Unusual Trulli Houses
Puglia’s Trulli houses, round and one-story, have mysterious origins. The exact age of these constructions is unknown, as is not known the reason for the conical shape of the roofs. Not seen anywhere in Europe, they can be visited in the beautiful countryside south of Bari, but especially around the towns of Alberobello and Martina Franca. Both settlements are full of tourists eager to admire these unusual buildings.
Almost everything in these trulli houses is shrouded in mystery. The only simple thing about them is how they have been built and their remarkable practical character – they are cool in the summer, warm in the winter and easy and cheap to build. The only uncertainty is their absence in the rest of the Mediterranean regions, where climatic conditions and construction materials are often identical. The simplest of them have unmarked stone walls over which the roof is supported. Most of them are whitewashed and some have a distinctive sign on the top of the roof, a cross or a bizarre symbol, signs of magical or superstitious significance. Often roofs are also painted with hieroglyphs.
The oldest theories about these constructions refer to the peasantness of the peasants. During the fifteenth century, Ferdinand I of Aragon banned his subjects in Puglia from building permanent homes, in the idea that he could move his workforce wherever he wanted. In response, the inhabitants of Puglia – or At least it is supposed to – they built these houses easily, if their masters wanted to move elsewhere, or if it had come to the news that one of the imperial empowered officials was preparing an unannounced visit. There is another theory, as these houses were a sophisticated method of tax avoidance, that the Aragonese taxed all dwellings, excluded from these taxes being those dwellings that were unfinished; The inhabitants of Puglia were easily entered into this category because they could very easily remove (and then put back) pieces of stone from the structure of their houses.
These theories are, indeed, quite bizarre, but perhaps the origins of these trulli houses are even more strange than the oldest probably dates from the thirteenth century even though most of them are not older than 200 or 300 years. Some specialists associate these constructions with those in Micena, Greece, which means they belong to a civilization about 5,000 years old. These associations are not at all dangerous, since the ports of Puglia are closest to the Greek territory of all the ports of Italy. Moreover, much of this territory belonged once to Magna Graecia – southern Italy and Sicily were colonized by the Greeks between the Vlll and IIIth centuries.
Unfortunately, this theory does not explain why trully houses have such limited geographical coverage. There would be a theory that they would be related to the so-called “sugar caps” discovered in Syria and other Middle Eastern countries, and that they would initially have been built as caves or cells by monks who had come There in Apulia. Later, locals would have copied these constructions and adapted them for home use. Another theory is that this architectural style would have been introduced through these parts by the Crusaders who disembarked in the ports of Apulia on their return from the crusades.
If you are interested in the trulli houses, head to Alberobello, where you will find about 1,500 such buildings. Alberobello means “beautiful tree” and comes from the original Latin name, Silva Arboris Belii, inspired by the oak forests that once adorned this region.
But do not forget that the city is extremely busy, because some of these trulli have been turned into hotels, restaurants and shops where all sorts of souvenirs are sold.
Other trulli can be admired in a more idyllic landscape, along the road leading to Martina Franca and the windmill along the Itria Valley, from Martina Franca to Locorotondo.
Although the suburbs leave much to be desired, it is worth a stopover at Martina Franca to admire the baroque buildings on Via Cavour, the Ducal Palace (1668) and the Church of San Martino (1747-1775). The city walls and Viale de Gaspari, in particular, offer a splendid view of the region.