Many roofs of trullis in Alberobello

The history of the Trulli houses in Puglia

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If you have ever seen a picture of the trulli houses in Puglia, you are probably wondering why do they have this weird – and fascinating – shape. Now, we tell you not only the history of Trulli houses, but other legends of this great place in Puglia!

Fernanda and many trulli in alberobello
On top of one of the stairs that takes you to Alberobello city centre full of Trulli houses

During the months of June and July 2019, we crossed Italy on bike. We left Parma, in Emiglia Romana and aimed to arrive in Santa Maria de Leuca, the most southern part of the region of Puglia. You can see our videos on our YouTube Channel or read how to travel by bike in Europe in here.

After going through the coast of Puglia, we completely fell in love with this region and it has soon became our most loved piece of land in Italy.

One of the stories that we loved the most was about the trulli. Although they are more famous in Alberobello, you can see trulli houses all over the Vale D’Itria.

The history of Trulli houses – Legend 1

Many roofs of trullis in Alberobello

First of all, let’s clarify the difference between trulli and trullo. One is just the plural form of the other. Many trulli, one trullo.

As for the history of trulli houses, the truth is that no one really knows the real reason for this singular conical shape of a trullo. Nevertheless, the most heard legend says its inhabitants built that way to avoid high taxes charged by an old Spanish king, who ruled this region.

Having the roof made by assembling stones on top of each other made easier for the inhabitants to take them off whenever the tax collector came. That would give them an excuse to not pay taxes because there is no house without a roof, thus they have no house. After the tax man leaves town, they would put the stones back together to have their roof again.

Do you want to have an experience of staying in a trullo during your trip to Alberobello, in Italy? So have a look at this options of Hotels and Bed&Breakfasts here!

The probable truth of the trulli houses

Although this story we have just said is the most disseminated – and kinda cool too – about the history of Trulli, we heard from many local people as well as from the Tourism Department of Alberobello that the truth is not quite like that.

According to them, this taking-off putting-back task it would be almost impossible for the residents of the trulli – particularly for elderly people. To have their roof off and them back on again would be a such hard word that they would very likely rather pay taxes.

What we were told is that the region which today is Alberobello was once a gigantic forest. The “guardian” of this forest had forbidden permanent housing constructions in order to not change the forest into a town. The peasants of Alberobello could build temporary structures to live while farming, but not use any sort of mortar.

Therefore, making the roof with rocks, which by the way are plenty in the Vale D’Itria, were the most economic option for the house structures of the houses.

The legend of the name Alberobello

trulli in the streets of Alberobello, Puglia
The streets of Alberobello and the trulli

Taking the opportunity to demystify legends, there is another one we want to explain. That is with regards to the name of Alberobello.

In modern Italian language, Albero means tree and bello means beautiful. Therefore, people think the name refers to beautiful trees which they used to have in the region. There was, in fact, a massive forest – as said – where the city of Alberobello is today. However, that’s not accurate.

In this forest, there was a secular tree named Arbor Belli – Tree of War – because its wood was commonly used to make guns. The name of this tree gave origin to the name of the town. Anyway, beautiful tree sounds much better than tree of war.

The truth is not always the most exciting story, isn’t it? But regardless of the history of Trulli and the name of Alberobello, this town is unique and fascinating. It sure should be on your itinerary in Puglia.