Panorama of the Trulli - Living In Alberobello - A UNESCO Town

Once, somebody asked me how it feels to live in a town recognized as a World Heritage of Humanity site from UNESCO. I have to admit that before that day I never thought of Alberobello (the town where I am from and where I lived for all my youth & teenage years) in that prospective.
Living the everyday life in a small village – which quietly sits on the ‘heel’ of Italy – does not always make you appreciate it, and its surrounding, in the same way that a tourist would see it.

More & more I found myself showing the town and the famous village buildings called ‘Trullo or Trulli (for more than one)’ to friends not from the area. Watching their astonished expressions made me realized how unique and different Alberobello is.
If somebody would ask me that question again I would probably say that I am proud of being from somewhere uncommon with a singular history behind it.

Old ladies sitting and chatting in front of a trullo - Living In Alberobello - A UNESCO Town

A Peculiar Story

Its history dates back to the second half of the XVI century, when, the local Count gave permission to the colonists to live and work in the forest with the unusual, and clever at the same time, condition that they were not allowed to use lime in the building of their houses in order to get them easily pulled down & dismantled in case of a royal inspection. This trick allowed them to spare themselves from an unjust tax imposed by the King. Only in 1797 did the little rural village became free after a King’s Decree.

When I heard this story for the first time in school I believed it was just a myth or a fairy tale handed down the centuries. I could not quite understand how a building of that shape could stand without any material to bind it all together, what a miracle of architecture!
Only by researching and asking the right people I realized how clever my ancesters had been

Curious on more details on the design of the trulli – World Heritage from UNESCO? Please check: Wikipedia Page on Trulli

Detail of the roof of a Trullo - Living In Alberobello - A UNESCO Town

Dying Trades

Along the years the town has become bigger: in fact here are not only trulli but also modern houses and infrastructures.
People do not build new trulli anymore, they only try to maintain in a good condition and renovate the old ones, mainly because they are one of the main sources of income for the locals that live off the increasing level of tourism. There are very strict local rules and also the world heritage law of UNESCO on how to keep the trulli as close as possible to their original appearance, to never change their ancient look.

Whoever owns a trullo must consider himself really lucky because:

  • eventually, the few people that are able to build a trullo from scratch will disappear and this fascinating old art will only be found written in history books. 🙁
  • buying one is an extremely expensive matter. In some cases, believe or not, its more common that a trullo could cost you more than a modern apartment or house.

Detail of a Trullo Roof - Living In Alberobello - A UNESCO Town

A Modern Look

As you can easily understand from what I’ve stated above, the ‘Alberobellesi’ (people from Alberobello) do not all live in a trullo (people often ask me if I live in a trullo myself). In real fact only very few people (mainly of old age) are still living in these funny looking houses, the rest of them are used as tourist shops or are rented out to people who wants to experience ‘life’ in a trullo during their stay/holiday.

Personally, I like their cuteness and I hope that one day a crazy architect might decide to build a trullo from scratch but in a completely new-modern way, a new viewpoint, but by still keeping to the original idea.

Any takers for this challenge?