Alberobello Photo Guide & The History of Trulli with Pictures & Images. Find out why the unique design of the trulli houses came about as a tax dodge. Alberobello is one of the top 20 destinations in Europe. Hope you enjoy the photos, Paul Williams.
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Trulli Magic Photos of Alberobello
Alberobello in Puglia, Southern Italy really deserves the term “unique”. It is the home of a conical stone roofed house called the Trullo which is a traditional Apulian stone dwelling with a conical roof. In the early morning light the trulli look more like the homes of elves or goblins than serious dwellings for the inhabitants of Alberobello. The streets of trulli bring a smile to even the most hardened tourists face but the history of the trulli is one of poverty and feudal oppression.
The Trullo (Plural – Trulli).
The name cames for the latin word “Turris” and “Trulla” or from the Greek Byzantine word “Torullos” meaning dome.
There were prehistoric settlement in the Itria and the tholos (dome-shaped tomb) tradition of building may have come to the region at this time. The present settlement dates from the mid-14th century, when what appears to have been an uninhabited area was granted to the first Count of Conversano by Robert d’Anjou, Prince of Taranto, in recognition of his service during the Crusades. There was an edict in the Kingdom of Naples asking for a tribute for all new urban settlements so the Counts of Conversano came up with a plan.
“designed to thwart the tax inspectors of the King of Naples”
The Counts of Alberobello ordered that all dwellings should be built without mortar or cement so that the counts bailiffs could pull the dwellings down to thwart the tax inspectors sent by the King of Naples. In this way the Count would avoid paying tax but was still able to tax his tenants who had to rebuild their homes.
The Trullo Design
With restrictions on not using mortar the trullo design became the best logical design for dwellings in the area. Firstly a hole is excavated and a water well is built and covered with a barrel vault that supports the floor. Around this the walls of the trullo are built in about a 3mt square. The walls consist of s layers a thick inner and outer walls filled with rubble or loam for insulation. The tulli have very small windows and a single door entrance. On top of the thick walls, which slope slightly inwards , stone slabs are arranged in a circle consecutive layers stepped inwards and upwards like steps to form a the conical roof. A second layer of smaller slabs is arranged outside this to make a double skinned roof. The conical roof is topped by decorated pinnacle of varying designs. It is not sure if these designs were functional or designed around magical symbols. With endless variable no two trulli are the same.
The Trulli are whitewashed to reflect the sun and some have freehand symbols painted in white on their roofs. Most of these are christian symbols although there are also pagan, magic and Jewish symbols. In the photo above from left to right thr symbols on the trulli rooves mean,
Radial Host – The symbol for Christ
The Dove – The Holy spirit
The Mystery of the Cosmos – The moon and a cross
Mary’s Bleeding Heart
Half visible on the far right the three crosses reresenting the 3 world, Eart, Heaven & Hell
The design of the trulli is an example of early modular building where dwellings can be expanded by butting trulli up next to each other. Families may have several trulli joined together as the family expanded. Alcoves in the wall served as beds for the children and a ceiling at the base of the dome allowed food to be stored in the conical roof.
The thickness of the wall also made the trulli an early example of bio design. In the spring the thick walls of the trulli are cool from the winter cold. Through the summer the sun slowly heats the walls up but not fast enough to heat the interiors which remain cool. By mid Autumn the Tuilli walls are warm which helps keep the interior warm through the winter. The walls slowly cool through the winter and in spring the cycle starts again.
By the mid-16th century the Monti area of Alberobello was occupied by some 40 trulli, but in 1620 that the settlement began to expand, when Count Gian Girolamo Guercio ordered the construction of a bakery, a mill and an inn. By the end of the 18th century the community numbered over 3,500. In 1797 the inhabitants of Alberobello had had enough of their Feudal Rulers and complained to the King of Naples about the way they were being treated and the way in which the Counts avoided Tax by pulling their trulli down. Ferdinand IV, King of Naples used this as an excuse to end feudal rule of the Acquaviva family by giving Alberobello Royal Status, and the ownership of the trulli was given back to their occupants. The name of Alberobello was adopted, taken from the medieval Latin name of the region, siva arboris belli. From this time onwards the construction of new trulli quickly declined.
Today the Monti quarter of Alberobello, which covers 6 hectares on a hillside, contains 1,030 trulli. Its streets run downhill and converge at the base of the hill. The Aja Piccola quarter, with 590 trulli, is less homogeneous than Monti. The streets converge on a common farmyard where in feudal times the peasants were forced to thresh wheat.
UNESCO World Heritage
As with a lot of Southern Italy Alberobello was a poor town and the trulli would have housed the poorest residents of Alberobello. The trulli owners were to have the last laugh though. The trulli have been saved by tourism and UNESCO, who made the 2 Tulli areas of Alberobello a World Heritage site in 1996. Today Alberobello is a major tourist destination which has kept the town alive. There are Hotels in trulli , trulli shops, A trulli church and trulli Restaurants but the town still manages to retain its unique character especially if you avoid the main tourist season. The Trulli hotels have rooms spread around the trulli areas so you can stay in a trulli of your own and experience this unique building on your own.
The Whistle Blowers Of Alberobello
The people of Alberobello are some of the friendliest in the world. This may have come from the long the years of neglect and poverty the South of Italy suffered from or it may come from a sense of pride the people of Alberobello feel for their unique town and traditions such as whistle blowing!!
Blowing whistles, fischetti, has a long tradition in Alberobello. At night courting couples would use unique whistle sounds to tell each other it was safe to meet. Brightly decorated terracotta whistles in the shape of cockerels were given to newly weds as fertility gifts.
La Bottega dei Fischietti on Via Monte Pertica is a whistle shop opposite the Trulli church of in the Rione Monti area of Alberobello. Here you can find over 9,000 whistles made of terracotta in almost any shape and decorated for almost any occasion. The Shop has been run by Anna Maria Mataresse for 42 years. Her charming manner will draw you into her shop where you will be so overwhelmed by the variety of whistles that it will be impossible for you to leave without buying at least one. If you resist her charms and it is not too busy she will probably soften you up with a cup of coffee in the trulli she lives in next door. There is no escaping the infectious charm of these Southern Italians and their natural salesmanship. Each year she runs a whistle design competition and the winning design this year is a whistle that shows Berlusconi sitting in an armchair. The whistle comes out of Berlusconi’s……..well modesty forbids me telling where!!
Apart from the whistles Anna Maria specialises in local linen embroidered with traditional Puglia good luck folk designs. An Italian tradition was for mothers of future brides to purchase a trousseau, the Corredo, full of all the necessary items to begin married life. “We sell many gifts for the corredo” Anna Maria explains enthusiastically showing the traditional folk designs on the linen cloths and T-towels, “because everyone hopes that married life will be blessed with good fortune and children”. She has a workshop next to the shop and other products are also made and embroidered by women at home, often to supplement their pension. Anna Maria is not just an natural entrepreneur, she also brings in much needed income to many households whilst keeping the traditions of Puglia alive. At over 60 Anna Maria’s passion is as strong now as it was when she took over the family shop at the age of 18. Since then she has cast her spell over hundreds of thousands of tourists and has been mentioned in tourist guides and travel articles published around the world. She has even has an all expenses paid trip to appear on Japanese Television. This suggests that her products do bring good luck especially to her.
Alberobello is a surprising place full of interesting inhabitants who are proud of their unique trulli and the ancient traditions of Puglia. Southern Italy has long been neglected and towns like Old Taranto still show a level of neglect and dilapidation that is unbelievable in a modern Italy. Tourism with all its benefits and problems is injecting much needed cash into Puglia and Alberobello and businesses like La Botteca are making sure that the money is kept in the community. Trulli are now a popular purchase amongst the Germans and English, so maybe Tuscany-shire in northern Italy will have a rival in the form of Puglia-shire in the South. Time will tell.
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