Alberobello is an Italian town of 10.617 inhabitants in the metropolitan city of Bari, in Puglia.
Famous for its characteristic houses called “Tuguri” or Casedde “, Italianized with trulli which since 6 December 1996 have been protected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, is part of the Itria Valley and the Murgia dei Trulli.
The historian Pietro Gioia has speculated that the name Alberobello derives from Silva alboris belli, with the meaning of “forest of the tree of war” and this derivation, without documentary evidence, has long been made its own by later historians. Later studies underline, however, that the first toponym with which the locality was known was Silva Alborelli: this is the result of the oldest document known to scholars, namely the investiture diploma of May 15, 1481 with which King Ferrante of Aragon assigned the assets of the late Count of Conversano Julius Antonio I Acquaviva of Aragon to his illiterate son Andrea Matteo. This document reads Silva Alborelli in our province of Bari.
The name Alberobello became official on June 22, 1797 from the first City Council. In this circumstance the names of Ferrandina were also proposed in honor of King Ferrante of Aragon and Ferdinandina in honor of King Ferdinand IV of Bourbon. [Citation needed] However, until the nineteenth century the alternative terms Arborebello or Albero Bello were also adopted.
Also known as the “capital of the trulli”, Alberobello is a village in Puglia where it is absolutely worth a visit if you decide to spend your holidays in this wonderful Italian region.
The trulli are a type of conical construction of dry stone, traditional of central-southern Puglia. Most of them arise in the Itria Valley, where Alberobello is located. These buildings are the improvement of the prehistoric thòlos, present in the various areas of Italy, however the trulli are distinguished from them by their continuity of use.
Alberobello’s oldest trulli date back to the 14th century. It was in that period that this land, initially uninhabited, was assigned to the first count of Conversano Andrea Matteo III Acquaviva d Aragona, who decided to introduce about forty peasant families from the fief of Noci. With the passage of time arose in the area of rural settlements which, merging gradually formed real villages nicknamed later Aia Piccola and Monti.
To avoid paying taxes on new settlements in the Kingdom of Naples, the construction of dry, mortar-free walls was imposed on the new settlers, so that they could be easily dismantled. However, the use of this particular building technique was also due to the abundance of limestone and karst in those areas, which were used for construction.
Let’s start our journey in this wonderful town!
It is one of the most magical places in Puglia, the Monti di Alberobello district with its characteristic alleys, where more than a thousand trulli are concentrated, the heart of the country and the symbol of Puglia.
A walk in the Rione Monti is equivalent to an immersion in history, admiring the characteristic architecture of the trulli and the symbols that distinguish them in the heart of Alberobello.
Eight roads and about 15 hectares draw what has been a National Monument and UNESCO World Heritage Site for over a century. The ancient district with white houses with dark domes reveals infinite treasures and more than a thousand trulli. From the main and most suggestive streets, via Monte San Michele, via Monte Nero, via Monte Pasubio, to the smaller dominated alleys, on the hill, and to the trullo church of Sant’Antonio.
The district of Rione Monti is made up of 1030 trulli. These are aligned along the margins of eight irregular streets that proceed towards the top of the hill, on top of which stands the church of Sant’Antonio da Padova, also in the shape of a trullo.
Unfortunately, today the Rione Monti is crossed by a non-stop tourist flow and has turned into a large market of souvenirs that are not always handmade. However, it remains a place of extraordinary charm in which some testimonies of peasant life in the trulli resist.
The Siamese Trulli, the Trullo House and the Trullo Church are worth visiting.
Going up the Rione Monti along the stairway of via Monte Nero you will find two trulli joined by the same roof. They are the Siamese Trulli, an ancient building in Alberobello that has remained practically intact over the centuries.
According to legend, the Siamese trulli were inhabited by two brothers. The eldest was to marry a girl who was madly in love with her younger brother. For a while, the three lived in the same trullo but when the blind jealous brother sent the couple away, the trullo was divided into two and another entrance was built on Via Pasubio (behind).
Today in the Siamese Trulli there is a souvenir shop. In front there is a trullo inhabited by an old lady who for a free offer allows you to visit a trullo still inhabited and furnished. The best known however are the Siamese Trulli, united on the top but with entrances that open on two different roads.
Once connected by an external door, it is said that they were separated following a feud between two brothers, in love with the same girl. Many of the trulli in this area are home to small shops and craft shops where you can do some shopping.
At the end of the Monti district there is a characteristic Church in Trullo. It was built in 1927 and is dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua, of which it houses a relic. It is not exceptionally beautiful, but it has a Greek cross interior and a 21 meters high dome that incorporates the typical shapes of the nearby trulli.
The church of Sant ‘Antonio is a sober trullo-shaped building of worship, and it is especially indicated for the singular typology that leads back to the traditional forms of building. Raised in a few months and open to the public in June 1927, it represented the extreme appendage of the Monti district and arose as a symbol of struggle against other religions, at least according to the tradition reported in the activity of the client, Don Antonio Lippolis.
It is recognizable by a monumental entrance preceded by a staircase dominated by a rose window, which lead directly into the Greek cross hall, recognizable by the cone visible on the outside, and by side chapels with sail coverings; next to one of them is the bell tower, whose central body has a tower iconography.
Today, albeit immersed in the landscape of the Rione Monti, it has aroused, together with other buildings, many controversies on the need for the effective recovery of a building canon that was already being lost in the 20th century.
Beyond the entrance, in the central nave, there is a fresco by Adolfo Rollo, depicting several Saints, but also a Christ Pantocrator.
Rione Aia Piccola
It is a neighbourhood located in the south-east side of Alberobello and takes its name from the fact that in ancient times there was a “small” farmyard, used for the collection of tithes, as opposed to another “larger” farmyard present in the area. Today the entire neighbourhood is perhaps the most characteristic and peaceful corner of the city, in many ways still inhabited by citizens of Alberobello and free from the chaotic air of the bazaars of the other trulli district.
Here you can still breathe the living charm of these unique structures in the world. A national monument since 1930 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996, the Aia piccola district is certainly a place not to be missed for those visiting Alberobello.
Rione Aia Piccola is less touristy and more authentic than Monti. The name evokes the ancient custom of beating wheat in the village square, called “small” to distinguish it from the nearby Piazza delle Erbe. In the district there are about 400 trulli and 1,300 inhabitants with few souvenir shops and a lot of village life.
This is a perfect place to immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the old medieval village since, compared to other areas of the city, it is the only one not to be invaded by commercial activities.
Do not miss the suggestive Living Nativity during the Christmas period. In this district there are the Oil Museum and that of the Territory which tell centuries of peasant life and agriculture in Alberobello and surroundings.
The largest trullo of Alberobello is located outside the monumental area just behind the church of Santi Cosma e Damiano. For its size it is called by all Trullo Sovrano even if the real name until 1916 was the court of Pope Cataldo. Built as the home of the priest Cataldo Perta (1744-1809), it represented a kind of hamlet with the trulli around which the employees lived.
Trullo Sovrano is located in the northern part of Alberobello, behind the Church of Saints Medici Cosma and Damiano. It represents the only trullo to have an elevated floor, reachable from the inside through a masonry staircase, one of the first to be built with mortar. The majestic conical dome, about 14 meters high, stands imposingly in the center of a group consisting of twelve cones.
Trullo Sovrano is, therefore, a transitional building that heralds the general change in the construction technique of the trulli, in fact the master builder, who remained unknown, adopted unique construction solutions that make this building the most advanced and admirable interpretation of trullo architecture .
The current left wing constitutes its original nucleus, which can be traced back to the early 1600s, while the remaining part was built in the first half of the 1700s on behalf of the wealthy family of the priest Cataldo Perta (1744 – 1809).
Over the centuries the Trullo Sovrano has played the role of apothecary, chapel, oratory.
The Trullo Sovrano is a particular construction not only for its size but also for the architectural technique used. It is the only one with a double floor accessible by a staircase and was built using mortar to bind the stones.
Today it is the headquarters of the Museum of the territory, ideal for those who want to learn about the culture of the area by discovering the main production activities in the area and admiring the typical furnishings of a trullo from the peasant era.
Fifteen communicating trulli welcome the fascinating museum of Alberobello, which tells the culture of the area through artifacts and different in-depth sections.
A unique architectural complex is the seat of the Museum of the territory “Casa Pezzolla” of Alberobello, composed of 15 communicating trulli located on the eastern side of the historic Piazza XXVII Maggio.
A visit to the museum is an ideal journey into the rich culture of the area, where you can also admire the typical furnishings of a trullo.
The different sections illustrate the main productive activities of the area, from viticulture to the cultivation of wheat, with a rich photographic equipment and the reconstruction of some peasant environments.
The ethnographic museum is named after the personal doctor of the Acquaviva d Aragona nobles, Dr. Giacomo Pezzolla, who built his residence in the second half of the eighteenth century, using mortar in the construction of trulli for the first time.
Consisting of an older and a more modern part, the building is an expression of the transformations that affected the town in the eighteenth century.
The Sanctuary of Santi Cosma e Damiano
Near the Trullo Sovrano, at the end of the central Corso Vittorio Emanuele, the Sanctuary of Santi Cosma e Damiano stands majestically in the place where there was a rural church dedicated to the Madonna delle Grazie. The splendid minor basilica is a beautiful example of neoclassical style.
The foundation stone of the basilica of the Medici Saints in Bitonto was laid on May 5, 1960 in the presence of the bishop of Ruvo and Bitonto Aurelio Marena. The construction of the building continued for fifteen years, until 1973. On March 19 of that same year, the new church was solemnly consecrated by the same bishop Marena.
On February 13, 1975 the church was elevated to a minor basilica by Pope Paul VI.
It contains the relics of the saints Medici Cosma and Damiano, attested in Bitonto since the 16th century and previously housed in the church of San Giorgio, in the historic center, now insufficient to accommodate the many faithful who poured into the city. The Bitontine cult of the saints Medici is in fact among the most important realities of religious tourism in Southern Italy
Built in the eighteenth century with refined forms conceived by the architect Antonio Curri, the sanctuary is accessible through a staircase, a prelude to the facade marked by pilasters and Corinthian columns and embellished by the bronze portal with the representation of the beauties, from which the two bell towers rise.
The interior is a sumptuous treasure chest of works of art, including the painting of the Madonna of Loreto on the main altar, the frescoes in the apse with the martyrdom of the Saints and the ascent to Paradise of the local painter Francesco De Biase, and the Deposition.
The acquisition of the precious relics, the arm of San Cosma and the skull of San Damiano dates back to the nineteenth century.