April 2, 2008 / Local Interest
Off the beaten path down in the heel of Italy (Puglia region, Murgia area) exist the peculiar constructions known as trulli. Trullos simply means dome in the late ancient Greek which so influenced the area, and is an apt description of these buildings. They consist of very thick circular stone walls with a stone dome or cone simply stacked on top, all done without mortar, with just one door, maybe one window, packed dirt floor, and esoteric symbols painted onto the outside to ward off evil (photo 1). Trulli have been built here this way since the bronze age . . one of those applied examples of “don’t mess with perfect”.

Made with the plentiful local limestone, they stay cool in summer, are easily kept at temperature during winter, and are perfectly waterproof, a necessity in these highlands which see quite a bit of rain and even snow regularly each winter (quite a sight!).

The system works so well that even the church of Sant’Antonio in the town of Alberobello (photo 2) is made this way. What’s ironic is that trulli were once looked down on as fit for peasants and their livestock only, and were almost completely abandoned to ruin in the decades after WWII. Now instead they are rented out for pretty penny to visitors drawn to the region for its interesting sights, delicious food, and its beautiful coast. Makes you happy for these hardy little stone huts.

These lovely photos kindly provided by Cariddi Nardulli. Thank you!


by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

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