After visiting the beach of Lama Monachile in Polignano a Mare, and after having slept again in the Baia San Giorgio campsite, we left the following day to visit another famous town in Puglia, the municipality of Alberobello. That same evening we would have slept in the San Lorenzo campsite, near Torre dell’Orso.
The history of Alberobello began in the 16th century when Count Andrea Matteo introduced in the area about forty farmers families to reclaim and cultivate the land, with the obligation to give him the tenth of the crops. In 1635 his successor, Count Giangirolamo II, erected an inn with a refectory, tavern and oratory, followed by the first small houses.
The abundance of materials in the area, and the obligation by the count to build houses, called trulli, with dry stone walls (without the use of mortar), contributed to the rapid expansion of the city, characterized by houses with a shape and a specific structure. The obligation to built houses using only dry stone walls was an expedient of the count in order to avoid paying taxes to the Spanish vice king of the Kingdom of Naples. According to the “Pragmatica de Baronibus” (a law in force until the 18th century second), the construction of a new town first required the royal assent (the permission of the Crown) and subsequently imposed the payment of tributes to the Royal Court.
Alberobello remained a fief of the Acquaviva d’Aragona of Conversano until 1797, when King Ferdinand IV of Bourbon, who was a guest in Taranto at the Archbishop Giuseppe Capecelatro, issued a decree by which he elevated the small village to the royal city, freeing it from servitude feudal of accounts.
Alberobello is the only inhabited center in which there is an entire district of trulli. It is therefore considered cultural capital of the trulli of Valle d’Itria. The trulli of Alberobello have become UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
Our visit to Alberobello started in Viale Putignano parking (free parking – Google Maps) where we left the car before starting the walk inside the trulli. The first stage of our journey was the Trullo Sovrano (Google Maps), located in a more isolated area than the city center.
The Trullo Sovrano, originally called Papa Cataldo, perhaps because of the family of the priest Cataldo Perta who had it built and lived there, was built in the first half of the eighteenth century. It was built with the use of mortar, in open violation of the prerogative of Baronibus. The trullo was the seat of the confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament from 1826 to 1837, and subsequently it was acquired by the Sumerano family in 1861, starting from 1994 (following a series of restorations) it is used as a museum.
Subsequently, after a short visit to the outside of the Trullo Sovrano, we moved to the area of Rione Monti (Google Maps), located about 10 minutes of walk from the Trullo Sovrano, where is located the largest concentration of trulli. Here we could admire, from the outside and sometimes even from the inside, an incredible number of trulli, walking through the streets crowded with tourists from all over the world. Unfortunately, our first sensations were not very positive, walking through the streets of the Rione Monti you often have the impression of being in a reproduction of Alberobello, a fictitious theme park designed as a tourist trap.
Almost all the trulli have been transformed into souvenir shops, and many of these try to get the most tourists self-electing to “oldest trullo of Alberobello”, promising free tours that then turn out to be simple tricks to increase sales of exhibited items. Nothing wrong, everyone is free to do what he believes in/of his house, however when you are faced with a large number of trulli-shop a bit of magic disappears … If nothing else, after walking a lot inside the district, it is possible to find some streets that are not very popular with tourists, which for this reason still maintain an aura of authenticity.
After the visit of the Rione Monti we went to the Parish Church of Sant’Antonio (Google Maps), characterized by a structure with a Greek cross and similar features to those of the trulli that surround it.
Agricampeggio San Lorenzo
That same night, and the next too, we would have spent the night in the San Lorenzo camping, located in Melendugno (just outside the town of Torre dell’Orso) in the province of Lecce. To welcome us on our arrival we found the two owners (of which unfortunately I do not remember the names), who have done their utmost to make our stay as comfortable as possible. Among the most interesting features of the campsite I mention the grills and the shared kitchen (we took advantage of it to make a magnificent barbecue), the pool table (which unfortunately we did not touch) and the pitches covered with sheets to shield the sun’s rays. Among the negative aspects I point out the showers, decidedly cold and short. Overall, however, we were extremely satisfied.
Unlike the previous day, when the visit of Polignano a Mare has proved to be far above my expectations, the visit of the trulli of Alberobello has failed, for the reasons already exposed, to give me the desired emotions. Not least I hope that my story does not remove Alberobello from the wishlist of your next destinations, it is still a special place that deserves to be visited, even if with due premises. Have you already been to Alberobello? How did you find the area?
In two weeks I will publish the eighth article about this incredible road trip. In the meantime enjoy the photos!