Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Trulli of Apulia (Puglia)

Trulli are cone-shaped structures found only in the Apulia (Puglia) area of Italy.

Trulli are a common sight when driving around the Apulia (Puglia) region of Italy. 
(Singular: trullo)

The traditional stone buildings with their conical roofs are unique to the area and fascinating to the eye. Often, religious symbols were whitewashed onto the roof. Trulli are sprinkled all over the Apulian hillsides, but are especially prominent in the town of Alberobello which is known for its trulli communities.

A street in the center of town in Alberobello

The trulli of the past were constructed as temporary stone structures at the edge of a farmer's property. They were meant to take up minimal space with crops planted right up to the front door. The intent was for the farmer to optimize use of the land. A trullo was typically used as a storehouse for animals, equipment and crops, or as a permanent dwelling convenient to the fields.

The soil of Puglia is dense with stones, making it a readily available building material for the many stone walls dividing properties, as well as for the construction of trulli buildings.

There are a variety of theories behind the history of the conical, stone design of the structures. A popular one is that dry construction of the trullo (stone without mortar) made it easy for the Puglian people to quickly dismantle the building when the inspectors came by. This helped avoid high taxes.

A trullo can be of either one-coned roof or many. Multiple coned trulli are connected inside with each room serving a different purpose (kitchen, bedrooms, living area). Alcoves can provide additional space for children or storage. The stone walls of a trullo are thick, from 2 feet to as many as 8 feet. The thickness of the walls keeps a trullo cool in summer, but difficult to heat in winter.

Recently, my husband and I rented a vacation trullo in the Apulian town of Martina Franca. It was a renovated structure with the modern comforts of a stove, heat, and a flat screen TV.

Here's a look at the conical roof from the inside. Windows are small and few, making the interior of a trullo a bit dark.

Staying in a trullo was very basic lodging. I'll have to admit, however, it was "trulli" an interesting experience (pun intended) and totally different lodging than in any other region of Italy.

- Nina Spitzer

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