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Alberobello, Italy

Thursday, November 27, 2008
Alberobello is a small town and commune in Puglia's Bari province in southern Italy. It has around 11,000 inhabitants and became a World Heritage-listed site in 1996, thanks to its unique trulli.

Trulli are round, gleaming, whitewashed houses with grey cone-shaped roofs. They are quite common in the provinces of Bari and Taranto, and there are around 100 in the town of Alberobello, known as the Valley of the Trulli. The town's historic centre is on a hilltop, surrounded by almond and olive trees.

Some of Alberobello's trulli are five centuries old, and their origin is unknown but it is thought they were first constructed during the Middle Ages. At that time, anyone who built a residence on the king's land was heavily taxed so the clever Pugliese devised the drywall stone trulli purely for tax evasion.

The story goes that possibly by means of a smoke signal, everyone was alerted to the taxman's arrival and as only roofed dwellings could be taxed, trulli roofs were quickly removed and hidden. When the visit was over, the mortarless roofs were simply replaced.

The trulli are now firmly planted and buttressed with stucco. A cone still makes up a single common area and interiors, while Spartan, are charming.

Rooms are separated by colourful curtains — only bathrooms have doors. Furniture is mostly handmade from olive wood and is a beautiful example of the work of traditional peasant artisans. Puglia has a fairly warm climate and the cool stone trulli provide welcome relief from the summer sun. In winter, the traditional hearth is the source of heat.

Canele provides bed and breakfast accommodation for holidaymakers. It's not far from the town's centre and has a spacious entrance, living room, double bedroom and three beds in the loft. It has a good kitchen, bathroom, fireplace and large garden. As with other trulli, Canele has a fanciful hex sign which adds magic to the setting.

Just like every town in Italy there is a weekly farmers' market in Alberobello. Markets are as much about the people, their history and way of life as they are about wonderful fresh food. Alberobello's Thursday markets are crammed with aubergine, tomatoes, pasta, aromatic basil and other herbs. Locals don't eat a lot of meat but make wonderful tasty dishes without it.

There are wonderful wines grown in the area, but as farmers don't have time to run cellar doors, there are enoteche selling their product. Enoteca means "wine library" and while they originated in Italy, they have spread throughout Europe. They often stock wines of local growers and if the taster fancies a particular wine, they are directed to its source.

A short drive takes you to a wonderful world of ancient olive groves, orchards and vineyards. Tasting the wonderful oils dipped in local bread and you're guaranteed to wonder just how many bottles you can fit in your suitcase.

People of the area are unvaryingly pleasant and extremely generous with their warmth, time and knowledge of this special place.

Location

Puglia on the heel of Italy's boot.

Cost

Euroscape Travel has four-day Trulli Heritage packages from Bari or Brindisi. They include transfers, accommodation, half-day guided tour and a visit to an enoteca for wine and local produce tasting. They start at $690 per person twin share.

Emirates has flights to Rome.

Fares from:

  • Perth $1850
  • Melbourne $1954
  • Brisbane $1973
  • Adelaide $2048
  • Sydney $2065

Valid for sale until December 15, 2008 and for travel between April 1 and October 31, 2009. Conditions apply.

Connections to Bari are available.

Prices correct at November 27, 2008.

For further information

Euroscape Travel
Ph: 1300 558 909
www.euroscape.com.au

Enoteca L'Anima del Vino
Largo Martellotta 93
70011 Alberobello
Ph: +39 080 432 1388
www.animadelvino.it Canele B & B
www.trullidea.it

Trullo Sovrano
Piazza Sacramento
Ph: +39 080 432 6030
www.trullosovrano.org

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