If there is one kind of Italian home that I have always wanted to see, it is a trullo. Trulli (plural, trullo is singular) are traditional homes from the Itria Valley in Puglia. They are made of limestone with conical roofs, and many times the walls are then painted white. The effect is honestly something like a fairy tale home, though these dwellings have much more humble origins. I was thrilled to travel to the Valle d’Itria in central Puglia to find a trullo at last.
Trulli are built with dry-stone masonry, meaning there is no mortar (or other material) to hold the stones together. They are expertly crafted beehive-style structures that have likely been in Puglia since around the 4th century (or at least, that is the earliest evidence that exists of a settlement at Alberobello).
The trulli shape may have arrived in Puglia with the Greeks, who colonized this area of Italy as early as the 8th century BC. Some historians have theorized that trulli are similar in design to early Greek funeral monuments. There is also a pretty convincing connection with the Greek word trullos, which means cupola or dome.
Trulli are traditionally whitewashed with the domed roofs left the natural gray stone color. Some trulli have markings on their roofs, but this is a more modern phenomenon and does not have any ancient meaning. The designs are often celestial, but they are mainly used to pique curiosity and to distinguish the otherwise unmarked huts from one another.
The little toppers on the roofs, however, do serve a purpose. They were used by the stonemasons as a kind of signature to identify their own work. These pinnacles are knowns as pinnacoli in Italian.
Where to See a Trullo
Trulli are specific to central-southern Puglia and the most famous town of trulli is Alberobello. This is where you can see 1,500 trulli grouped together to make up a community that looks no other in Italy. It is so unique that it is now a protected UNESCO World Heritage site. The trulli are homes, hotels, and boutiques. The largest trullo in town has been converted into a museum.
However, in recent years the fame of Alberobello has spread and as a result, the town has become much more geared to tourism. If you prefer to see trulli without the crowds, there are plenty of places to find the domed little homes in Puglia.
In reality, trulli are found down many country lanes in the Itria Valley. This is where I saw the most trulli, while visiting different wineries in the countryside. A lone trullo would be standing in a field, or a group of 4-5 trulli would be converted into a more contemporary home. (As famous as the Itria Valley is for its cute stone houses, it is also prized for its wine, so this is a great way to find a trullo in my opinion).
In addition to Alberobello, other towns with lots of trulli include Locorotondo (where you can stay in a trullo that has been converted into a guesthouse), Martina Franca, Cisternino, and Ceglie. And please please please be sure to eat at Cibus if you are in the area.
The two closest airports are Bari and Brindisi. You will want to rent a car from there to get yourself the flexibility to explore and discover trulli, as we as all the other gorgeous features of Puglia, at your own pace. Alberobello is located about 40 miles south of Bari.
Where to Stay in Trulli Houses
Trulli are having a moment and I am not the only one totally enamored with them. Many people have begun to purchase trulli to restore and live in as holiday homes or rent out to people who would like to experience this traditional Pugliese dwelling. If you want to stay in the trulli houses of Puglia, here are my top picks:
Tipico Resort: For those who want to stay right in the center of Alberobello, this is the trullo for you. The completely converted and updated homes come in a range of sizes to suit your party, or you can book separate neighboring trulli to accommodate larger groups. Continental breakfast is included at a nearby trullo and the staff is available until late in the evening to help with everything from check in to restaurant recommendations.
Trullo Mansio: Stay in the heart of trullo country with this lovely converted trullo hotel near Alberobello. You can have the experience of the traditional stone dwelling with the modern comforts of a 24-hour front desk. The one-bedroom trullo is located in the countryside among olive trees and has a garden for lounging in as well as a kitchenette with coffee and tea.
Trullieu Guesthouse Alberobello: While the outside of this trullo guesthouse are fully preserved, the interior has a gorgeous modern design. Located about half a mile from the center of Alberobello, Trullieu its located right on the edge of the trulli district so you are close to everything but away from the crowds. If you want to explore further afield, you can also rent bikes at the location.