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Trulli of Alberobello

Embodying the cultural heritage and natural splendor of Puglia in southern Italy, Trulli cluster in Alberobello to exteriorize a whimsical interpretation of the prehistoric town. While the mortar-less Trulli were meant to be provisional, they stack up as a nationally protected cultural site.

Series of Trulli huts with whitewashed walls and conical roofs.
Whitewashed lower walls and conical limestone roofs distinguish Trulli huts. Photo courtesy of Pak Shilla

Farmers built the earliest Trulli huts as rural outposts for watching over distant fields and as storehouses as early as the 13 century. The temporary tapered structures were constructed by staking nearby limestone, karst, and calcareous fragments. When the Itria Valley fell under the control of the Kingdom of Naples, the building practice took on new, political purpose. In towns such as Alberobello, the dry-stone construction allowed residents to evade taxes on permanent dwellings as Trulli could be quickly dismantled. Alberobello would continue to grow with 40 Trulli counted in the Rione Monti district in the mid-16th century. As the tax situation stabilized, the local population started building more permanent Trulli before the method fell out of favor after the 17th century. While Trulli were primarily built for residential use, today tourism accommodations and commercial business have breathed new life into Alberobello.

Map of Trulli distribution in Alberobello.

The Trulli of Alberobello are divided into two main districts: Rione Monti and Rione Aia Piccola. Rione Monti is the central and more famous part of Alberobello, characterized by narrow lanes and cobblestone streets lined with hundreds of Trulli. Located to the east of Rione Monti, Rione Aia Piccola means "Small Courtyard" and the less densely packed Trulli here were used for storage, barns, or workshops. Alberobello is the only town center comprised entirely of Trulli.

Densely packed Trulli in central Alberobello.
The densely packed town center of Alberobello. Photo courtesy of Hervé Simon

Trulli tend to be rectangular structures topped with conical corbelled roofs. Limestone excavated on site or from nearby fields were stacked using a dry-stone method that doesn’t utilize mortar or cement. Instead two walls were built and filled with rubble to provide the building its structure. The whitewashed lower walls held up the limestone slab corbelled roofs. Distinctive to the Trulli of Alberobello are white ash markings in various mythological and religious iconography intentioned to ward off evil influences. Tightly packed together in a mesmerizing, maze-like arrangement, the conical Trulli with various symbols create an urban fairytale-like atmosphere.

Street with merchants in adapted Trulli huts.
The tightly packed conical Trulli create an urban fairytale atmosphere. Photo courtesy of Pak Shilla


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