On the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, there are a number of places that seem almost impossible. The uniqueness of these places is what gets them onto the list. One such place is Alberobello, Italy.
In the southeastern region of Puglia lies a village (OK, it’s a city now) that is the only place of its kind in the world. The homes in the village are round and protected by unusual conical roofs. They are called Trulli.
I’d been there once in 1985, before it was a UNESCO site and before it was a tourist destination. Going back more than 35 years later, I was struck by how little the heart of the original village had changed.
The streets are slippery cobblestones, climbing and falling through the town, weaving to the left and right past the trulli. The only nod to modernization evident now is that many of the trulli are now shops hawking souvenirs to tourists, home to restaurants or B&B’s for tourists to experience a night in the unique structure.
We’d hired a guide to take us on a walking tour where we learned WHY the homes were built this way … it was a way for the local count to avoid paying taxes to the Spanish viceroy to the king. When the viceroy came to survey his lands, the villagers were told to disassemble their roofs so the king would think the village was abandoned. They would head into the hills for the king’s visit and rebuild once he was gone. The count avoided the taxes and treated his subjects well. It was a fascinating lesson in history.
She also offered up drawings and methods that were used to build the homes and stack the stones. History and architecture in one fun evening.
We wandered the streets of the town where she showed us the last trullo still occupied by its original family.
There was so much to see and learn in this fascinating village. We topped off our stay in one of the original trullo … now with all the modern conveniences. It was a bucket list item I am thrilled to have checked off my list.
There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be explored. Embrace the history, architecture and authenticity of the places you visit.
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