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in Art & Culture

ITALY IS THE COUNTRY WITH THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF SITES OF UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE LIST.

The Trulli of Alberobello seem they came straight out of a fairy tale of elves and gnomes.

I trulli al tramonto - Trulli at sunset

The Trulli of Alberobello, a wonderful urban center unique in the world. They seem to come straight from a fairy tale of elves and gnomes. Instead, they really exist; they are located in Puglia, in the Itria valley, mostly concentrated in Alberobello, where they are called simply "casedde". (little houses)

What makes these "casedde" so special, is the shape - a cylinder topped by a cone - and the construction technique – they rest, with no foundations, directly on the rock, with blocks of stone roughly shaped and laid one on the other, without mortar to secure them to each other; and they are covered by a conical structure made of small stone slabs, placed horzontally as in the Mycenaean tombs in Greece. The origin of the name "troullos" is also Greek and means dome.

The archaeological finds of prehistoric times, found in the land of the trulli, suggests that the first structures of this type date back to the Bronze Age.

But how to  explain the flowering of this architectural type in Alberobello between '400 and '500? They spread when was in force a law submitting any settlement to a king's permission and  to the payment of taxes. To avoid this heavy taxation, the Counts of Conversano, urged the farmers sent to colonize what was then an oak forest, only to build houses easy to take down, so that, in case of royal inspection, they were not considered a permanent settlement. This story of temporariness has gradually transformed into a history of civilization: the civilization of dry stone.

In 1797, a courageous group from Alberobello obtained by King Ferdinand IV of Bourbon the decree with which the small village became free from taxes. 

The Trulli of Alberobello - unlike the others that are found in different parts of Apulia and that were used as animals or tools shelters - were built specifically for housing. The characteristic of the thick dry masonry  with very small openings, thanks to its thermal inertia, provides a cool temperature in summer seasons and retains heat during the winter.

Alberobello has entered the list of UNESCO World Heritage in 1996 as an extraordinary example of building type and of an  Italian architectural and rural whole, of a human settlement, of a use of land resources and of a human interaction with the environment. "

"They are tiny round huts, roofed with pointed cone, which apparently can not be entered but by nation of little men, each with a small chimney and a window good for a dollhouse, and with that funny plastering on top of the cone ..." This is how Thomas Fiore in his book "The people of the ants" describes the trulli.

 

From Alberobello it is easy to reach other wonderful Unesco sites:

Castel del Monte: around 110 km heading NW

Sassi di Matera: around 70 heading W

Parco Nazionale del Cilento, Paestum e Velia: around 200 km heading W

Aree archeologiche di Pompei, Ercolano e Torre Annunziata: around 250 km heading W



Alberobello e Ostuni


Photo Credits:

©SitiUnesco.it

Francesco Cioce CC

Patrick Denker CC

Tatinax CC

Riccardo CC

Alessio CC

Andy Gant CC

Giovanni Cioli CC