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Alberobello, An Odd Yet Beautiful Place With Unusual Homes in Italy

No, they’re not for gnomes.

Ann Moises

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  • Alberobello is located in the region of Puglia in Italy.
  • It has been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 due to the peculiar, traditional homes specific to the area called Trulli.
  • Trulli are white-washed houses with conical roofs painted with symbols.

Situated approximately 40 miles south of Bari lies Alberobello, a town full of distinct white-washed homes with conical roofs.

Thousands of Trulli exist in the Valle d’Itria or Itria Valley. However, Alberobello holds over 1,500 of them.

The strangely beautiful sight may make people think they’re in a village inhabited by gnomes.
Photo: g_travels via Flickr
These houses are called Trulli (singular: Trullo).
Photo : Allesandro Demetrio via Flickr
The term ‘trullo’ was derived from the Greek word ‘tholos’, which means ‘circular dome-shaped construction.’
Photo : Fabio via Flickr
Trulli are dry-stone (mortarless) square shelters composed of limestone, built no later than the 14th century.
Photo Ethomsen via Flickr
Its walls were made very thick, to reinforce its strength and to help regulate the temperature inside the house.
Photo: ricmartínez via Flickr
The cone-shaped roof consists of chiancarelle, those grey, flat, slate-like stones, and a pinnacoli sits on top of it.
Photo : Ethomsen via Flickr

Moreover, the pinnacles vary in shape, presumably to help the trulli builders or trulleros recognize their work, according to the National Geographic.

Most of the roofs are painted with symbols, and they are very hard to miss.
Photo: Cinzia A Rizzo via Flickr
Some say the insignia holds religious or superstitious significance.
Photo: fabriziovirginia via Flickr

However, Dr. Annunziata Berrino, professor of contemporary history at the University of Naples said, “They’ve been invented (over time) to satisfy a visitor’s curiosity.” However, what is irrefutable is the residents commitment to preserve their architectural history.

The first territory conquered by Middle Eastern tribes was Puglia. It is believed that they were the ones who utilized the technique of building trulli. They built tombs for their dead and hovels with pinnacles with symbolic signs. However, the dome-shaped construction apparently stemmed from Anatolia.

“Trulli have been protected since 1910,” said Dr. Berrino. The people are forbidden to make alterations to these homes and they suffered because of it. If today we can visit Alberobello and its trulli, it’s thanks to the sacrifice of. the entire population.”

In 1996, Alberobello was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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