by a count who wanted these dwellings built for his own lavish use. He had the builders inscribe symbols onto the stone conical roofs to ward off evil spirits. Over 1000 of the trulli in Alberbello are deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The reasoning for being a UNESCO is that it is a great example of historical architecture and construction techniques survived into the modern day era and urban landscape. It’s basically lingo for, Alberobello is a UNESCO for being a piece of art.
Trulli in Rione Monti Area
Today, over 1000 of the trulli in the Rione Monti tourist neighborhood are used for artisan shops and restaurants open to the public. There are so many trulli, they can hold a capacity of about 3 million people! And I hope they never get to that or we’ll have another Mykonos or Venice situation on our hands. Unfortunately, a lot of these stores have turned into tourist shops, but if you know where to go, you could still find some very unique artisan crafts. I found more luck when I made my way to the outskirts.
What many don’t know is that if you look beyond the surface, Alberobello is known for one more very unique thing–its crafts, and more specifically its woven textiles. Shopping in Alberobello becomes even more fun, when the shops themselves are actual trulli. I walked by a few studios that showed pictures of women at work weaving using antique machinery. Their table cloths, hand towels and more were on display. You could walk inside the studio and get to know the artist and learn about the traditional patterns.
Trulli in Rione Aia Piccola
In the local neighborhood of Alberobello, you will find 400 inhabited trulli. Signs everywhere say to please be courteous and quiet as you walk through the streets since locals live in the area. There is a total absence of tourist activities and shops here. Just a maze of narrow streets and alleys. This feels like a more local Alberobello.
Eat a Panzerotto – A Typical Apulian Delicacy
You can’t leave Alberobello without eating what might be considered the #1 must-have Apulian delicacy of the region–Panzerotti. It is the one thing you have to do when visiting Alberobello. And there is one specific place you need to go to get it. If you’re in Italy and want to get a real taste for local food aside from your stereotypical pasta, pizza, gelato, then you must have a Panzerotto, a typical Apulian street food. We found, or more like our noses found…a bakery on the outskirts of Rione Monti and Rione Aia Piccola.
Panificio “Casa del Pane” di Recchia Maria is the spot for that affordable, delicious, homemade Apulian food away from the crowds. Trust me, this is the spot. I ran back and bought another Panzerotto for the plane ride home that day. That’s how good they were. Their secret ingredient to making every baked good in there so freaking amazing? I honestly don’t know. It could be there oven, which is an oven used in antique and traditional Apulian cooking that’s been handed down for the last 60 years, generation after generation. And the cost? Like it should be. Something around 1,50 for 1 panzerotto.
I’ll spare you the time and respond to you know right now–you’re welcome. And if you need a Panzerotti hook-up ASAP and are around NYC, visit Panzerotti Bites in Carroll Gardens.
>> Next: Essential Travel Guide to Polignano a Mare, Italy
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