Alberobello is an Italian town of 11,040 inhabitants in the province of Bari in Puglia. Famous for its typical dwellings known as trulli, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, it forms part of the Itrian Valley.
The history of these highly characteristic dwellings is linked to an edict issued by the Kingdom of Naples during the 15th century that taxed all new urban dwellings.
The Counts of Conversano, owners of the land where Alberobello now stands, ordered the peasants sent to these areas to build dry stone houses without using mortar so that they could be looked on as temporary dwellings and easy to demolish.
Therefore, given that they were allowed to use stone only, the peasants found the simplest and sturdiest type of construction to be these round buildings with a self-bearing conical roof, formed of overlapping circles of stones. The conical roofs of the trulli are decorated with pinnacles, the shape of which is inspired by symbolical, mystical and religious elements.
They were created by stonemasons hired to build the trulli and served to identify the stonemason responsible. Therefore, not only could the skill of the stonemason be ascertained from the quality of craftsmanship of the pinnacle, but also the value of the building. Therefore, more money spent of building the trullo made it possible to single out the wealthier families from the poorer ones.
As regards the symbols painted on the roofs of the trulli, these often have religious significance. Sometimes they can also refer to the signs of the zodiac. The pinnacle and painted symbol together formed a type of civic identity given that for many years Alberobello was denied any official recognition by the Counts of Conversano.
The town’s largest trullo is called Trullo Sovrano. Built by the Perta family during the mid 1700s, this two-floor building is fitted out as a museum and it is possible to visit the interior, decorated in accordance with the styles of the period and reconstructed on the basis of information provided by Alberobello’s oldest inhabitants. During the summer period, the Trullo Sovrano hosts events such as theatrical performances, small orchestral or jazz concerts, cultural evenings and poetry readings.
A central area of the town located between the Aia Piccola district and Piazza del Popolo is home to the largest complex of adjacent and communicating (fifteen) trulli that can be visited in Alberobello, the oldest of which dating back to the 18th century. Said residential complex, called Casa Pezzolla after the last owners, was purchased by Alberobello’s town authorities in 1986 and completely renovated between 1993 and 1997.
The trulli complex offers two types of construction, one more recent that looks out completely onto Piazza XXVII Maggio and, with a monumental perspective, takes in two floors. It has a tall, narrow facade topped by a triangular tympanum that highlights the two layer roof topped by limestone roof tiles. The other represents the older part of the complex and is influenced by the monumental area of Aia Piccola.
Church of Sant'Antonio
Built between 1926 and 1927 on a high point of the Monti district, donated to the Guanelllian priests by an inhabitant of Alberobello, the Church of Sant'Antonio reproduces the shape of the district’s trulli houses.
A 21-metre conical-shaped dome stands on top of a Greek-cross shaped church that blends in perfectly with the surrounding buildings. The church was completely renovated in 2004.
Museo del Territorio
The museum (Museo del Territorio), housed in Casa Pezzolla, was set up with the aim of conserving and recounting the history of the area featuring trulli, acknowledged as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1996. The museum was designed as a container for exhibitions of tools, finds and items related to the history, traditions and folklore of the Murge Plateau, in addition to being a venue for temporary figurative art shows and exhibitions.
The museum’s cultural offering is completed with the 'Gianpiero De Santis' Documentation Centre, a multimedia cultural centre set up to help the town’s cultural associations, with an Internet portal [http://alberobellocultura.it/], and an official body of Alberobello’s Town Council Department for Culture.