On October 26 we maintained our AirBnB residence in Matera, but took a side trip to see Alberobello. As we drove through the area on the way to Alberobello, we were struck by the number of stone walls that surrounded the farm fields. The reason for their existence was obvious; the rich fields were studded with rocks. And then as we got closer to the village another use of the abundant stones became apparent: roofing material.
A trullo (plural, trulli) is a traditional Apulian dry stone hut with a conical roof. Trulli generally were constructed as temporary field shelters and storehouses or, as permanent dwellings by small proprietors or agricultural labourers. In the town of Alberobello, in the province of Bari, whole districts contain dense concentrations of trulli. The golden age of trulli was the nineteenth century, especially its final decades, which were marked by the development of wine growing.
The history of the trulli is linked to an edict of the 15th-century Kingdom of Naples that subjected every new settlement to a tribute. In 1481 the Counts of Conversano D’Acquaviva D’Aragona imposed on the residents that they build their dwellings dry, without using mortars, so that they could be configured as precarious buildings and easily demolished. Having to use only stones, the peasants found in the round form with self-supporting domed roof the simplest configuration. The roofs were embellished with decorative pinnacles representing the signature of the architect.
When we left Alberobello we briefly stopped at one of the nearby “White Villages”, a visit that afforded a dramatic overview of the surrounding countryside, with its rich fields and many stone walls.