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Puglia Region of So. ItalyWe left Rome at 7:45 am for the bus ride to the Puglia region of Italy. The drive took us down towards Naples, then across the Apenine Mountains through the Alban Hills to the heel of the boot along the Adriatic Sea. The picturesque countryside was full of huge wheat fields, wine vineyards and olive tree farms. There are 16M olive trees in Puglia, greater than the number of people in all of Italy. Towns were nestled on hilltops.Hilltop Town Initially these were fortified houses (Casteli) for the noble families to escape from the feudal conflicts, but they later grew to small villages.

Street of Trulli HousesThe region is noted for its strange white Trulli buildings. We toured the largest concentration of Trulli in the town of Alberobello. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 because it is a remarkable survival of prehistoric building techniques. Trulli are circular structures with conical roofs built with local limestone and stacked without using mortar, a technique called dry stone masonry.Trulli roof The first Trulli were built in the 12th century BC and were used as tombs. Because the walls are at least 3 feet thick, the structures are well insulated and no moisture gets inside. They were later used as storage or for temporary shelters while farmers were away from home. Later they were used for housing because they could be dismantled at a moment's notice. This was necessary to avoid taxation on new settlements. This is known to have occurred in 1644 to thwart tax inspectors sent by the King of Naples.

The Trulli were constructed using roughly worked limestone boulders collected from neighboring fields and, later, the large water-collecting basins in the area. They were built directly on the underlying natural rock, using exclusively the dry stone technique. This area is the only one with the right kind of limestone for building a Trulli. The limestone in this region delaminates naturally at the right rate.Trulli Shops and Homes Initially, a round cistern is dug in the ground, about 9 feet in diameter. The Trulli is built on top using wooden scaffolding to hold the limestone rings of the cone. These are built up of successive courses of grey limestone slabs, known as chianche or chiancarelle . Then the large stones are placed under the cone for the sides.Interior of remodeled Trulli Fireplaces, ovens and alcoves are recessed into the thickness of the walls. Rain water is collected and stored in the cistern. Initially, the limestone is white, turning grey as it ages and fractures.The outside stone walls were often whitewashed. Until recent times, when some of the Trulli have been upgraded for housing and vacation cottages, there was no plumbing or electricity and sewage ran through the streets. It is now illegal to live in a Trulli unless it has been renovated.

Dinner at MasseriaIn the evening, we took an optional tour for dinner at a Masseria. These were originally fortified farms to protect them from marauders. Now they have been turned into restaurants and small inns. 80% of the food served is grown on their farm. The dinner was amazing, starting with multiple dishes of antipasto. Then a pasta course followed by a meat course and dessert pastries. Local wine was included and was excellent. It was a long day and with all that food and wine, we were happy to return to the hotel for a good night's rest.

Our hotel for the next two nights was the Chiusa di Chietri.Hotel Grounds The grounds were beautiful, with some modern Trulli for rent, an outdoor swimming pool, and several lush garden areas which are used for weddings and parties.


To view more photos from Alberobello, please go to Alberobello Photo Gallery. To read about the next location visited, go to Matera.

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