Imagine stepping into a large, green valley scattered with odd-looking circular buildings ending in conical shapes, with most of them sporting a stone ball on top. Have you arrived on the set of the latest fantasy movie? Or into an enchanted world? No, you are simply entering the Itria Valley, home to the world-famous Trulli and part of the Puglia region, located in the “heel” of the Italian boot.
The Trulli can only be found in Puglia, and the biggest cluster of these unusual houses is in the Bari province, in the town of Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Trulli are hundreds of years old and the origin of their appearance in this southern part of Italy remains uncertain. They are made of limestone without a mortar finish and most of them have been whitewashed. Their thick walls preserve a cool temperature during the blistering summers and retain the heat from the central hearth during the cold winters. The conical roofs are made of flat stones and many have strange Christian or Pagan symbols painted on them, which only adds to the mystery of these constructions.
Apulia – as the region’s Latin name is also still in use – is bordered by the Adriatic Sea on one side and the Ionian Sea on the other. The beaches there are so attractive that some places are being referred to as “The Italian Maldives.” a justified nickname. And if you are looking for something different for lunch or dinner you should definitely try the ricci de mare (sea urchins), a popular local specialty. They have a foamy consistency and can either be eaten raw on the spot or cooked, added to a pasta dish for example.
The Salento peninsula in the southeastern part of Apulia is also rich in places worth visiting. Towns such as Brindisi, Bari, Lecce, Gallipoli and Taranto all offer architectural treasures, mainly in the Romanesque or Baroque styles, as well as historical sites.
There is a lot to explore in this region and a Trullo would be the perfect base from which to do so. Many of them have been beautifully renovated with their original features still in place and are now being rented as holiday homes. It will no doubt give you the impression of having gone back in time.