Vacation Rentals & Homes in Alberobello
Alberobello, in the region of Puglia in southern Italy, is a strange and picturesque destination which is becoming an important fixture on the travel itineraries of tour operators as well as independent travellers. The small town has been made a UNESCO World Heritage site for its unusual districts of trulli, the characteristic white-washed conical-roofed houses of the area.
It makes an interesting day-trip destination or a pleasant base for a few days - especially if you stay in a trullo of your very own.
A trullo is a small dwelling built from the local limestone, with dry-stone walls and a characteristic conical roof.
It is a traditional and simple type of structure which you'll see dotted around this part of Puglia, sometimes in its most basic form used as a kind of shed among the olive groves.
The story behind Alberobello, once a town of trulli alone, is a typically Italian one: its design was to fiddle taxes and fool the authorities.
The local feudal lord, Count Acquaviva, moved his peasant workers here to clear woodland and cultivate the land.
To wriggle around laws and taxes, it was important that Alberobello didn't class as an inhabited settlement.
So until 1797, when Alberobello was finally given 'town' status, the people had to live in trulli, which could be dismantled in a hurry when necessary.
Things to see in Alberobello & Vacation Rentals & Homes in Alberobello
The principal tourist activity in Alberobello is wandering around looking at trulli. There are also a handful of small museums and plenty of opportunities for buying kitsch souvenirs and tasting local products.
The centre of Alberobello is mostly composed of typical small-town Italian streets and buildings, with a few trulli interspersed among the buildings in a surreal fashion. Some older back streets are lined chiefly with residential trulli.
The most picturesque parts of Alberobello, though, and the strangest, are the two areas composed almost entirely of trulli. Over a thousand of them. Here the little white pointy-topped dwellings are clustered together like a hobbit town.
The most touristy part of Alberobello is Rione Monti, a district on a slope facing the modern town centre. It consists of several narrow lanes sloping upwards, with others winding along the hillside, and is extremely picturesque both from afar and close up. Walking around is enjoyable, but be prepared for constant welcomes from the local vendors sitting outside their trulli shops and bars. You'll find colourful terracotta whistles (a local Puglia thing); some simple local ceramics; trullo snowstorms; sliding pens; and everything possible shaped like a trullo, from moneyboxes, to silver jewellery. Many buildings contain tiny 'bars' where you can sample local wines, which are also sold in the tourist shops along with biscuits and pasta. Although the area is obviously one big tourist trap, the prices aren't extortionate: there's too much competition. The owners will try to entice you in with all sorts of claims and promises: the oldest Trullo, a trullo with a well, an inhabited Trullo, a panoramic terrace, free wine, and liqueur tasting. Especially if you don't have the chance to stay in a trullo, accept the low-key sales pitches and enter to have a look around. You will be able to see some interiors, and the panoramic terraces do have good views. Heading up Via Monte Michele beyond the commerce, the explorer reaches Alberobello's twentieth-century trullo church, the Chiesa di Sant'Antonio.
The second trulli district is called Aia Piccola. This is very different from Rione Monti and is less visited by tourists. It is still a residential area, with quiet lanes lined with little inhabited trulli, one of which we were invited into by two friendly old men.
Getting to Alberobello
The best airports for Alberobello are Bari and Brindisi, both served by budget airlines from the United Kingdom.
From Bari Airport you can simply catch a shuttle bus to Bari railway station then take a little train run by FSE (Ferrovie Sud Est) to Alberobello. At Bari station the FSE platforms are beyond the mainline platforms - facing the front of the station, take a flight of steps leading down under the rails, through an entrance on the left.
There is a sign to Ferrovie Sud Est.
They have a little ticket office on the platform.
You'll probably need to ask to make sure you get on the correct small train - most travellers are regulars and there is little concern for announcements or signs.
Brindisi Airport is close to Lecce, Puglia's other great tourist destination.
Alberobello is a fairly quiet little place and after a day wandering among trulli you may be ready for more exploring.
This is much easier if you have a car.
But it is also possible to make one or two excellent day trips by public transport.
The little FSE trains only take a few picturesque minutes to reach Martina Franca, a pleasant whitewashed-and-baroque town.
On the way they stop at Locorotondo which has a tiny historic centre on a hill with lovely views over the Valle d'Itria, a green landscape dotted with white trulli.
Another stop on the railway line, back in the Bari direction, is Castellana Grotte, which is famous for its extensive and dramatic show caves, the Grotte di Castellana (outside the town).
One of the most interesting day trips, though only really practicable if you hire a car, is Ostuni, one of the most well-known of the area's white hilltop towns.
Stay in a Trullo
The best way to experience trulli is to stay in one.
Rather than snatching a look around a Trullo shop, you can get an idea of what a trullo is like as a home.
There are a few hotels which do have some trullo accommodation, but a comfortable and affordable alternative is to stay in a self-catering trullo apartment.
Sonema offers a very similar range of Vacation Rentals & Homes in Alberobello