Spotlight on: Itria Valley, “Land of the Trulli”

Let's Go to Italy Together!The Itria Valley is renowned as the land of the trulli.

Even though it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, I had never heard of trulli before I decided to go to Puglia. So, just in case you haven’t heard of them either…

Visit the charming Itria Valley

Visit the charming Itria Valley

What are the trulli?
A trullo (plural, trulli) is a traditional Puglian dry stone hut with a conical roof and they are specifically found in the Itria Valley, in the southern Murgia area of Puglia.

Trulli have been around for many hundreds of years, though the oldest surviving ones date back only to the 16th century partially due to the fact that they were easily made and easily knocked down.

Trulli were generally constructed as temporary field shelters and storehouses or as permanent dwellings by small proprietors or agricultural laborers. Inasmuch as they were easily dissembled, when the property tax collectors came to town, they arrived and found little more than piles of debris. No sooner did they leave than the trulli and the locals would magically reappear! Ah, even tax evasion has very ancient roots!

The unique construction of a trullo:
A typical trullo  has a cylindrical base with a conical limestone-tiled roof. Though built without cement, their thick white-painted stone walls ensure coolness in the summer and warmth in the winter.

Roofs: The roofs are constructed in two “skins” with an outer skin of limestone slabs.  Slightly tilted outward, they keep the structure watertight.

Pinnacles: In Alberobello atop a trullo’s cone there is normally a hand-worked sandstone pinnacle (pinnacolo), that may be one of many designs – disk, ball, cone, bowl, polyhedron, or a combination thereof, and is supposed to be the signature of the stonemason who built the trullo.

Whitewashed symbols: The roof was often painted with an evil eye, a cross or an astronomical symbol and topped by an ornamental flourish.

Unique & fascinating...

Unique & fascinating…

Such symbols may include Christian symbols such as a simple cross, a cross on a heart pierced by an arrow (representing Santa Maria Addolorata, i.e. Our Lady of Sorrows), a circle divided into four quarters with the letters S,C,S,D in them (for Sanctus Christus and Sanctus Dominus according to one source, but more likely the initials of Santo Cosma and Santo Damiano, the two saints the local basilica is dedicated to) and quite a few others.

Interiors: The vast majority of trulli have one plastered, whitewashed room under each conical roof, with additional living spaces in arched alcoves where children would sleep with curtains hung in front. A multi-roomed trullo house has many cones representing a room each.Photo by Victoria De Maio

Where are the trulli found?
Valle D’Itria: The Valle D’Itria, between the towns of Putignano and Martina Franca, is the best place for trullo-hunting.

We will visit the UNESCO world heritage site and center of the Trulli District: Locorotondo, whose white houses dominate the valley; Martina Franca, a charming stop en route: and Alberobello, where there is the largest concentration of trulli.

Locorotondo: Rising above sea level at the junction of Bari, Taranto and Brindisi provinces, Locorotondo was probably settled several centuries before Christ. As is typical of so many regions, over the centuries, it experienced waves of growth, prosperity and turmoil. Today, Locorotondo offers breathtaking views over Valle d’Itria dotted with trulli.

Martina Franca: Martina Franca offers the ultimate charm and allure of this region. Baroque churches, archways and balconies with colorful spring flowers accent white washed buildings. Looking up and all around while strolling through the winding narrow alleys…always curious and wondering what’s around the next corner?

Alberobello: Strolling along the quartieri (districts) known as Monti and Aia Piccola, we will find streets of trulli. The Monti, comprising of over 1000 trulli on a hillside, has some of the oldest buildings while the Aia Piccola is known for its impressive network of narrow alleyways.

 Visiting the Itria Valley is often a highlight of visiting this region and it’s easy to see why!

The trulli are “truly” unique and fascinating!

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