“I wake up and I see a land of dreams, as if I slept however”, Gabriele D’Annunzio wrote charmed admiring the Trulli of Alberobello.
Alberobello is a town located in Puglia, a region in the southern Italy, close to its capital city, Bari. This town looks like a fairy tale place and it is marked by the presence of Trulli, whitewashed rural dwellings with conical roofs made of grey and flat stones.
Oppositely to the popular conviction, the meaning of Alberobello is not “beautiful tree”, but “war tree”. It derives from the Latin “Sylva aut nemus arboris belli”, that literally means “the forest of the war tree”, an expression used to identify the area where the city is placed.
The trulli are named “living stones” because they host their residents’ life. The first ones were built in the 16th century with a technique that let a single man build it by himself, while building a wooden house demanded the collaboration of many workers. The trulli are built “a secco” which means that they are made from dry stones, placed one over the other.
From the beginning it was not allowed to erect towns without the consent of the King of Naples who governed over that area. So the houses had been built in the way that they could easily be demolished in case of a royal inspection. This technique also permits to easily replace a single stone of the roof without dismantling larger parts of the cone.
The “trullo” has a central square space covered by a dome which includes the kitchen, the bedroom, the storage room and, in the ancient times, also the animal refuge. The building usually includes also the additional rooms that are connected to the main room. The pinnacles basically have round shape, while the cross-shaped ones are of Christian origin.
Many trulli have white primitive symbols painted on the roofs which have mixed origins and, according to a popular belief, they bring good luck to the house and to its residents. The present residents found these symbols inside the dwelling in the form of a figurine or a mark on a wall.