If you are considering a road trip across the south of Italy, you should definitely add Alberobello, Puglia, to your itinerary.
This small town of little over 10000 people is known for the trulli (that’s the plural of trullo), tiny white dry stone huts with a domed, conical roof that in their traditional version were made with limestone boulders gathered from local fields. Found all across the beautiful Valle d’Itria, there are so many of them in Alberobello that the two terms usually go together – “trulli of Alberobello.”
Although undeniably more touristy compared to other nearby towns, Alberobello is quite scenic. The trulli of Alberobello will give you plenty of good photo opportunities. People have remained incredibly friendly, welcoming and helpful. Finally, the presence of a cat or two, looking for attention and ready to pose for photos, certainly adds to the experience. Some may complain that the city is too crowded with tourists, but to me this doesn’t take away from its charm and it’s still worth visiting.
TIP: To experience Alberobello, Puglia, without the crowds, consider visiting off season and / or plan to be there early to beat the crowds. I went in mid-October and the city was blissfully quiet.
Continue reading this post for information on the things to see and do in Alberobello, and for tips that will help you plan your visit and make the most of it.
Some Background Information About The Trulli Of Alberobello
Located in the scenic Valle d’Itria, Alberobello – whose medieval latin name was Silva Arboris Belli, in reference to the thick forest that back then covered most of the region – is known to be the trulli capital of Puglia. The town is divided into two historic centers – Rione Monti and Aia Piccola: in each of them there are many beautiful, well kept trulli.
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996, research shows that first trulli had been built in prehistoric times. Yet, the trulli of Alberobello as we know them today started being built by local peasants in the mid 14th century, at a time when the area was under the rule of the first Count of Conversano da Roberto d’Angiò, Prince of Taranto and finally King of Naples from 1309 to 1343.
The local feudal lords – the Acquaviva, who owned the land – demanded that the trulli were built without mortar so that, should a royal inspection come, they could be taken down quickly and they wouldn’t be forced to pay taxes on any new settlement. The town grew quickly, and at the end of the 18th century more than 3500 people lived there. However, it was only in 1797 that the King of Naples Ferdinando IV di Borbone declared it to be a royal town, and permission to build with mortar was finally granted.
It’s interesting to note that, albeit the original intention was that of taking down the constructions in a whim if necessary, the trulli proved to be so solid to the point that many of the original ones are still standing.
Nowadays, very few locals still live in the trulli of Alberobello: most have been restored to house small souvenir shops, elegant restaurants and beautiful boutique hotels or Airbnbs.
Finally, let’s discover the best places to visit in Alberobello.
The Best Sights In Alberobello, Puglia
Alberobello is the kind of place where you will feel compelled to get lost (though worry not, the city is so small that you will quickly find your whereabouts). I recommend taking your time to walk around the many alleys and appreciate the trulli of Alberobello. If you feel like you need a bit of guidance, you should consider joining a guided tour such as this one – it lasts less than 2 hours, but it covers the main sights in town and gives you a good overlook of the local history. You can book it here.
Rione Monti should be your first stop. A short walk uphill from the main street, it’s where the highest concentration of trulli of Alberobello is. There are 1030 of them, including a few “siamese trulli,” known to have a double facade, a double pinnacle, a low fireplace and no windows.
This is also where you’ll find the highest concentration of souvenir shops, some of which are actually worth visiting. Aside from the merchandise on display – from local produce such as traditional orecchiette pasta to liquors, quality olive oil, sweets, traditional colorful ceramics and more traditional souvenirs such as fridge magnets – it’s actually quite interesting to observe the architecture. One that captured my attention was a shop that publicized itself as the smallest trullo in town.
Can a church be in the shape of a trullo? Apparently so. Sant’Antonio Church, in Rione Monti has a Greek cross plant and inside you will find beautiful frescos and paintings. Right in front of the church, a lovely small park is the perfect place to relax for a few moments, or to enjoy a picnic.
Rione Aja Piccola
Right across the street from Rione Monti and up a lovely flight of stairs, Rione Aja Piccola is definitely less touristy, but charming all the same. There are around 500 trulli there, some of them still inhabited by locals. This is also where the panoramic point, overlooking Rione Monti, is located – it’s the best spot to catch the views and it’s 100% free.
Santuario di Santi Medici
As soon as you get to Aja Piccola you will find this church dedicated to Saints Medici Cosma and Damiano. Inside, you can see their relics and a beautiful panting of Our Lady of Loreto.
Located in Piazza Sacramento, Trullo Sovrano is the only two-floors one in town. Once a wealthy home, it now houses a museum.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION: The museum is open daily from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm and from 3:30 pm to either 6:00 pm (November to March) or 7:00 pm. Admission is €2.
Currently the location of the tourism office, Casa d’Amore is one of the first trulli of Alberobello to be built with mortar. It was built in 1797 by Francesco d’Amore, who led the uprising against the Acquaviva rule over the region.
Practical Information To Plan Your Trip To Alberobello, Puglia
Day trips to Alberobello
Alberobello is so small that it will take you about half a day to explore it and you can easily go there on a day trip during your holiday in Puglia. You can easily get there from Bari – about one hour drive; Matera – again, about one hour drive; Polignano A Mare – little over 30 minutes drive; and it’s a mere 12 minutes drive from Locorotondo.
Should you not have a car, you can join one of the following guided day trips:
How to get to Alberobello
My recommendation is to rent a car for your trip to Puglia – the region calls for a road trip, and having a car will make your life immensely easier, especially if you stay in a trullo immersed in the countryside. Hertz is a reliable company for car rentals, and you can pick your car as soon as you arrive at Bari or Brindisi Airport. You can find the best deals and book your car here.
TIP: Free parking is hard to come across in the center of Alberobello. Save yourself the headache and head straight for one of the paid parking lots. The easiest one to find is on the main street – Via Indipendenza.
Traveling to Alberobello by train is easy enough from Bari – there are regular direct Regional FSE or Trulli Link trains, the journey lasts between one and two hours; and from and Martina Franca via Locorotondo – the trip from Martina Franca lasts 21 to 27 minutes, whereas from Locorotondo it takes between 10 and 15 minutes. You can check the train timetable on the website of Trenitalia.
Where to stay and eat in Alberobello
Alberobello is small enough that you can visit it in half a day. However, if you wish to spend a night or two in town, you won’t have shortage of good accommodation options. I researched a few places to stay for you:
TRULLO ESSENZA – In the heart of the trulli area, this mid-range Airbnb is ideal for a couple of a small family. There is a nice double bed located in a nook on an upper level; a well equipped kitchen and a small but pleasant patio where you can bask in the sun. Click here for the latest rates.
PALAZZO SCOTTO – If you have the budget to splurge, the hotel and the guest house offer beautiful room carefully curated in all details. The deluxe suite comes with a kitchenette. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
GRANDI TRULLI BED AND BREAKFAST – Close to the main church, this moderately priced beautiful bed and breakfast offers two stylishly decorated trulli split on two levels (bedroom on the upper level), and for a very reasonable price. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
I TRULLI DI NONNA TOTO – A nice Airbnb a bit outside of the center of town, but within easy walking distance; this place is great value for money: a fantastic budget option. It comes with a fully equipped kitchen. Click here for the latest rates.
I can’t really comment on local restaurants as I haven’t tried any, but here are some recommendation for cafés and quick eats.
MARTINUCCI – In the heart of the Rione Monti, this local “Bar Pasticceria” has an incredible selection of pastries, including “pasticciotti” (which are however typical of Lecce). There is plenty of seating inside, but keep in mind you pay an additional fee for table service.
ENOTECA TOLOS – Located in Via Monte San Michele 20, this shop has a great selection of local wines and other tasty goods. There is an adjoint bakery where you can grab a freshly made sandwich or a slice of focaccia – which in Puglia is topped with deliciously sweet tomatoes, abundant olive oil, and oregano.
GOOD TO KNOW: Alberobello has its very own local sandwich – a rosetta roll stuffed with tuna, capers, salami and cheese. It was invented in 1966 by local Pasquale Dell’Erba and called Pasqualino.
Further readings about Italy
Are you planning a trip to Italy? Make sure to check my other posts
- 13 Cool Things To Do In Bari, Italy
- 13 Cool Things To Do In Matera Italy
- 17 Reasons To Visit Italy As Soon As Possible
- 21 Best Movies About Italy You Need To Watch
- A Guide To The Best Places To Visit In Italy
- A Perfect Italy Itinerary: What To See And Do With 10 Days Or More
- What To Do And What To Avoid When Planning A Trip To Italy